On our way home from watching the matinee performance of The Commitments on Saturday, my wife and I dined at the new Gino D’Campo restaurant in the centre of Leeds.
It was our inaugural visit to the TV chef’s eatery on Park Row, which brings a soupcon of the Mediterranean to West Yorkshire. A ‘soupcon of the day’ from the menu with it’s origins soaked in Italian culinary history.
In this pleasant dining atmosphere, Karen and I filled our boots with cuisine from the nation shaped like a boot.
We were seated next to young couple with an air of affluence and Chanel. I assumed they were German as they’d reserved their table by draping beach towels over two seats.
Before I proceed any further, I want to assure you that will be my last lazy European stereotype quip within this narrative.
The joint, as our American cousins call it (that might be a stereotype but it’s not a European one!), was packed to the rafters with like minded punters eager to put the Naples born chef’s menu to the test.
There is no mistaking who owns the place as it’s adorned by scores of pictures of D’Campo. Images capturing his existential journey in his homeland and further afield.
For a joke, I’d have loved to have mischievously swapped all the pictures for one’s adorning his fellow chef Rick Stein. Typically, though, I chose a night to dine there when I wasn’t in possession of my 127 framed photos of Rick Stein!
While Karen and I procrastinated over which of the numerous tantalised mid-Mediterranean dishes to choose, I asked her what she fancied.
“Gino D’Campo!” she shallowly responded. Before adding “He looks lovely in that sailors hat in the picture over there!”, pointing at a nearby framed image of the owner.
“You wouldn’t say that if he was ugly!” I countered.
She didn’t respond to my lukewarm putdown; her head remaining bowed as she read the menu.
With a misguided belief I’d usurped her shallowness, I grinned smugly and decided I was going to have the Real Neapolitan pizza……. Karen later chose a pasta dish, before going back to gawping at Gino’s picture in the sailor’s cap.
The pizza I chose had the unusual omission of a tomato sauce base, which the waitress had kindly made me aware of when ordering. Unless your not a fan of tomatoes, it may sound as though this unorthodox take on the recipe would detract from the flavour. However, that was by no means the case.
Obviously, its taste was unlike any pizza I’d had before. However with its mozzarella, Italian sausage, chilli, spinach topping my taste bud horizons had been broadened. Admittedly, not overly adventurous culinary journey into the unknown by yours truly, but one I’m glad I experienced.
Will I be asking Dominos to omit the tomato base on the next Meat Feast pizza I order?
It’s doubtful. Although, with all due respect to the lads and lasses in red t-shirts, there is a marked difference in product quality and dining experience…… Even if the Mrs wouldn’t be gawping at pictures of staff members while ordering at Dominos.
How would my website writesaidfred.org review the Leeds Gino D’Campo restaurant in one sentence. Well it’d probably be something like this:-
“Splendid menu, service, food quality and ambience born of the sunny boot, in the city famed for Norman Hunter’s boot” – ****