Monday, October 22, 2007

La Campagna Winery and Olive Grove

La Campagna is at 176 Rogers Road, Cape Schanck, Mornington Peninsula, 3939.
Ph: 5988 5350.
Up a long and winding dirt road, far from the madding crowds of Portsea and Sorrento, you'll find this little gem tucked away. The owner Ted Ori has been cooking with wood-fired ovens since he was a child, and is a master of this artisanal sic form of cooking. The restaurant is open 10-5 weekends, but Ted doesn't serve anything but cake and coffee much before 12ish. He does, however, sell his crusty, chewy hand made loaves of bread.
The L'Osteria is located underneath the family residence, which is a little disconcerting, but the views over Port Phillip and Westernport make up for the odd sensation of walking into someone's garage.

Rustic charm but this wasn't it either!

The restaurant is small, only 25 or so seats, and the grey clinker brick walls add to the "eating in the garage" feeling. Some attempt has been made to cover the walls with pictures of food, and Italian scenes, but you've followed a hand-painted sign up a dirt road.
You shouldn't be expecting The Grand Dining Room ambiance after all!!
We chose the tasting platter, which came with a selection of his own black and green olives, some house olive oil, foccacia for dipping, some mini wood-fired oven pizza topped with passata, artichoke heats and mozarella. These were so-so, but that's subjective, as I personally like my pizza bases thin and crisp. There was just a little too much sog in them for me.The absolute highlight of the platter (if not the whole meal) was the bruschetta alla funghi. It was simply, heavenly.
Mushrooms, sauteed in butter, with a hint of dill, sage, Italian parsley, black pepper, drizzled with chilli-infused olive oil. What lifted this dish to the sublime was Ted's bread, which he had drizzled with olive oil and returned back to the wood oven to crisp up before serving. We paired this with a glass of their 2005 Vino Bianco (semillion/ vermentino blend),We then shared a roast lamb stuffed with fetta and spinach.
The lamb was fall-off-the-bone tender, rich and juicy... but at the end of the day, it was no more than a really nice roast lamb. Served with oven-roasted vegies and paired with a glass of their 2004 Tuscan red (sangiovese/merlot/trebiano blend)We finished with a slice of flourless almond Tuscan Lemon Cake, which was good, but not much was going to WOW us after those mushrooms.
Presentation was so-so, duchess-style potatoes, green beans, but again I mention... you've driven up a dirt road, past a hand-painted sign to eat Tuscan food, cooked in a wood oven. If you're looking for El Buli, this aint it.. but it never professes to be. The staff know their stuff. They were all very in-the-know about the wine list and were well acquainted with all the dishes on the menu. (and accommodating of any changes that patrons were asking for) All in all, one tasting platter, one main, one dessert, four glasses of wine, a loaf of bread to go and a punnet of olives came to $89. It's peasant, it's rustic. The olive oil is sublime, the smell as you drive up the pathway is enticing. The bruschetta is AMAZING.The bread is SENSATIONAL. Wine is available by the glass, the staff are helpful.The menu is limited (3 entrees, 3 mains, 3 desserts) but changes weekly, I was told. Vegetarian options were available.
Contributed by A Goddess in the Kitchen


Anonymous said...

Drove 5 km down a goat track to this unbelievably noisy little restaurant with offhand service and very ordinary food at inflated prices. Forget it.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I enjoyed reading your review and looking at the photos, as I am going there for an interview tomorrow and wanted to suss it out! Cheers.

Elliot & Sandra said...

Good luck for your interview.
As it happens, although I posted that review, it was provided by one of our readers, including the photo's!

Anonymous said...

Just visited this establishment - January 2012 - it would appear that the menu has not changed since the review of 2007!!!!
Were told what time to arrive and then advised that there were no meat dishes available as they had all sold out, waitress than offered chicken as an alternative. Beautiful views but an uninspired menu. More interesting and varied menus can be found in most Italian homes for the Sunday family get-together. Most disappointing.

Elliot and Sandra said...

That's a rather sad indictment and suggests that the romantic rustic and rural nostalgia elements don't make up for the other deficiencies. Think I'll give it a miss until I hear something much more positive.

Anonymous said...

July 2012
Yes, it's noisy... But the food and the view... Amazing! The pork belly was great, the tasting plates a great way to start and the wine very acceptable and does not blow the budget! My wife loved the lasagne and the deserts were equally fantastic... Given the opportunity please try the bread n butter pudding! We will be back!

Anonymous said...

hubby and i were on weekend with no kids so thought we would go there for wine tasting/buying to be told by rude man, were too busy for that! come back in 2 hours!we felt he diddnt want our dirty aussie money as place was packed with italians :(

Elliot and Sandra said...

That review was sent to me by another foodie but I have never been there.

Unknown said...

Really nice post shared. I get so many nice and informative information for Bangkok hotels.Thanks for sharing such a nice post.

City Hotel Bangkok | Wedding Hotel in Bangkok