Dining and Drink

Food Fight's newest restaurant is inspired by the head chef's Italian hometown

Bar Corallini offers fare with modern flair

The backstory: All this place needs is a seaside breeze to transport you to the Gulf of Naples. Bar Corallini, No. 20 in the Food Fight Restaurant Group family, opened this summer in the former Chocolaterian space on Atwood Avenue and offers classic Italian fare with a modern flair. What's special about this place is that its concept is inspired by chef Giovanni Novella's hometown of Torre del Greco in Naples, Italy. Food Fight Chief Creative Officer Caitlin Suemnicht says Bar Corallini is one of two Food Fight restaurants inspired by its chef's background (Eldorado Grill being the other). Novella, who didn't know any English when he came to the United States eight years ago, has been with Food Fight for three years, formerly serving as executive chef at Cento and Fresco.

The vibe: You already know the interior is going to be gorgeous if the Madison design company Art & Sons had something to do with it. The details come into focus as you walk through the long space — tufted green leather bar stools sit atop eye-catching multicolored tiles around a curved art deco Italian- and Roman-influenced bar; lush hanging plants stretch nearly the length of the restaurant; and arched walls allow you to see into the kitchen, which features a mosaic tile-covered, wood-burning oven. Suemnicht, who helped with the interior design, says the restaurant's interior masterpiece is the antiquated brass bar that stands out when guests enter. 

The menu: This restaurant is tailored to showcase Novella's Italian roots. On the menu are Neapolitan pizzas cooked in a wood-burning oven, plus other dishes and appetizers, some featuring fresh, house-made mozzarella. But the menu's focal point is pasta, including such dishes as gnocchi alla Romana, tagliatelle alla Bolognese and eight finger cavatelli. (Bonus: There's a vegan menu, too!)

The must-try: To go along with your fresh pasta or Neapolitan pizza, order a negroni to make it a truly Italian meal. The cocktail acts as a good aperitif before your main dish. Served on tap, the house negroni is made with State Line Distillery gin, Campari and sweet vermouth.

The bottom line: Food Fight and chef Novella nailed it with this concept. Novella, who designed the kitchen, put the pasta-making station under the restaurant's bay window overlooking Winnebago Street, so it's visible to sidewalk pedestrians. He's proud to display his work, which is as beautiful as it is meaningful.

2004 Atwood Ave., 709-1316

Andrea Behling is editor of Madison Magazine.

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