Il Campanello, Aug. 23, 2005

Il Campanello
136 W. 31st Street

August has been a month of catching up with old friends. And so the trend continues this week by having dinner with Kathy and Mike. Our first choice and local favorite, Penelope, was closed for vacation (for the week), so we went on one of Kathy's suggestions, Il Campanello, a place she walks by on occasion to the train station after work.

So we head over there to see Kathy and Mike with a bit of a concerned look on their face. The place certainly had a uniqueness to it. Canvas-covered/backed seats made the place look a bit formal, and the wooden dance floor that most of the tables surrounded made for many a quizzical look.

I'd seen this type of set up before at La Belle Epoch, where my friend Alex was a bartender. A dining hall in a dauntingly large space, this one with a loft area for additional seating, doubled as a tango training grounds. This could get interesting...

The menu itself had a split personality, having both Argentinian and Italian offerings like skirt steak and short ribs and Crostino di Muzzarella and Pollo Toscano, respectively.

In fact, I ordered both the Crostino di Muzzarella and Pollo Toscano. The fried mozzarella with mushroom sauce was quite good. One of the better versions I've had of this, but the portions were small. Two small triangles, whereas I've had three such triangles served to me in the past. I thought this was a pretty solid appetizer though.

The Pollo Toscano, chicken breast tenderized to a remarkably thin piece of meat (could it be pounded any thinner? I think not) was served with sun dried tomatoes, peas and a cherry wine sauce (not sure exactly what that is). It was passable as far as taste is concerned. I guess it was one breast of chicken, but the portion was pounded so thin, that it's hard to tell. The dish was finished off with three chunks of potatoes which were surprisingly tasty for such a bland starch, and oven roasted "baby carrots" probably purchased as was in a bag, were pretty pathetic looking. Hardly an inspired dish, but it certainly was passable and, in a day and age where we tend to eat too much, this automatically limited my overeating.

Our friends ordered the Chicken Parm with linguine and the Pasta alla vodka sauce. The pasta alla vodka sauce was, apparently, a hit. Mike's Chicken Parm seemed to lack what I like to call "substance". As a favorite dish of mine to both make at home and order out at traditional/Americanized Italian restaurants - this version didn't impress me.

Danna had your basic raviolis with diced tomatoes and a thin sauce. These were pretty good, a bit salty, and certainly not house-made, but were fine. Also passable.

This place makes its money off of a lunch crowd and the dance crowd as well as a wedding or corporate party here and there. So the food is probably always going to be okay, never pushing the boundaries of Italian, or I guess Argentian, cuisine.

The conversation with old friends and entertainment value of the mixed bag of tango novices was the most satisfying parts of the meal. But for the area, a wasteland for dinner dining, it worked.


Post a Comment

<< Home