Authentic Italian food thrills and charms

June 15, 2011 Heather Chin
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Oh my god, this is phenomenal, stated my dining companionbetween fits of delightfully stunned laughter. This is the bestcheesecake I’ve ever had. And I’ve had a lot of cheesecake.

This is the kind of compliment that a chef would kill for, butthe only thing that the chefs, native Sicilians FrancescoMartinelli and Francesco Gurdascione, are killing is thecompetition. From their amazing desserts and gorgeous seafood andmeat entrees to the antipasti, salads, calzones and pizzas, thechefs at Casa di Campagna are dedicated to making every dish on themenu authentic and delicious, using only fresh, Italianingredients.

The root of Casa di Campagna’s culinary magic is passion andfamily. Everyone has an Italian restaurant, but it’s not true,said Martinelli, a Sicilian. My food is literally Italian fromback in the day, taken here to America.

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My food is literally Italian from back in the day, taken hereto America.

The friendly staff sat us at one of the handcrafted wood tablesand, after a mere 15 minutes of spreading thick slices of breadwith a creamy Italian tomato paste that resembled tapenade, beganbringing out plates of beautifully arranged – and large portioned -dishes.

The baked clams (six for $9.95) were succulent and well-breaded,while our Sofia salad ($8.95) surprised us by letting the uniqueblend of vegetables – julienned fennel, celery root and parsleywith red onion and pepperoncini – speak for itself, dressed only ina tangy lemon dressing.

Martinelli’s skills also extend to meat, with the antipasti ofround Sicilian sausage ($9.95) arriving perfectly cooked andcoiled, atop tomatoes, cannellini beans and arugula.

The entrée of pork chops Italian style ($17.95) was also awinner, with the larger-than-your-hand pan-fried pork chop tenderto the fork. The tang of arugula mixed with a dash of hotpeppercorn beneath it, coupled with raw chunks of tomato, made fora remarkably balanced dish.

But what is an Italian menu without pizza? I’m the pizza man,said Gurdscione, before regaling us with one of his specialties,the traditional margherita pizza ($16.95), a thin crust pie coveredwith basil, fresh mozzarella and a little tomato sauce. Crispy,fresh, and perfect did not even begin to describe thisbeauty.

Another vegetarian-friendly option, the porcini risotto($14.95), also stood out with its strips of porcini mushrooms andarborio rice soaking up the truffle oil and parmigiano cheese.

We thought we couldn’t eat anymore, but then came dessert:Homemade tiramisu logs so light that eating them was like inhalingair. We couldn’t get enough of it or the last-meal-worthy Italiancheesecake.

The cozy, stone-covered restaurant with a large backyard gardencelebrated its grand opening last Friday with the air of havingbeen in the neighborhood for generations and, in a way, theyhave.

Brothers Anthony and Evan Matrone opened the restaurant as theculmination of a dream to build a home away from home. The two hailfrom a small island off of Capri and designed their restaurant toreflect the country kitchen aesthetic of their memories.

It is our good fortune that with Casa di Campagna, they havealso created a place that will quickly become Brooklynites’ ownhome away from home.

CASA DI CAMPAGNA

117 Columbia Street

Brooklyn, NY 11231

718-237-4300

[email protected]

Eat-in, Take-out, Kids Menu, and Catering.

Private parties welcome. Garden seating available.

Monday – Thursday: noon to 10 p.m.

Friday – Saturday: noon to 11 p.m.

Sunday: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.


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