We were recently invited to dine at the legendary DC chef Bob Kinkead's newest DC outpost, Campono. A fast dining option nestled in the back of the Watergate building across from the Kennedy Center, we have to admit we were unsure of what to expect. As former GW students, we'd both known of his Foggy Bottom namesake restaurant, a fine dining restaurant. So, we were interested and intrigued to see what Chef Kinkead would be cooking up in this new Italian restaurant.
A quick glance at the menu shows neopolitan-style pizzas, sandwiches, and salads. Overall, not incredibly unique offerings. But, we were both completely amazed at the quality of the food Kinkead is cooking up. We decided to start with two pizzas and a sandwich to share between us and our friend Abby who joined the party. The first thin crust pizza was a nod to a veggie lovers pie. It was covered in delicious and fresh seasonal vegetables and cooked to perfection. We devoured it quickly.
Next up was the white pizza Tutto Funghi. We really loved the truly unique mushroom-porcini cream sauce on this pie. White pizza can sometimes be bland and dry, but this one left nothing to be desired. Chef Kinkead came over and explained that his infused cream sauces were the pizzas of the future. The mushrooms were fresh and combined perfectly with the cheese and cream sauce.
While we were loving the pizzas above and already feeling quite full, Chef Kinkead spoke to us about the general art of pizza making. He let us know that the brick oven pizza craze is nothing but a fad, and that what really matters when cooking up a good pie is the temperature of the oven. Soon enough, he was walking back to our table with a third pizza, his personal recommendation, the Burrata. All we can say is, wow. The fresh pesto, parmesean cream sauce, and oven dried tomatoes on this dish were nothing short of amazing.
Being a bread lover, I had to sample one of the many subs on the menu. We quickly settled on the meatball parm, and man am I glad we did. First, the bread was perfect--crispy, fluffy, and not too doughy. The meatballs and sauce were in perfect ratio to the cheese and bread. Much like my experience with Mike Isabella's Chicken Parm at G, I have to say this sandwich is high up on my list of meatball subs.
Last, but not least, we got a personal tour of the gelato station with Chef Kinkead. He took the time to explain to us the difference between ice cream (more fat) and gelato (more sugar). In addition to gelato, Campono offers delicious sorbets. The flavors change seasonally in order to make use of the freshest ingredients.
Between the three of us, we probably sampled 10 flavors including chocolate, caramel sea salt, honey yogurt, mocha almond, blood orange, and sour cherry. They were all amazing. Kinkead informed us that to tell if a gelato maker is truly adept at his craft, it is absolutely necessary to try the pistachio. I made that my final choice along with chocolate (I mean, that's a given). Liz and Abby both opted for the sour cherry with strawberry-lime.
Incredibly stuffed and beyond impressed, we ended our night at Campono vowing to return soon. We spoke to Kinkead about his choice of location, especially since the hot spots right now are 14th Street and Shaw. A veteran chef in this area, he did not seem to be the least bit concerned about location popularity deterring diners from making the trip to Foggy Bottom. And I must say, I couldn't agree more. The prices, sizes, and quality of the food will be a draw for DC residents and tourists alike. We know we'll definitely be back for more of that amazing white pizza and gelato throughout the summer.
**While we did receive our meal at Campono for free, the opinions offered in this post are our own.