“Have you been here before?” the server asks. We nod. “So you know everything is grilled, blackened or charred?” he confirms. Right on, we reply. There’s lots of smoke — but no mirrors — at Del Campo, chef Victor Albisu’s delicious salvo to his Cuban dad and Peruvian mom. Meat, then, dominates the menu of a restaurant that’s dressed to impress with wooden shutters and white-washed floors. Go for lamb stuffed in flaky braided empanadas, chicharones punched up with chilies and spicy peanuts in a riff on pad Thai, and dry-aged rib-eye. Sprinkled with sea salt, the meat is ferried to the table on a plank with a bulb of roasted garlic, silken peppers and bone marrow. Those who have a beef with meat can console themselves with fluffy fried yuca offered with garlic mayonnaise and the Italian-inspired pasqualina tart. Swollen with spinach, Swiss chard and bechamel and topped with a fried egg and grated Parmesan, the potpie ranks as one of Del Campo’s richest attractions. Yellowtail seviche is too busy for my taste, and grilled prawns are most intriguing for the spaetzle that turns black not from heat but from squid ink, the modern chef’s pet color. (Love the hit of lemon in the dumplings, by the way.) New to the list: Negronis smoked tableside and fugazzeta, a sauceless, thick-cushioned, onion-and-cheese pizza — pizza rethought by Argentina. Nothing escapes a brush with fire. Sí, those are grill marks on the carrot cake.
June 2013 review
Smoke, fire and flavor
Meat is the star of the menu at Del Campo in Chinatown.
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