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Thread: Great Casual DC Dining Option (Campono)

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    Great Casual DC Dining Option (Campono)

    Another place for DC-area forum members to consider (or those visiting from out of town); this one is on the very casual side. It is Campono (www.camponodc.com), located at the southern-most Watergate building (600 New Hampshire Ave, NW).

    They make pizzas, hot sandwiches (have not tried), salads and gelati/ sorbetti. I first stopped in a couple weeks ago to try a gelato, and wound up getting a pizza bianca to take home. All were very good. We returned for gelato on Motherís Day and went tonight for pizzas, salads and, well, more gelato. The pizzas we tried tonight were very good,and my wife said the beet/ goat cheese salad she had held itís own against tkernís at Art & Soul (sorry, Travis! She really loved the one you made as well).

    Campono is owned by Bob Kinkead, and he was there tonight carrying pizzas to tables. And while it is casual place, there is a real chef there -- Jeff Gaetjen (http://camponodc.com/jeffrey-jg-gaetjen). Jeff spent a couple weeks developing the pizza dough, and the result is a crust with a very nice elasticity/ chew. They char the crust a little just like in Napoli. Jeff also makes almost all of the pastries they sell alongside the gelati. He trained in France many years back (did I mention we went to high school together?), so he knows his pastry dough.

    The format is basically walk up and order, and they will bring the food to your table when it is ready. There are a dozen or so tables outside, so good chance you can enjoy the outdoors when you visit, and afterwards itís nice to walk across the street and up onto the Kennedy Center terrace to view the river. Heck, it also a great place to eat before/ after a KC show.

    They open early for breakfast, as a lot of their business comes from the condominium residents and people who work in the office portions of the buildings. So they close pretty early in the evening (9 pm orso). It was crowded tonight at around 6:15 pm, but by 7:30 only about ľ of the indoor and outdoor tables were still occupied.

    This is yet another story of a restaurant really seeking out top-quality ingredients. They have some very small semi-local farms/ vendors where they source some of their best stuff. The freshness of the salad ingredients and some of the pizza toppings was very apparent tonight (e.g., the arugula tasted like it was harvested right out back when we placed our orders). Really good cheeses, blah, blah, blah. Why bother raving about it? Well, because it is very inexpensive. The pizzas are $13-$14, and a salad is $8-$9. Gelati/ sorbetti is priced the same as Pitango, etc., but it really tastes quite a bit better. Itís not quite at the level of Capogiro in Philly, but then again no one else in the country is, either.

    We had a really delightful meal there tonight, punctuated by visits from both Chef Gaetjen and Mr. Kinkead, and our 15-month-old gave all the gelati/ sorbetti flavors a big thumbs up.

    Campono is keeping Jeff busy while the adjacent Italian restaurant Ancora is undergoing renovation. In about 6 months Jeff will be moving back to Ancora to resume his normal duties. So definitely try to visit while he is still working there. And donít be shy -- if you visit, ask if Chef Gaetjen is available, and if you get to talk to him just mention you are another crazy kitchen knife nut like the guy he went to high school with.
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    David (WildBoar's Kitchen)

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    Thanks for the write-up! Maybe I can swing by for lunch if they are open tomorrow.

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    Bill, did you make it there yet? We've been by a handful of times now; it's nice to grab a table outside and enjoy a good pizza. Jeff is making some really good gelati and sorbetti with local fruits now that peaches, etc. are coming into season around here. We had some killer raspberry and blackberry sorbetti last weekend.
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    I'll have the swing by sometime soon. It's certainly gelati weather.

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    Quote Originally Posted by WildBoar View Post
    Bill, did you make it there yet? We've been by a handful of times now; it's nice to grab a table outside and enjoy a good pizza. Jeff is making some really good gelati and sorbetti with local fruits now that peaches, etc. are coming into season around here. We had some killer raspberry and blackberry sorbetti last weekend.
    No, and my lovely wife has been feeling neglected with my work schedule. I will mention it for tonight - it should be a perfect night for it weather wise!

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    The family made it to Campono this week and I will second David's strong recommendation. The pizza and the weather was great. Next time I go to the Kennedy center (which is not often too busy spending money on kitchen gear) this is where I will eat.

    We skipped dessert as we were planning to watch Dial M for Murder and did not want to be up too late.

  7. #7
    Great looking pizza. Great looking Gelati...we use some lame stuff at my work. I hate it, nobody orders it and it's hard as a rock. When I am tasked to scoop it, I curse it...for some reason the Spumoni is like granite.

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    Bill, I overlooked your post and just saw it now. Which is timely, as I took a friend to lunch there yesterday afternoon. He's a 'real' Italian (spends a month + up in the mountains north of Venice, where his family is from). He was impressed with the crust and char, and quality of ingredients. He put it at the top of the list for neopolitan pizzas in the DC area -- and he has spent a lot of time over the last few years vetting all the 'authentic' pizza places. Glad you and your family enjoyed it over there.

    They had some really nice gelati there yesterday. Nothing used premade gels this time, as there are plenty of different fresh fruits available right now. I had sugar plum and black fig. My friend had cherry and blueberry. I did have a beef though -- the case was too cold so the texture was off. But the flavors were excellent.
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    David (WildBoar's Kitchen)

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