Warm Olives and warm house-made gougères and baguette.

It seems that every couple of weeks another Italian restaurant crops up doing that whole “nonna” cookin’ schtick. These restaurants are like a wave washing upon a shore. A shore littered with the remains of those restaurants’ Italian brethren where their grandmothers may, or may not have, been in the kitchen. Normally, I’d say that Toronto doesn’t need more Italian fare served up. I really would. If only the fare wasn’t so damn good.

And so we have Campagolo, a new joint in the Dundas West area. The space is eclectic, with half the restaurant having an almost Victorian bent, and the other half done in exposed wood and neon-light accents. With a short menu, we were one dish shy of ordering the entire card between four people.

Of all the appetizers, the fresh burrata and roasted grapes would be my favourite. Salty, creamy, sweet, crunchy – all these things combining into some tasty bites. The rest of the table did not achieve my level of enjoyment – which meant more for me.

The cannelini beans with smoked hock, kale, and pasta ends made for a nice soupy dish. Certainly warming and tasty. Vaguely reminded me of a Chinese soup my mother makes.

Wild boar and polenta was also quite tasty, though I didn’t like the polenta as much. Rich and substantial, the boar and meatballs were quite filling.

House-made spaghetti all’amatriciana was really, really, good. We pined a little for bucatini instead of spaghetti, but it was only a minor gripe.

I love my pappardelle and this pappardelle with braised oxtail and rosemary was a solid dish.

And then, my favourite of the night: salted caramel budino. With crunchy chocolate meringue and salted caramel sauce, this is the best dessert I’ve had in recent memory. Just a lovely melding of texture and sweet and salty and chocolate. Good enough that I had wanted to stop by after visiting The Black Hoof the next day. Except that Campagnolo is closed on Mondays.

It’s hard to pin-point what is so good about Campagnolo. With high points for food (more dishes in the gallery below), interesting notes for decor, and an all-around comforting vibe that the space exudes, I’m not sure it really matters.

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More at Campagnolo

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