Saturday, July 25, 2015

Campono Food Review

The Watergate complex has lost some (a lot?) of its luster of late, but appears back on track with the addition of Campono, Bob Kinkead's casual pizzeria which opened in late March of last year. At the time, it was supposed to fill-in for, then compliment Kinkead's other (more upscale) eatery Ancora; but fast forward almost a year and a half, and Ancora is still closed. It may not have as many options as its older sibling; but if their pizza is any indication, there's lots to like about the "new kid in town."

After all, not everyone can afford to eat at the Kennedy Center's Roof Terrace Restaurant; and dining at the KC CafĂ© can be a "crowded" affair. Campono is an affordable alternative with authentic Italian pizza (cooked in a 800° wood-fired oven) and a 40-seat outdoor patio overlooking the Potomac.

My first visit didn't come without a few hitches however. For starters, you have walk to the other end of the restaurant to order... against the grain, if you will. I stood in front of several line cooks for a few minutes, before asking where to go. You'd think by now, they could do better than just look at you. Why else would I be standing there? The order taker wasn't very friendly either, and it's easy to forget what's on the menu. Lucky for me, I kept it simple... Create Your Own Pie with tomato sauce, fresh mozzarella and House Made Sausage for $14. That's $3 more than advertised on their website "Choose a Sauce, Cheese, and One Non-Premium Topping for $11" but fairly priced just the same. Perhaps they'll update the website after posting an "ORDER HERE" sign in the back.

Campono also provides complimentary cups of water, which saves a couple of bucks (thank you!) I took mine out to the patio, and waited about 10-15 minutes for my pizza to be delivered to my table. It's gorgeous to look at (and smell.) The first thing you notice is the char on the crust, lots and lots of it (that oven clearly hits 800°.) Said crust is crispy and thin, yet folds easily. It's also really big (at least 12") and generously topped with gooey cheese, rich orange/red tomato sauce and lots of sausage crumbs. The cheese is Heavenly, as is the sauce; and the sausage has a very distinctive, almost spicy taste. I'm not fond of crumbles as a rule (they don't look as nice, and the taste isn't as satisfying as a fuller slice) but it's hard to complain about the combination of flavors. Eating on the patio is euphoric; and I'd gladly sit there every other night if I lived in the complex.

They offer half a dozen cold sandwiches, and half a dozen hot, in addition to seven salads and a few pastries. Toss in a dreamy selection of gelatos; and Campono would make a perfect compliment to Ancora. If Ancora doesn't reopen, I'd love to see a few more options to appease a wider audience. As is, I'm rather impressed with what the great Mr. Kinkead has to offer. Almost three years later, and Foggy Bottom still isn't the same after the closing of Kinkead's.

Atmosphere: B+ (Beautiful patio and interior. Only negative: Where to order.)
Crust: B+ (Unbelievable char)
Toppings: B (Great cheese and sauce. Passable sausage.)
Value: B (Expensive real estate, so $14 for a one-topping pie is acceptable.)
Service: D (Needs improvement.)
Overall: B (Fix the service, and it's hard to ask for more.)