Written by: Nick Persico
When you think of Downtown Clermont, your mind might not snap directly to the Italian-American markets of the northeast, I know mine didn’t. But Corelli’s pantry stands as a testament to the mom-and-pop markets of yesteryear, offering an authentic experience outside the realm of the kitschy recreations found up the road at the mouse house. The pantry cafe menu offers a slough of classic dishes. There are pasta dishes like lasagna or tortellini, sandwiches (including the classic sausage and peppers), salads and antipasta. During my visit I got the two slice daily special, opting to stick with cheese. For my drink, I chose a blood orange San Pellegrino. The slices were crisp, bigger than my head, immaculately toasted, and offered an excellently ‘instagrammable’ photo-op. The atmosphere was remarkably familiar, harkening to the Italian market-slash-small restaurants of the
Northeast. The pantry itself, while rather small, offers a great selection of Italian and Greek specialty grocery items. Some highlights were the selection of olive oils and balsamic vinegars, a wide array of antipasto favorites like olives, stuffed grape leaves, and jarred roasted red peppers, as well as an abundance of authentic and imported dried pasta. Unwilling to leave empty handed, I took home a can of Partanna, imported sicilian olive oil, which upon tasting quickly jumped to the top of my list of favorite things. The wine selection looms large throughout the front of the building, with bottles on display from nearly corner to corner and offers a great mix of both imported and domestic. Across the board, pricing is incredibly fair. My slices and Pellegrino totaled just over $6, and the grocery and wine selection is offered at very competitive prices. Browsing the menu, their pasta and sandwiches are also a good deal, especially taking into consideration the freshness of the ingredients.
What stuck with me following my visit to Corelli’s Pantry, had less to do with the food itself (though it was very, very good), but instead had more to do with the sheer enjoyment of being someplace so seemingly out of place and feeling so simultaneously right at home. Italian- American or not, there’s something about this place that evokes a marketplace atmosphere of a time gone by. It’s more than Italian, even reminiscent of the old storefronts of New York or Cleveland.
Staring out the cafe windows at the parked cars and cyclists on Montrose Street, I realized that Corelli’s is quintessentially Clermont, too. It brings with it all of the fun and exoticism of the Italian market, and makes it as local and as wholesome as the rest of the shops Downtown. For those familiar with the exceptional food at Corelli’s flagship Italian Restaurant, Corelli’s Pantry will not disappoint. Grab a slice or two and a Peroni (on draft, of course) and take home a bottle of wine and some good oil to complete the experience, trust me, you wont regret it.
732 W. Montrose St.
Clermont, FL 34711