The people behind the ever-popular Rivoli have opened a more casual offshoot, Corso, featuring pizza, pasta, and small plates. Florentine dishes also are a specialty, reports the San Francisco Chronicle.

The place reminds Robert Lauriston of Rose Pistola just after it opened and Reed Hearon was in the kitchen: simple, great flavors, and very Italian. (Corso’s chef is Elaine Rivera, who spent many years at Oliveto.)

Acquacotta, a minestronelike soup topped with toast and a soft-cooked egg, and the cauliflower sformatino, a custard with intense cauliflower flavor, are both “great” reports Robert Lauriston.

bigchowfun tried the pizza funghi (“crisp, charred crust, very flavorful, with a touch of truffle oil”), pasta with sugo (“luscious slow-cooked pork/beef”), and bollito with salsa verde (“melt-in-your-mouth beef”).

And the dessert of caramelized pear with vin santo sauce and whipped cream is “heavenly,” says bigchowfun, who adds that the wine list is “totally Italian but reasonably priced.”

The small plates, such as spinach with garlic and chile, and creamy fagioli beans, went down well with megek, who also likes having the option of ordering wine in half glasses and half carafes.

Layout-wise, the restaurant has an open kitchen with a counter, a bar area, and a large, communal table, which could prove useful, since Corso doesn’t take reservations, notes bigchowfun.

Corso [East Bay]
1786 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley
510-704-8004

Board Links: Corso (Berkeley)
rivoli on shattuck?

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