Stephen Travels

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Sorge's, Corning, New York

Sorge’s (Corning, New York)

Shopkeepers were closing their establishments for the day, drivers were removing their cars from the city’s historic West Market Street, and Corning was settling in for a peaceful night. In the middle of it all, however, Sorge’s was coming to life. The floor-to-ceiling windows on the first floor of the Italianate building revealed happy diners in a seemingly convivial atmosphere, so I followed my intuition and entered the wildly popular restaurant.

I waited a bit until one of its 30 completely occupied booths and tables became available. The patrons around me seemed comfortable and rather content, and I could tell that many of them were repeat customers, perhaps some of the original ones, from when Sorge’s Restaurant opened in 1951 with just 11 booths.

Established by immigrants Renato Sorge and his brother, Remo, from the small town of Strangolagalli, Italy, Sorge’s quickly became the finest Italian restaurant around, thanks to authentic meals prepared by Renato and his wife, Loretta. Physical expansions of the restaurant followed in 1962 and 1968, and the family business grew further when Renato’s two sons signed up. Following a devastating fire in 2008, Sorge’s resurrected its proud history and traditions: replicas of its old tile floor, reproductions of its paintings of Strangolagalli, warm service, and, most of all, reasonably priced, fine Italian cuisine.

Fork and KnifeTry This: Order a glass of Italian or local New York wine as you ponder the appetizers. The homemade minestrone or the Italian artichokes are a great way to start, but I began with half-moons of mozzarella fried to a crispy golden brown and served with homemade tomato sauce. The homemade lasagnas all sound fantastic, and the homemade pastas allow you to pick and choose your toppings and sauces, but I went for the perfectly prepared pesto salmon with basil, roasted grape tomatoes, Asiago cheese, and asparagus. From the list of homemade cakes for dessert, you can’t go wrong with the chocolate cake or the cheesecake served with berries.