When the Marfia family designed the first Il Corso, an upscale Italian eatery that opened on Palm Desert’s El Paseo in 2014, the idea was to create a modern Tuscan village house to transport guests out of the desert and straight to one of the world’s greatest culinary destinations.
They’ve done just that inside the stylish space filled with imported stone and reclaimed wood. Both the Palm Desert location and the newly opened Il Corso Palm Springs offer a taste of authentic Italy, thanks to an impressive menu created by Sicilian-born chef Mario Marfia. “It’s things he’s cooked his whole life,” says his son Claudio Marfia, also a chef at Il Corso. (Matriarch Marika helms the family’s other restaurant, Tiramisu.) “We eat a lot of seafood, and we’re influenced not only by the different regions of Italy and Italian cooking but Morocco and North Africa,” he says.
The result is rustic-meets- innovative fare like oven-baked Mediterranean Branzino with tomatoes, olives, and herbs; grilled octopus plated with fresh green beans and baby potatoes; rosemary rack of lamb paired with rapini; and a mixed grill sampling of meat or seafood.
The Marfias pride themselves on making nearly everything in-house, from bread to gelato to many of the pastas, including the spinach-stuffed ravioli in a sage and butter sauce and the hearty lasagna.
At both locations’ sleek bars, you’ll find classic and newfangled Italian cocktails, an international wine list, and a bar menu of tapas-style plates of grilled shrimp skewers, arancini, osso bucco, and imported cheeses.
Photography by Kaminsky Productions