We search and search for "real" pizza in Orlando. We plummet with disappointment, time and again. Not so last night--in Clermont, Florida, of all places. In an L-shaped strip mall anchored by a Kmart, we were bounced back to our roots for an hour at Corelli, a glorified pizza place owned by folks from the Bronx. Yes, neighbors, you can find authentic New York pizza Corelli.
The photo alone tells the story: flat crust, gooey cheese, rich red sauce, browned bubbles along the edge, and specks of green. Better yet, the pie had a subtle lacing of garlic. This, my friends, is pizza.
The place seems pretty new. Its blog posts date to mid 2014. I can't tell for sure because the website offers little detail. (Maybe my new career should be writing restaurant websites. I already do that for resorts.)
When we walked in, we were greeted by what seemed like an extended family of no-nonsense folks with Bronx accents, who were hanging out in the open kitchen. To the left was a table loaded with Italian cookies packaged to go. We were quickly seated in the main dining room, a standard affair, upgraded, with spacious booths and pretty chandeliers. A second, smaller room, looks like a wine cellar and was hosting one large party at a long table.
The pizza is the highlight, but we liked the few other items we tried. The rolls were a low point--not bad, just disappointing because they look garlicky but don't tasty garlicky. That is not a crime.
I ordered eggplant rollatini, a dish I rarely see on Central Florida menus. It was good, as was the simple salad of mostly romaine, onion, tomato, and Italian dressing that came with it. It was also huge. With a side of red sauce, which I should have requested, the rollatini would have been a real treat. A gentle ricotta and other cheeses melded splendidly. Apparently I never took photos of the entrée or the salad.
My son ordered a chicken parmigiana sub. The inside was perfect for this kind of place; a nice piece of breaded and fried poultry topped with a rich red sauce and a nice mozzarella. If the roll had been a crustier New York hero sandwich, this would have been a Bronx classic. Alas, the restaurant is in Florida so it had the softer, denser traditional sub roll. We survived. The sandwich came with a bag of Lay's potato chips. We left it on the table.
We ended with a cannoli, which was stuffed to order, as it should be. The filling was exquisite. Really. Soft and just sweet enough--made with love, for sure.
It seems silly to drive half an hour for a slice of pizza and a cannoli, yet my family will be making that trek regularly. We found Corelli to be pretty swell.