Having already been to Enoteca Sociale (and loving it, of course), I was eager to get to the other noteworthy Italian establishment that it’s always compared to, Campagnolo. It has taken me a while to get myself there because they are always booked way in advance on weekends, and it seems every time I make a reservation that far ahead, I have to change it for some reason when something comes up. But thankfully, on Saturday, I actually made it there! And it turned out to be a perfect day for a date night out because I was totally exhausted from driving to and from the Canadian Association of Food Studies conference in Waterloo, and [despite the conference theme], I was pretty hungry by the time I made it home.
We arrived at Campagnolo on time for our 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. You know me, I’m not a fan of that at dinner… it kind of stresses me out. But I can appreciate that a lot of people love the busy vibe.
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.
Another nice small starter. A nice 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, so much so that we decided Campagnolo could become one of our more “regular” dinner spots.
Updated on December 15th, 2015
Abbey Sharp is a Registered Dietitian (RD), regulated by the Ontario College of Dietitians. She is a mom, YouTuber, Blogger, award winning cookbook author, media coach specializing in food and nutrition influencers, and a frequent contributor to national publications like Healthline and on national broadcast TV shows.