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Apr 18, 2012 07:10 AM

The Campagnolo Thread - Hits and misses?

I don't see a thread dedicated to Campagnolo. I have seen it recommended in various threads but looking for recommended dishes. Heading there on Thursday for the first time. Their website is very basic with not much information:

From twitter it looks like Craig is in Montreal this week.

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  1. I haven't been in a while, but I remember their spaghetti all'amatriciana fondly. Here were my 2 cents:

    Of all the appetizers, the fresh burrata and roasted grapes would be my favourite. Salty, creamy, sweet, crunchy – all these things combining into some tasty bites. The rest of the table did not achieve my level of enjoyment – which meant more for me.

    The cannelini beans with smoked hock, kale, and pasta ends made for a nice soupy dish. Certainly warming and tasty. Vaguely reminded me of a Chinese soup my mother makes.

    Wild boar and polenta was also quite tasty, though I didn’t like the polenta as much. Rich and substantial, the boar and meatballs were quite filling.

    House-made spaghetti all’amatriciana was really, really, good. We pined a little for bucatini instead of spaghetti, but it was only a minor gripe.

    I love my pappardelle and this pappardelle with braised oxtail and rosemary was a solid dish.

    And then, my favourite of the night: salted caramel budino. With crunchy chocolate meringue and salted caramel sauce, this is the best dessert I’ve had in recent memory. Just a lovely melding of texture and sweet and salty and chocolate. Good enough that I had wanted to stop by after visiting The Black Hoof the next day. Except that Campagnolo is closed on Mondays.

    I feel like I enjoyed Enoteca Sociale a bit more often, but I also went to ES far more frequently (especially due to that Enomatic special they had going at one point). My last visit to Campagnolo was almost a year ago. It's about time to return! Want to try their $50 tasting. I also would recommend sitting at the kitchen bar if you can. Too bad about Craig being in MTL though - he's a fine host, even when busy at the burners!

    4 Replies
    1. re: jlunar

      Yes, the burrata and roasted grape dish is amazing! I had the same reaction, though my bf just thought it was okay. I think I talked about that dish for weeks after and have since tried replicating it at home many times haha

      I like the pastas there generally. I think they do interesting things w/ them and I liked them better than the ones I've had at enoteca sociale

      The budino was a bit too salty for my taste, but I don't seem to have the same appreciation for salty sweet that other ppl do.

      Really like Campagnolo overall and have been wanting to go back

      1. re: tygrr_lily

        I agree. I totally give the edge to Campagnolo for pastas. ES does better grilled items IMO!

      2. re: jlunar

        I've had the spaghetti all’amatriciana from Campagnolo and the bucatini all’amatriciana from ES - I loved the flavor from the one at Campagnolo - it was just so much better. Also agree that the roasted grapes and burrata is amazing. Lastly I once had a sous vide steak with Gorgonzola butter on top and it was really delicious. I should go there more often but it's tough with a newborn.

        1. re: cutehinano

          great apps, miserable mains. we ate the menu and the apps were uniformly good with a few minor personal misses. the burrata was great, the tartare was a little over-smoked for my taste (why disguise the beautiful flavour of raw red meat?), and the olives were tasty, but almost cooked, rather than "warmed"...the texture was a bit lost. all the other apps were enjoyed, but have been reviewed well above.

          the mains were a different story. halibut - overcooked (roasted artichokes with it were so good that they almost made up for that sacrilege). the pork was over-cooked and had no redeeming veg to make up for it. the agnolotti was pleasant, but the sweet on sweet was a bit much. maybe some spice, salt, or texture to contrast? the squid pasta was quite good, but if you fill any plate with 6 cloves of garlic, i'm always going to enjoy it at the time, but regret it later.

          the service was exceptional, as were the baguette and gougere. we did enjoy our meal, but over-cooking two of the three proteins (the halibut criminally so) is an amateur mistake

      3. Yesterday's menu. Does have daily tweaks, but I was passing by anyway!

        edit: too impossible to read on upload. Try this link instead:

        I'll delete that eventually.

        14 Replies
          1. re: jlunar

            Yes...thank you so much!! I've been dying to see their menu!!

            1. re: kwass

              Had a nice evening.

              Had an app not on that menu.... A shortrib dish... basically they were little battons of shortrib coated in breadcrumbs served with mustard sauce. Tasty. The Burrata was great.

              Pasta - we shared the papardelle and the agnolotti. I enjoyed both as did my Italian Canadian friend.

              I found the service to be friendly, but, at the risk of my server reading this, I found him a little odd.. Like, he was over the top pleasant, didn't feel natural.

              Overall, I would go back though but so many new places to try

              1. re: ylsf

                If you had Marcus (glasses and shoulder length brown hair), it's not an act. He really is that pleasant and easy going.

                  1. re: ylsf

                    Anyone ever sat at the Campagnolo chef's table? is it distracting or worth the experience?

                    Going on Saturday on a date with the wife.

                    1. re: dmartins123

                      I love sitting at the chef's bar. It overlooks the kitchen and they're generally good at chatting with people there. I enjoy talking with the chefs and staff and like watching the action by the stoves.

                      If you want some alone-time, this isn't your best bet; it's bar seating (of up to four), facing into the kitchen.

                      If it's worth or distracting is up to you and what kind of date you want!

                      1. re: jlunar

                        Had a really great dinner on saturday with the wife. we had a couple cocktails followed by some apps. I had a salad; she had the bone marrow which was literally heaven. we also shared the burrata/grapes which was very good and so simple (we plan to try it at home as I think I know their cheese source in vaughan....).

                        for mains, i had a halibut dish which was very well executed and balanced. my wife had the rabbit/veal agnolotti which was great however we both felt it lacked something...we both came to conclusion it need earthiness, like truffles.

                        my main point for writing today is to comment on the desserts. we decided to share the caramel and a pineapple/ice cream combination. the pineapple was a home run. the caramel, while very good, was just a little too much in the rich department. i liked it, but would not likely order it again.

                        service at campagnolo was spot on and the atmosphere was alive with people enjoying good dishes. total with tax and tip came to $230.

            2. re: jlunar

              Has anyone seen their menu lately? (Side note: It's a pet peeve of mine when restaurants don't post or update their menus online. Makes it really hard to know whether the place is veg-friendly.)

              1. re: piccola

                I haven't been recently, but they usually have at least 1 veg main. The menu tends to be limited, with less than 5 mains in my experience, so I don't consider it to be especially vegetarian-friendly. I enjoyed a pasta alla Norma (with eggplant) last year.

                Campagnolo tweets frequently, so you could ask about their current veg dishes through Twitter. I'd think the dishes might change frequently this time of year.

                1. re: prima

                  Hey, thanks for this - it's really, really useful. Will tweet at them.

                2. re: piccola

                  I also find it mightily annoying when online menus bear precious little relationship to the menu that's presented in the dining room. It's sloppy and careless, and makes me wonder how well-run the restaurant is. Especially for a first-timer - I like to know in advance what I'm getting myself in to. It has gotten so that any online menu too distant from the dining room menu doesn't get a return visit from me so quickly.

                  1. re: piccola

                    here's a menu from May 18th. They're really accommodating so I'm sure they would modify something to make it vegetarian if needed.

                    1. re: fickle

                      It looks like I could at least cobble together a meal from the apps, if the lone veg main doesn't appeal. (Those agnolotti sound great but I'm not banking on them still being available.)

                3. The original comment has been removed
                  1. I sat at the bar and had a great time.
                    Excellent bartender - great attention to detail and crafting of ingredients; good conversation too.
                    Food was not mind-blowing, but still extremely good.
                    I'd go back.

                    1. Went to Campagnolo a few weeks ago for an 8:30 PM reservation to an already pretty full restaurant. By the time we started to get our food, the place was jammed, very lively and honestly so loud I had to yell to be heard. Personally, i dont like noisy restaurants, but I think others might appreciate the atmosphere.
                      Service was very friendly and fun. It seems like they all kind of buss and serve each others tables, as we ordered from a variety of different servers throughout the night, all of which were super personable. The only issue I had (and maybe this was because of the fact that there was more than one server helping us out) was that at some point in the night, I ordered another cocktail from one of our servers which never actually made it to our table. Come to think of it, I didn't remember to check if it was on the bill or not.
                      Speaking of cocktails, we went with the 6 of Spades, featuring Jim Beam Black, Amaro Nonino, and Cynar (which was WAY to potent for moi), and the Limone which had lemon infused vodka, basil syrup and lemon (smooth, tart and very easy to drink). I think they have a pretty interesting cocktail menu, and I would definitely consider returning even if just for a few cocktails and snacks at the bar.
                      Onto food. The menu is small and changes daily, though a few of the dishes are more "signature" and stay on rotation more often. We ordered:

                      House-made Baguette and Gougeres- Bread (unfortunately) does not automatically come to the table, and thus had to be ordered a la carte, but for $4, this was an absolute must. The gougeres were light, warm and fluffy, and the baguette had a beautiful crust, both of which were delicious with a smear of whipped butter.
                      Warm Olives- Another nice small starter. A good selection of olives, aromatized with various herbs and seasonings, and served at a perfectly pleasing temperature. Perhaps a little expensive for the small price, but if you are an olive lover, this is a nice way to start the meal.
                      Fresh Burrata Cheese with Roasted Grapes and Toasted Bread- This was the highlight of the whole meal. The bread was thickly cut, with a gorgeous crunchy exterior and a garlic-buttery texture within. The burrata was incredibly creamy, and melted just slightly on top of the bread, soaking up all of garlic and olive oil aroma. But what really made this dish unique were the roasted grapes, which gave a nice wine-like sweetness to balance out the richness of the cheese, while also adding an interesting textural contrast with that supple, but tenderized pop of the grape. I would order this again and again.
                      Prosciutto, Arugula and Smoked Scarmorza Piadina- Another lovely appetizer. I would describe this as a little Italian quesadilla, served with a sweet and tangy romesco sauce (roasted red peppers, olive oil, and ground nuts) in place of sour cream or salsa. While I loved the savoury fillings against the slightly sweet romesco sauce (which I happened to like so much I ended up smearing it on the bread as well), I did find the bread a bit too greasy. My fingers were coated in oil after eating this dish, which is never really ideal.
                      House-Made Spaghetti All'Amatriciana- This was probably the winner of the two pastas. The spaghetti was cooked perfectly al dente, and the sauce was impeccably balanced. It was slightly sweet and acidic from the tomatoes, lightly salty from the pecorino and pork, and a little spicy from the hot pepper. It was a deliciously light, bright summer dish, served in what we both viewed as an appropriate portion.
                      Tagliatelle with Veal and Duck Liver Bolognese- Again, the pasta was nicely cooked, but this sauce was very different. It was rich and meaty, and while I sometimes find ground meat to taste "dry" in pasta dishes, the liver really helped the veal maintain its moisture. This dish certainly had a deeper savoury flavour in comparison to the slightly sweet, more acidic all'amatriciana sauce. It was a solid dish, but my taste preference gives the edge to the spaghetti.
                      Salted Caramel Budino- The biggest disappointment of the night was that we didn't order two of these. This was a delicious and surprisingly light ending to a fabulous Italian meal. We got a nicely portioned pot of mousse-like caramel pudding that had been lightly aromatized with spiced rum, topped with crunchy chocolate meringues, caramel sauce and a sprinkle of sea salt. I am a huge fan of salted anything, but particularly caramel, so this was a winner for me. And actually, unlike most caramel dishes, this one was really low on the sweetness factor, which perhaps was why I was left feeling as though I could have gobbled up another portion. I particularly loved the crunchy light meringues, which really held up their integrity against the moisture of the pudding, and added a wonderful textural contrast that I think you really need with any pudding-type dessert.

                      So for two bottles of sparkling water, 2 cocktails, 1 glass of wine, 1 cappuccino (which was one of the best I have had in a long time), 4 appetizers, 2 mains and 1 dessert, the bill came to $175 including tax and tip. Absolutely worth every penny. It has been a while since our trip to ES, but from what I can recall, I think Campagnolo wins it for me.


                      7 Replies
                      1. re: hungryabbey

                        excellent report, hungryabbey! I've eaten there a few times and enjoyed most of my dishes. I have not tried the budino yet but it's on my list after having read your description.

                        1. re: hungryabbey

                          We had an amazing dinner there recently as well. Had most of what you had as well as the short ribs bitterballen. Omg this was my favorite thing of the night even though I love the spaghetti. It's like a long rectangular croquette fill with braised short ribs. The mustard that came with it was outstanding too. Unfortunately I could not have either dessert as I'm temporarily off chocolate and nuts while breastfeeding! Service was great too. We were there with our baby in a stroller and they found a spot in the corner for us where we could park the stroller. And because it's so loud in there any sound my baby made got drown out (but she was very well behaved so no issue there). I can't wait to go back.

                          1. re: cutehinano

                            I'm heading for my first time tonight and have questions about constructing my meal. The apps that seem like must tries are the baguette, the burrata and the bone marrow. That is three heavy bread courses which seems a little too heavy, given that I'd want to eat pasta after that.

                            How are portion sizes, and is it worth it to get the three bread heavy dishes above? Any recs to cut the heaviness of my meal? Would anyone recommend the sardines or another dish that was on the menu the other night?


                            1. re: glickjor

                              I don't really consider the marrow or the burrata to be heavy bread courses.That being said, I'd share the burrata and marrow with a friend or 2, or plan to take some home in a doggie bag- I'd find a full order of either of those antipasti a little rich for 1 person. :-)

                              The pastas are closer to primi-sized than Grazie-style main course sized. I think Campagnolo's portions tend to be a little lighter than Enoteca Sociale's. Maybe a little more than a generous cup of cooked pasta per pasta order. I didn't find the pasta to be a heavy course.

                              Check out the portions in these photos:

                              1. re: prima

                                Those are some pretty delicious looking photos. Now I'm super excited!!!

                                1. re: glickjor

                                  This is my enthusiastic report from a meal that my wife and I thoroughly enjoyed despite several ups and downs:

                                  First thing, our service was fantastic. Our waitress was the perfectly attentive without being overbearing.

                                  We started with two absolutely delicious cocktails, the Pimm's cup and a second, tequila based drink with lemon and clove. Both were absolutely delicious, perfectly balanced and refreshing.

                                  We ordered the olives, baguette and gougeres to start. All were delicious but I couldn't help feeling like 10 bucks was a little steep when in many restaurants, bread (and sometimes olives) are complementary. This is the ONLY thing that I thought was overpriced on the menu, though, and we still enjoyed both.

                                  As apps, we ordered Burrata and bone marrow. Unfortunately, a rather long and obvious hair was waiting for us on the burrata. No questions asked they fired us a second one and from a timing perspective, it probably worked out better as apparently the bone marrow takes longer and we wanted those apps to arrive at the same time as my wife won't eat the marrow.

                                  Both Apps were delicious and while I'm not sure I'd run back for the burrata, I could've bathed in the marrow. The oxtail and marmalade topping was a perfect complement to the rich and delicious marrow.

                                  For mains, we ordered the Spaghetti Amatriciana and the fresh trout on a bed of cauliflour puree with rapini. The spaghetti was very nice, not as revelatory as, say, scarpetta's signature, but still very good. The trout was cooked beautifully. Unfortunately, the rapini was salted to the point that it was inedible (and I am the type who douses everything I eat with salt). We pointed out the saltiness of the rapini and our waitress was very receptive.

                                  Our waitress then came over and told us that the chef would like to offer us some complementary dessert, which we thought was very generous and a nice thing to do, given the hair in the burrata. They brought us out the caramel budino and a homemade pie. The budino was delicious, though both my wife and I felt that like some other dishes, it was too heavy handed with salt. A touch of salt in a dessert brings out flavour, a lot of salt in a dessert just makes it salty. Pie was good - could've used some "a la mode" to make it better.

                                  All-in, and in spite of a couple of hiccups, my wife and I had a great night and are looking forward to returning. I hope what I say next comes across as I mean it but for my wife and I, I think this restaurant has the potential to give us a flawless and delicious meal. Last night we were 80% there but I look forward to even better in the future.