Went last night with 3 friends; reservations for 8pm, were immediately seated. We were given the table that looks into the kitchen with sliding glass windows. Kinda cool to have your amuse bouche and appetizers passed through the window. :-) Also enjoyed watching the kitchen staff do their stuff in small quarters.
Several in our party go to La Campania about 6-8 times a year, so they had some good recommendations. We let the owner choose our wines - a 2003 Vietti Scarrone for the first bottle. Nice and lightly fruity, but not heavy tannins, so it wouldn't interfere with those getting seafood. The 2nd bottle was a BelGaurdo Morellino (not on their website list). It was good; slightly less fruity, and a bit more heavy with the tannins - but still excellent.
The amuse bouche we were given was a single, jumbo tempura shrimp with freshly chopped tomatoes and a drizzle of something on the plate I couldn't determine. The shrimp and very light batter were perfectly done - this was probably the best tempura I've ever had.
We all got gnocchi to start, thinking they were going to be smaller portions, but these were healthy sized dishes! The gnocchi were tender and light, served in a slightly spicy tomato-based sauce with two meaty veal knuckles or marrow-type bones. Tender veal meat, and the two large shavings of excellent Parmigiana-Reggiano over top really made this a wonderful start to our meal.
Two of us got the 1-1/2 lb. lobster with a tarragon reduction. They split the lobster, did a quick sauté over very very high heat, added a fruity olive oil and wine, and then into the oven to finish roasting. They did a wonderful job with this - tender, sweet lobster, served over pasta with a wine/tarragon "sauce".
Another got a beef tenderloin with a farro "risotto", sauteed watercress, grilled oyster mushrooms, and a wonderful barolo red wine demi-glace. Very very good! My choice was a duck confit, with a crispy leg and seared breast of duck. Lordy, lordy - I was in HEAVEN. The menu says it was stuffed with white raisins, pignoli, and Gaeta olives, but I didn't see any - maybe underneath? It had sauteed escarole alongside, and was napped with a lightly sweet brandy sauce and a fresh berry compote (couldn't figure out the fruit - tangy - maybe cranberries?). But not overly sweet, as Dali can sometimes do with their duck - just absolutely perfect. The breast slices were perfectly medium, with a nice reddish-pink to the slices, but not towards the rare side. Just wonderful!
For dessert, we pre-ordered their two special desserts - a hot chocolate souffle with a vanilla bean gelato and hot chocolate ganache, and a pear crostata tart with the vanilla bean gelato. We also ordered a sampling of 4 sorbets (mango, lemon, raspberry and one other) in little tuille baskets (they tasted like freshly made Chinese fortune cookies ). The mango and lemon sorbets were magnificent, but the pear crostata was, by far, the best dessert.
Cappuchino for one, two Grand Marniers for two of us, and we were done. Perfectly paced meal over 3 hours, excellent service from the staff, and beautifully decorated surroundings.
Before tip, dinner was $450 (I think the two bottles of wine were in the $50-75 range). Definitely a "most favored restaurant" in my book - a great place for a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary.
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