Restaurant review: Prepare to be wowed by Corniciones' tantalizing pizzas, pastas and more
New York-style pizza, hearty plates of pasta and massive strombolis await at the new Corniciones, an Italian eatery in Antioch that's well worth a trip to the northern edge of Lake County.
Located in the former Embers space, Corniciones is decorated with photos of New York pizzerias, hearkening back to the ethos of the menu, which has a wide selection of pasta, pizza, sandwiches and burgers. The bar serves domestic beers and wine.
We got our meal off to a strong start with soup, salad and a selection of appetizers that were a first glimpse into the delight of the meal to come.
We could smell the garlic Parmesan wings before they even got to the table; the robust cheesy and garlicky scent immediately drew our attention. And we were blessed with big pieces, lightly flavored with a sauce that could have been just a bit thicker but still tasted great. The wings were crispy as well, which can be hard to do with all that sauce.
We loved the mozzarella sticks as well. They're wrapped with won ton wrappers so the outside has a nice crunch to it, though they lacked that cheesy stretch you expect with mozzarella sticks.
The minestrone had a thicker tomato-based broth, seasoned well, with a generous amount of vegetables and pasta. The side salads were small but fresh, with enough dressing to suit even someone who loves a ton of it.
As with the wings, we were tantalized by the smell of our entrees before they made it to our table. We ordered a lot for our group: spaghetti and meatballs; baked ziti with sausage; penne a la vodka; the pizza bianca; a margherita pizza, and a pepperoni and mushroom stromboli. The pastas all came out first, and we were left waiting a while for the pizza and stromboli -- though the quality of our food more than compensated for the minor frustration.
All of the pasta was cooked perfectly, everything was steaming hot, and we loved each of the dishes. The three large meatballs were tender and seasoned well, served on top of a tangy tomato sauce and a bed of not-too-thick noodles. The penne a la vodka's sauce was smooth, with the right balance of tomato to vodka and cream. The baked ziti made up for our lack of stretchy cheese on the mozzarella sticks -- you could pull your fork a foot away and the cheese would still be stretching. We ordered it with sausage links, which came freshly sliced and fried, and in ample quantity.
The stars of the show, though, were the pizzas and the stromboli. All the dough is made from scratch on site and, paired with the toppings, the pizzas truly delighted.
The pizza bianca is on a slightly thicker crust, topped with mozzarella, ricotta, crushed garlic, thyme and basil. Everything balanced really well; no one flavor overpowered. The crust had a nice crisp to it so it held strong even with all the cheesy toppings. The margherita pizza was New York-style thin crust, topped with mozzarella and basil. Sometimes toppings can be lacking on margherita pizzas, but this had plenty of both mozzarella and basil, enough to get some of each in every bite. And the crust held a good fold without breaking.
The stromboli actually made us all gasp: It was humongous, with a crust that glistened beautifully with oil and garlic. It was more like a garlic bread than pizza crust, but wrapped inside was a slightly sweet tomato sauce with a ton of fresh, large mushrooms and other fillings. It took two to-go boxes just to pack the leftovers.
The desserts are in a case when you walk in the front door so you can survey the options. On the day of our visit, those included a variety of big colorful cheesecakes, cannoli, napoleons, and a basket of decorated brownies and cupcakes. The cheesecakes are all homemade, so we opted to try two -- a slice of the lemon cheesecake (highly recommended by our incredibly friendly waitress) and a slice of plain -- along with the cannoli.
These desserts rivaled some of the best I've ever had. The cheesecake was impossibly light and fluffy, and the lemon one was slathered with bright, tart lemon curd. The cannoli was large, stuffed with a rich filling and chocolate chips and wrapped in a perfectly crispy shell. If I wasn't already too full, I probably would have bought more.
We will be going back to Corniciones. The food is well-priced for the portions, and everything was absolutely delicious. Corniciones is on its way to becoming the new darling of the Antioch dining scene.
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1200 Main St., Antioch, (224) 788-9940, corniciones.com
Cuisine: Italian with New York-style pizza
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday
• Restaurant reviews are based on one anonymous visit. The Daily Herald does not publish reviews of restaurants it cannot recommend.