1020 Main Street
T: 604 484 6018
Brief Description: A casual, rustic restaurant that focuses on affordable seasonal cuisine from the Piedmont and Emigila-Romagna regions of Italy.
A true diamond in the rough. Campagnolo is located in the not-so-great area of Main Street but don’t let that put you off. If you make the journey you will be rewarded as this is not your typical Italian restaurant. You will not find red and white checkered table cloths or the obligatory spaghetti bologanise and greasy pizza. Yes, there is pizza and pasta on the menu but it’s not what you think…
Campagnolo is the second “child” of the owners who run the very successful Fuel in Kitsilano. It really is the odd duck out in that part of Main Street. With a huge inviting window in the front you can’t help but be drawn to the fact that the restaurant is, well, different from it’s surroundings. Walk inside and you’ll find that the decor is minimalistic with a modern urban feel. The use of old growth fir wood as a feature works well to bring a slight softness to the space.
Elements of the decor are mirrored in the food. Comfortably understated and simple, the menu is unpretentious and trys to remain loyal to its well-researched Northern Italian roots with a strong focus on pastas, pizzas, and characuterie plates (“the ‘Cure”). You may, however, need to ask your server for an explanation of some of the dishes as the menu can be slightly difficult to understand. The drinks list has been carefully selected to only represent Italian or BC beers and wines.
Although B frequently visits Campagnolo, I have only managed to make it there twice so far. On the day that we went for our second visit together, I managed to convince him to share the Albacore Tuna Crudo with white bean, oregano and garlic bread crumb for an appetizer. The delicate pieces of sushi grade tuna initially seemed out of place with the earthy white beans, oregano and garlic bread crumbs but the first bite proved me wrong. The flavours actually worked surprisingly well together. I’m not really sure how prominent albacore tuna is in Northern Italian cooking but it was so good that I won’t question it.
B continues to rave about the Tagliarini pork ragú with basil and pecorino and, so far, has not ordered anything else but this dish on the many occasions that he has been there. It must be the tender shredded pieces of pork that sit proudly atop the fresh home-made ribbons of pasta that keep him coming back for more. I thoroughly enjoyed the Tagliarini the time that I ordered it and the only thing that stopped me from getting it again was because I wanted to try something new.
The Carnaroli Risotto made with anise, black olive and tarragon was a pleasant surprise and thankfully, the quality was on par with the Tagliarini. I wasn’t expecting it to be as creamy as it was but the black olives added a certain amount of punctuation to the dish, in just the right places.
I have yet to try any of the actual desserts, mainly because I have no room left after eating their entrees. Although, being that we were in an Italian restaurant, I just couldn’t say no to ending our meal with a coffee and the house-made biscotti and meringues. A perfect ending to a lazy Saturday lunch.
Final Thoughts: A breath of fresh air to the Italian restaurant scene in Vancouver. The food is delightful in it’s simplicity and is thoughtfully selected and prepared.