JH and I went to Campagnolo a couple of years ago. Back then, it was one of our favourite meals, and whenever anyone bothered to ask for our opinion, we usually mentioned Campagnolo for a recommendation (at least for Italian). Given we have eaten around Toronto for awhile now, we decided to give Campagnolo another spin; perhaps to re-live that really great meal from a couple of years ago. We had meant to go back sooner, but it is hard with new restaurants coming out every week. You just want to try everything.
- Mood– Level.
- Focus– Date night.
- Craving – Fresh pasta.
- Feedback from the husband – He didn’t love the meal quite as much as he did a few years back. I shared the same thoughts. It might have been what we ordered, or maybe our tastes just have changed.
Campagnolo is located at 832 Dundas Street West, near Dundas and Euclid. We made a 6:30PM reservation, and got there barely on time with work and traffic. We got one of two window seats facing Dundas. The light and atmosphere was just perfect. The room was already busy when we got there, and by the time we left, the place was fully packed. I love the Campagnolo space because the dining room is spacious and open (versus all these narrow, skinny restaurants in Toronto). The space feels rustic, and I love any restaurant with an open-concept kitchen. Diners can opt to reserve a table facing the kitchen; in this instance, I just wanted a window seat for the natural light. When you enter the restaurant, you immediately see the bar to the right, the open-dining room to the left, and the kitchen to the back.
The menu looked very much the same as a few years ago. We ordered the burrata, a short rib dish, and a pasta a few years ago. On this date, we decided to re-try the burrata (because we thought it was so good), and each ordered a pappardelle and an agnolotti respectively.
JH tried to order this pistachio cocktail, but they were out of the pistachio ingredient, so he went with the Honey Fitz (bourbon, ginger, chartreuse, chamomile and honey for $14). He downed it pretty quickly.
Our server was great. He was enthusiastic, attentive and friendly. Water service was frequent, and we had no complaints with the service overall. Main courses were a bit slow to come after our appetizer, but the place was completely packed so we understood. Our server did drop by to give us updates on the food which we appreciated.
JH and I ended up ordering:
- The Fresh Burrata Cheese ($16) – with roasted grapes & toasted bread. This is one of their signature dishes, and a few years back, we were in love with this dish. This time around it only tasted okay. The cheese needed a bit more salt, and I think the dish would have felt more refined if the grapes were taken off the vine. I also wish the bread was a bit warmer. Only the grapes were warm, so you needed a grape in the bite for something warm. If you eat every component together – bread, grape and cheese, it did produce a good bite. It just did not wow us as much as the first time around.
- Pappardelle with Wild Boar Bolognese ($24) – with rapini and grana padano. The pasta tasted really fresh and homemade, and it was a good portion. It was a really rustic, homey dish and I enjoyed it. There was nothing too creative with the flavours, but it didn’t really matter because we just wanted a good pasta dish.
- Ontario Ricotta Agnolotti ($23) – with cookstown beets, coppa, flowering kale & salata (cheese). Our server caveated to us that the portioning on this dish was a bit on the smaller side, but because JH usually eats small dinners anyhow, we didn’t find any problems with the portion. The agnolotti was proportionally filled and was cooked the perfect al dente. We did not love the beet reduction all that much. It was really too sweet for our tastes, and we would have preferred a more savoury sauce. Our server validated that the sauce was reduced with sugar, explaining the sweetness.
All in all, it was still a solid meal. I still think Campagnolo is one of the better Italian options in the city (Buca, Trattoria Nervosa, Gusto 101 and Ardo being my other favourites – but I need to go back to all of them as well to validate my opinions), and I would still recommend it to anyone who asks for a good, rustic Italian dinner in downtown Toronto. I just don’t think we were as impressed as we were the first time. I guess with time, opinions can change. We might go back again one day, but it will probably be over some time again because there are too many new restaurants to try, and other old classics to re-live.
Other little details:
- Parking – We parked 50m from the restaurant along Dundas. Green P parking is available after 6:30PM on Fridays.
- There is no dress code. The restaurant has a nice, romantic atmosphere (with candles and rustic, antique-ish furniture), but it does not require dressing up.
- We got there a little late at 6:35PM, and left shortly before 8PM. The restaurant was full, and our table was the only available table when we left.
- We made a reservation on OpenTable.
- They take cash, credit, debit.
- Social Media – Instagram