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A short break from politics to review the new Campagnolo

December 11th, 2008 · 6 Comments

I wish I were a more serious person, really I do. But I can only do so much politics and, since it’s midnight and I see the blog-readers and their comments are still rolling in, here’s a little taste break for all of you.

So, I posted a couple of weeks ago that I was devastated that Aurora Bistro had closed. (It is SO a serious issue, you doubters. Aurora’s exquisite food, in between the inimitable Pulp Fiction Books and a comic store, was ur-Main Street — haute plus grunge plus English lit majors, all mixed up together.)

Someone who took pity on me let me know that Campagnolo, a new restaurant being started by the owner/operator of Fuel over on West Fourth, was going to be opening further down Main. In the old Adega Restaurant, near the Ivanhoe, to be exact.

So I started calling to find out when they were in business (not the weekend before last, as it turned out, when they were still “one permit away”) and finally scampered down to try them out on Saturday.

Okay, not Aurora. The room is less cozy, more what I called “unfinished basement” theme — cinderblock walls and what felt like bare bulbs hanging over the tables — and larger.

But the food — yum. And different. What I’d call gourmet rustic/farmer Italian. The white beans with sage in them were a flavour hit every time I took a spoonful. My partner’s pasta had that great handmade feel and a rich sauce with bits of pork in it. They served these amazing home-baked grissini as bread, little stalks of them in a glass. My flank steak had some kind of greenish parsley plus ? sauce that was another unique taste. (Gee, this food writing stuff is harder than I thought.) I had the loveliest glass of wine, too, so yellow. I don’t remember the name, but the Pinot Grigio by the glass, the second, more expensive one.

Anyway, I’ll definitely go back for the food. (The owner said the decor will be better too. They’re going to paint some walls and replace the single bare bulbs with little birds’ nests of bulbs.) And the parking situation can’t be beat — lots of it right on the street. In that part of town, I guess the locals don’t have a car or the visitors are driving BMWs that they don’t bother to park because all they’re doing is tossing out bags of dope and picking up money. There’s also a little bar in the back, behind the kitchen, that’s more intimate feeling.

But sadly, not a replacement for Aurora, which felt like a real neighbourhood place. Campagnolo is definitely good, but it feels more like a destination place, although maybe not for the Citygate residents.

Okay, there ends another review in the “Food Critic for the Not-Too-Drecky Restaurants Within One Kilometre of My House” section of this unmass media outlet.

Categories: Uncategorized

  • Wagamuffin

    In Toronto, of course, great little neighborhood bistros sit cheek-by-jowl. Yummy, basic food.


  • Bob Ransford

    “greenish parsley plus” – perhaps gremolata?

  • fbula

    Oh Bob,

    Another sign that I shouldn’t be let out of the house. Yes, that’s probably what it was. I’ve read about it a million times, but never made it or connected to what was on the plate.


  • A. G. Tsakumis

    Sorry, Bob, I was going to say something, but I was afraid Frances would get sensitive…and I hate that…

    Yes, gremolata…ugh! You mean you didn;t know?!?!?!?

    Okay, okay, I’m sorry, no more making it clear that we deeply love one another, lest you lose about 5,000 posters…


  • Greg Garden

    I tried the flank steak and asked about the green underneath, it is house made salsa verde. Never mind that – the little balls of marscapone cheese covered in semolina (upon further questioning I discovered these are called gnudi) are outrageous. The crispy chickpea starter is worth a try too.

  • Um, let’s agree and disagree at the same time. Yes, it’s not Aurora (and thank God for that). It’s Campagnolo and I think it should be a hit. I don’t know how on the planet you could think that Aurora Bistro felt “like a real neighbourhood place” (leave that to Rhizome, which is indeed, a community-building place) but, since I really like your writing and respect your work, and since you loved Campagnolo apparently just as much as I do, I’ll let it slide 🙂