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5Jan/104

Campanile Restaurant – Mark Peel’s Masterpiece

Campanile is doing something right when they manage to stay in business 20 years in a city that is constantly chasing the biggest hits, fads, and trends.

Campanile

I spent just over eight years living in Massachusetts and when I moved back to Los Angeles, one of my very first meals was brunch at Campanile. Why Campanile? It was and continues to be a classic LA institution. Brunch, lunch, or dinner, you can expect a solid meal. Campanile doesn't chase trends, whether it be pork belly, foam, deconstruction, or [insert cool, but overplayed need to die food trend of 2000s].

Beer Battered Squash Blossoms
Beer battered squash blossoms and arugula

The focus on good cooking, high quality ingredients, and simplicity is what has allowed Campanile to succeed for so long and become an Los Angeles institution. You know what to expect when you eat here. It is comfort food at its highest level and it doesn't stray far outside the lines.

Steamed Clams and Calamari
Steamed clams and calamari with nettles, pancetta, aleppo pepper and chili cream

It's a good thing the La Brea Bakery is their neighbor. That broth is like crack and you'll want a lot of carb rich bread to soak it up.

Grilled Pork Chop
Grilled pork chop with brussels sprouts, cippolini onions and shallot crème fraîche

I have an unnatural fear that pork chops are going to be too dry. I can rest easy knowing that the pork chop at Campanile is anything but dry.

Grilled Prime Rib
Grilled prime rib with flageolets, bitter greens and black olive tapenade

It's always a bad idea to work on these posts at night. Staring at this pic made me really hungry. There was something about the cut of this prime rib that was different from other prime ribs I have had in the past. An end/top piece maybe? If that's the case, now I know why people order the end piece at Lawry's.

Roasted Asparagus
Roasted asparagus with prosciutto and green goddess

The concept of dining "inside" an enclosed courtyard can be lost on those who aren't paying attention. It is an absolutely beautiful space that was originally built in 1929 for Charlie Chaplin. When La Brea Bakery and Camapnile took over the space in 1989, they renovated the entire space and converted the outdoor courtyard into what is the dining room today. If for nothing else, the location is worth a visit.

Mashed Potatoes
Mashed potatoes with shallot and crème fraîche

This stuff didn't come out of a box. A fluffy cloud from heaven is what this mashed potato tastes like.

"Boca Negra" Cake
"Boca Negra" Cake with chocolate ice cream, vanilla crème anglaise, cocoa nibs

Service at Campanile is impeccable. It is what you come to expect from a restaurant of this caliber. The staff is regularly checking to make sure that your coffee is topped off, your water glass refilled, and that you are having an enjoyable dining experience. Whether you're a first timer or a regular, you always feel at home when you step in. There are but a handful of restaurants that excel in food, service, and setting, and Campanile sits near the top. It is not the newest kid on the block and it might not have the flashiest toys, but there is no need for any of those smoke and mirrors.

Good Food + Good Service + No Gimmicks = Staying Power

All that is left for us to ponder now is if Mark Peel's new establishment, The Tar Pit Bar, will have the same staying power as its older sibling Campanile Restaurant.


Campanile Restaurant

624 S. La Brea
Los Angeles, CA 90036
323 938-1447

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  1. Excellent write-up and pics! I haven’t tried this place yet but it’s definitely on my list. Pork chop and prime rib look delicious, and I love the plating of the asparagus. That chocolate cake looks divine and with that chocolate ice cream it must have been a mouthful of flavors and textures.

  2. Daniel – Thanks! This is definitely worth a visit, especially for brunch and their specialty nights: Grilled Cheese Night, Family Dinners, etc. It’s easy to forget some of the older institutions when there are so many new restaurants appearing all over the city.

  3. damn, those clams look good! i want!

  4. Amy – that broth alone is worth going back for!


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