Ten varieties of oven-baked empanadas, including a classic carne with gently spiced ground beef, egg, raisins and green olives, are perfect for sharing before the main event—authentic Argentinean pizza.
Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria
Address: 137 Bannatyne Avenue
Phone: call sister restaurant Hermanos at 204-947-5434
Neighbourhood: Exchange District
Winnipeg restaurateur Noel Bernier has a master plan for Winnipeg's historic Exchange District.
Bernier wants to create a South American dining district in the city.
With the grand opening of Corrientes Argentine Pizzeria Tuesday July 3, Bernier—who also owns the slick South American steakhouse Hermanos —is well on his way.
Inside the former Exchange District Café at 137 Bannatyne, Bernier and his staff are committed to creating an authentic pizzeria experience like the one found on the famed Buenos Aires street, Corrientes Avenue. The nearly 70-block street is populated with theatres, pizzerias, cafés and bookstores and is a vibrant hub in Buenos Aires.
"It's the street that never sleeps," says Bernier, who wants to capture a slice of that vibe inside his 75-seat restaurant.
To help him achieve his goals at Corrientes, Bernier has enlisted the right kind of help. The vast majority of Corrientes staff are from Argentina, including executive chef Alfonso Maury and general manager Cynthia Murray.
But Bernier is very clear on one point. Even though Corrientes will serve from-scratch meals, it's not folksy, home cooking, he says. He is aiming for a Buenos Aires-style pizzeria that has a casual but sophisticated attitude.
So what's an Argentinian-style pizza?
In a nutshell, the crust is a lot thicker than typical pizzas and has three to four times the cheese. There's so much cheese, in fact, that you often can't see the crust or toppings. (Corrientes also serves a host of thin-crust pizzas and 13 varieties of empanadas. House-made desserts are also on the menu.)
During a pre-opening visit, the Banchero, a massive pizza pie cum calzone stuffed with dense, melted mozzarella captured our hearts. Heaps of white onions topped the pie and we expected to be overpowered by sharp, mouth-burning raw onions. We were so wrong. The onions were mild and tangy with just the right crunch and juiciness.
Corrientes also serves a full café menu and a short breakfast menu, including stuffed croissants, stuffed sweet and savoury empanadas and a cappuccino bar.
Meanwhile, Bernier also has another South American-style restaurant up his sleeve.
His next venture is Carnivale, a new steakhouse he expects to open in late fall.
Corrientes is open Monday to Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday from 7:30 a.m. to 1 a.m.; and Saturday 5 p.m. to 1 a.m. Closed Sunday.