This guest post is from by friend Erin, whose latest dining adventure took her to Campagnolo for Italian food inspired by the chef's Venetian nonna. Campagnolo means "country bumpkin" in Italian, but as Erin tells us, you wouldn't know that from the cuisine. Rosie :)
I love Dundas West. What used to be a tired strip of dilapidated real estate is now a thriving restaurant destination attracting diners from all over the city. Nestled amongst an eclectic group of newly sprung eateries is Campagnolo, where hipster gentrification meets the farm-to-table movement. The menu is concise - just 13 items with five staples, and is printed daily to take advantage of what's fresh and seasonally available. To start, our knowledgeable waiter wisely steered us towards the fresh burrata cheese on top of delicately flavoured toasted bread, drizzled in olive oil, garlic and adorned with roasted grapes. I fell in love.
However, I was less enamoured with our second appetizer, the ceviche. Normally bursting with citrus, this one mostly tasted of salt. Fortunately, our mains reminded us of why a dinner reservation at Campagnolo is so sought after. Smoky Norwegian trout tasted freshly caught, and my delicately stuffed ricotta agnolotti was paired perfectly with firm, fresh summer peas and beet puree. Farm-to-table indeed. Salted caramel budino then capped off our excellent summer meal. Budino (Italian for pudding) was smooth decadence with just the right amount of salt to complement the caramel.
Campagnolo's popularity is evident the moment we walk in the door, no doubt thanks to great word-of-mouth and glowing reviews. The room itself is fairly compact (so make a reservation) and sparsely decorated. Wood beams, tables and unadorned walls pay homage to the rustic menu, but the hard surfaces do little to soften the noise of other patrons. I frequently had to ask my dining companion to repeat himself throughout our meal, so if you're hoping to have an intimate conversation over dinner this may not be the spot for you. After dinner, we lingered over our wine - well chosen by our waiter who convinced us to try it after sharing that the producer frequently played opera to the grapes on the vine for a more robust flavor. Well played Campagnolo. Erin.