Via Paolo Sarpi had me from Jin Yong. I’ve always been Chinese-food obsessed and I love me a Chinatown, and Via Paolo Sarpi, a long pedestrian-only street is the heart of Milan’s. Then I learned about Cantine Isola, one of the best wine bars in Milan, and I didn’t think it was possible for me to love Via Paolo Sarpi anymore. Until now.
So, Friday night, after finishing dinner with one of my partners in Sauce Milan crime Sara Porro at our beloved Jin Yong, we decided to amble along Via Paolo Sarpi in search of a rumored new gelato shop. We crossed the Via Paolo Lomazzo intersection, glanced left and stopped in place when we caught sight of inviting yellow wall illuminating through the tall windows of “Corey’ Soul Chicken.” Now I wish this story proceeds with us “discovering” fried chicken in Milan for ourselves but I must give credit where it’s due. Sauce Milan friend, green juice guru and fellow Yonkers native Elena Ciprietti had tipped me off to an awesome fried chicken place in Milan that’s run by an American from Kentucky who uses his family recipe. Coincidently, I had mentioned this to Sara during dinner, so instead of “what’s this?” my reaction was more along the lines of an excited, “Oh my gosh! This is the place I was talking about!” We peeked inside and a charming, smiling lady came outside to give us a menu. Thoughtful, no? We made a note to visit soon and continued on what wound up being a failed mission to find the the new gelateria.
Now, Saturday rolls around and I had fried chicken on my mind all day, which I had worked away to meet a looming deadline and honestly, I just didn’t feel like cooking come dinnertime so I thought why not reward all of my hard work with some fried chicken? It seemed fairly well-deserved after having had passed an entire Saturday in front of the computer. So as I am placing my order at Corey’s, I hear a graciously enthusiastic voice exclaim, “You speak English?” I look up to see a man with the warmest smile and kindest eyes that I’ve ever seen in my life, all brilliantly offset by the American flag bandana atop his head. It was Corey in the flesh! We started chatting away and bonded immediately. I have to say that there are only two people in the world who have instantaneously elated my spirits to such towering heights and they are Ellen DeGeneres and Jimmy Fallon. No, I have not met them, but watching them just makes me happy. I smile, I giggle, I laugh, and temporarily forget about the doom and gloom of today’s world; Corey has that very same effect! He emits warmth, sunshine, happiness, sincerity and love. He’s the kind of person you just want to be around. In fact, it was impossible to not smile in his presence and I hope that all of my smiling didn’t freak him out!
I took home six fingers, two wings, a side of baked beans in barbecue sauce and—wait for it—a root beer! Yes, Corey sells root beer (and Dr. Pepper!). I hadn’t drank a root beer in eons and couldn’t resist nabbing a can so I could let childhood nostalgia overcome me as I sipped away. The chicken? Awesomely addictive. The batter—Corey’s grandma’s recipe–is insanely tasty and adheres to the criminally tender chicken meat beautifully. I devoured it and wished that I had ordered like four more wings. I WhatsApp’d Sara to tell her that Corey Soul’s Chicken rocks and that the man behind it is ethereal.
Fast forward to Sunday afternoon. Sara was lunching at Corey’s Soul Chicken and she invited me to join. So join them I did! This time around, I enjoyed six wings with a side of sautéed spinach, and a few of Sara’s sriracha topped hand-cut fries. And another root beer of course. The décor’s warm color palette coupled with Corey’s equally warm hospitality and kindness are evidence enough that the love at Corey’s Soul Chicken isn’t just in the food…it’s everywhere! Thoughtful touches abound! The walls display African American artwork from Paris-based artist Ealy Mays, with one painting that depicts the 2012 American presidential election. Heck, there’s even a Corey’s Soul Chicken welcome mat outside the front door with the coy-looking chicken logo and everything. I would also like to dish out some bonus points for WiFi, which, as I’ve previously lamented, can–at times–seem few and far between here.
I find it incredibly gratifying to know that such a place serving up the familiar flavors of one of my favorite American comfort foods exists in Milan, and the 15-minute walk from my apartment to my new favorite place is even more gratifying. If you live in Milan and haven’t been to Corey’s Soul Chicken, do yourself a favor and go. Please. If you don’t live in Milan but are visiting, add it to your list. Reasonable prices, good food and the gem that is Corey are the perfect equation for a happy occasion.
The lovely side dishes rotate, from what I understand, so I’m crossing my fingers for mac-n-cheese! I have no doubt in my mind that the potato salad lives up to the hype, but my mayonnaise aversion hinders me from sampling it anytime soon, sadly. I was remiss in neglecting to order the corn bread both times, but if anything, these two slip-ups gave me yet another reason to return. As if I’m really in need another reason…
Corey’s Soul Chicken; Via Paolo Sarpi, 53; + 39 02 8421 2963
Tuesday – Thursday, Sunday: 11am to 3pm; 5:30pm to 10pm
Friday & Saturday: 11am to 3pm; 5.30pm to 11pm
Note: This post originally appeared on Sauce Milan.