Campo di Fiori, Marco and Laura Roccasalvo’s authentic Italian restaurant, has been open for ten years. They started small, in a little restaurant with about ten tables and a mission to stick to their guns and only serve authentic Italian food, using proper ingredients and recipes. Now they are on the seafront, in large modern premises, with big picture windows looking out to the Irish Sea. Seems to me they saw the big picture ten years ago, and this spanking new restaurant is the pay-off.
You can’t miss the new Campo, it’s facing the sealife building on the seafront in Bray, close to the mid point of the stretch. The restaurant is on a corner, while next door they have a wine bar, and around the corner there is an Italian deli and food store. This corner of Bray is as Italian as Trappatoni, and just as welcome.
Outside the restaurant is a striking blue, and inside it is light and airy, with huge windows looking out to sea, some feature artworks on the walls and lots of shiny wood. Feature wallpaper of sepia coloured Italian newsprint decorate columns and the tables are well spaced and comfortable.
On a Thursday in February there is a good crowd in, a mixture of families and couples, with the odd rock star thrown in for good measure. The menu makes no allowances for people who like cream in their Carbonara, chicken tikka on their pizza, or Thai flavoured pasta sauces. What it does do is offer a range of authentic Italian dishes at reasonable prices.
The layout is typical; antipasti, pasta and risotto, Secondi (Mains) and Dolci. Expect to see cured meats, delicious pasta and risottos, meats and fish cooked to Itlain recipes, and of course Panna cotta and Tiramisu.
Seated with some cook homemade bread, and awesome olive oil, we sip sparkling water and decide the blonde’s not having a starter, but leaving room for a panna cotta that was just served to the rock star. Fair enough. I start with homemade spaghetti with lobster and prawn served with tomato sauce and it’s delicious; pasta perfectly cooked, the sauce screams of the sea, and the soft sweet meat stands out. For main courses, she enjoys a special of homemade tortellini filled with goats cheese and ricotto, topped with flash fried pancetta strips and served in an asparagus pesto. The plate is almost licked clean. My main course of Tagliata di Manzo Irlandese ( Tagliato is a popular Italian dish is sliced beef served in a sauce) is served with a sauce of Porcini mushrooms and saffron roasted potatoes, to which I add a side or parmesan flavoured spinach. The sauce is packed full of flavour, the potatoes are dainty and perfectly roasted and the green spinach adds substance without stodge. Well balanced and hearty.
The panna cotta is vanilla served with toffee sauce and I finish with a trio of desserts which defeat me, and we have two good coffees. Campo de Fiori has gone from strength to strength on the not so simple premise of serving authentic Italian food with uncompromising integrity.
C de F would be a great place after an Italian/Irish rugby match, to eat and gloat... after an Italian/Irish soccer match, maybe not so much gloating, but you can still remind yourself of all that’s good about Italy, ever if their football team are just annoying, your girlfriend still fancies Totti, and the Ferrari you promised yourself hasn’t arrived. Who knew Bray had La Dolce Vita?