Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Tigelleria Organic Restaurant – Campbell, CA

A Tigelle (above) is a small round flat bread that is, at it’s core, a vehicle for transporting antipasti from the platter to the mouth. Tigelle are common meal accompaniment in Mantua, the home of Tigelleria owners Mirco Caramoni and Elisabetta Benetollo. For geographic reference, Mantua is the Lombardy region on the Northern plain, about 70km North of Modena. The “bread basket” of Italy.

The space has a charming if eclectic décor highlighted by a striking Murano-esque glass chandelier and a reproduction of a 16th century fresco on the ceiling. Bare wood tables seat 40 patrons in the lively dinning space and the walls are adorned primarily with wine…not a bad thing at all. In a bit of a quirky move there is a projector that splashes Italian films, subtitles and all on the wall behind the well stocked bar. Cute if potentially a bit distracting.

It is a pretty compact space though and with many hard, flat surfaces and a full, lively dinning room it can get a bit loud but not troublingly so. Go in expecting a buoyant, convivial meal rather than quiet and intimate.

Kathy and I visited Tigelleria a few months ago with a large group of friends and enjoyed it enough for a return visit for just the two of us. Tigelleria presents it’s menu in the same way as one would expect at an Osteria in Italy with distinct divisions between antipasti, insalate, primi & secondi though the portions are a bit on the large side to enjoy one of each at a sitting. One of the most compelling parts of their menu is on the back. A broad selection of charcuterie and cheeses that are presented to the table on massive cutting boards.

Our meal began here with the “Stella Alpine” selection which included Salamino Cacciatore, Bresaola, Speck as the meat selections and Fontina, Bitto and an aged Monte Veronese for the cheeses. The Bresaola was spectacular. It had an amazing fragrance of Rosemary and Juniper which complimented the rich beef flavor and buttery texture. The Bitto cheese was similar in texture to a Parmigiano Reggiano but with a stronger flavor and more pungent aroma and was equally spectacular.

Kathy’s meal continued with the Gazpacho which was very hearty and it’s bright acidity worked well after the rich, fatty meats & cheeses.

She completed her meal with Tigelleria’s somewhat unique spin on a Carbonara. The dish was quite different from the traditional “Ala-Romana” preparation. They used Pancetta rather than Guanciale and the meat, though cooked, was not rendered crisp as one would expect. The dressing of the pasta was much lighter, using far less egg yolk than most Roman Carbonara. I’m merely pointing out difference here, as it was a really great dish and I had a bowl of it as well for my “primi” I enjoyed it very much. 

I completed my meal with an Anatra alla Cacciatora (Duck Cacciatore), served with a ginger infused potato puree. The flavors in the dish were spectacular though the duck breast was a bit on the toothsome side. I’d have preferred it to be a bit more tender. 

Tigelleria’s wine selections are fantastic and their wait-staff is well versed in not only what is available (I hate ordering a wine only to hear, “sorry we’re out of that”) but what will work best with your meal. I found the service prompt without being the least bit overbearing. They clearly “get it” when it comes to presenting a meal at the appropriate pace that one would expect at a similarly styled eatery in Italy. The experience felt very familiar in that regard and I never once felt rushed to move to the next course or to vacate our table.

We’ve now had two very pleasant experiences at Tigelleria in Campbell. We will certainly be back and I recommend you give it a try as well.

Tigelleria Organic Restaurant

76 East Campbell Ave.
Campbell, CA 95008
(408) 884-3808

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