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Dec 24, 2001 01:18 PM

Campagnola in Evanston

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Got a gift certificate to Campagnola in Evanston for Xmas. Any opinions on upstairs v. downstairs, what to order, what to avoid? Thanks.

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  1. Sit upstairs if you can. It's much quieter there, near the fireplace inglnook and the wine room. You also get to see the el periodically rumble by outside the window, letting you experience that rare combination of urban/cozy.

    I've usually ordered the specials there, and was never disappointed. Oxtail stew, duck ravioli, grouper, all good. I'm always tempted by the brick oven pizzas, but can't bring myself to order one instead of the less 'everyday' offerings. Save some room for the cheese tray.

    Despite its upscale menu, it really feels like a neighborhood joint. Friendly, unpretentious service. I hope it stays that way. I trust chowhounds with it. Have a great evening.

    3 Replies
    1. re: A Okrent

      Is upstairs or downstairs the "trattoria" part? I haven't been there since they did the separation. Supposedly one part is cheaper/simpler than before, but the menu didn't seem to be any less, and the upscale offerings seemed to be a bit more...

      1. re: leek

        A gift certificate to Campagnola? Lucky you! The upstairs and downstairs havae separate menus; downstairs is more casual, but don't think pasta with red sauce. Michael has a way with a wood-burning oven and calamari that can't be denied! You'll find a number of different pizza and pasta options, salads and starters and some beautiful entrees, all made with organic ingredients. Yum. Upstairs is quieter, and the food is a little more challenging, and more expensive, certainly. It reminds me of the contrast between Frontera Grill and Topolobampo. We had a fantastic meal upstairs, and I would highly recommend the prix fixe menu -- a very good value, actually, which allows you to try a number of courses in half portions (more than enough food, believe me). We live in Evanston and have been going to Campagnola since it opened. It's wonderful.

        1. re: chernoff

          is it necessary to specifically ask to be seated upstairs? does the upstairs have a separate reservation line? we've only been there once, and we weren't given the option of dining upstairs - either when we made the reservation or when we showed up. our (downstairs) meal was very good, but I was a little disappointed to learn about this "upstairs" which might have offered us such a special experience, had we known about it.

    2. I once had an order of penne with roasted vegetables and fennel sausage that was the best pasta dish I'd had in years. The chef, Michael Altenberg, who is a gracious man, always willing to talk with customers, said that the sauce was a bit of oil, a bit of honey, currants, and I believe some sherry vinegar.
      The Caesar Salad was made with Romaine Hearts and white anchovies, delicious. There are always terrific dishes on the menu when I've dined there, and I think the upstairs room is a bit quieter.
      I enjoyed the meals I've had there.