Let’s face the facts: it’s slim pickings when it comes to casual dining venues near the Kennedy Center and the adjacent Watergate complex. That is until Campono, Bob Kinkead’s fast-casual pizzeria and sandwich shop, recently opened less than two months ago.
Situated next to the James Beard award-winning chef’s full-service restaurant, Ancora (which is now closed for renovations and aims to reopen in September), Campono’s main attraction is its outstanding wood-fired pizzas. We were recently invited to sample Kinkead’s casual Italian eatery and left very impressed. Campono is serving up some seriously good pizza, and we’re here to get the good word out.
The restaurant is setup like an upscale cafeteria, where diners place their orders and pay at the counter while they wait for their made-to-order food to be served at their table. Salads are served in plastic bowls, beverages in Styrofoam cups, an abundance of plastic utensils… you get the idea. But don’t let the disposable flatware dissuade you from the cooking because Campono is not your typical downtown DC deli.
We started the evening off with their beet and goat cheese salad. Topped with fresh crumbles of goat cheese, the salad was very good, though Campono might want to implement better containers for those that opt to dine-in versus carryout.
The stars of the show, however, were the pizzas. Employing natural yeast biga (starter) and ’00” flour dough, the hand-rolled pies are cooked in a wood-fired oven at 800 degrees. The menu is divided between Rosso (tomato sauce) and Bianca (white pizza), so we tried one of each.
The first pizza we sampled was the L’Aquila. Prepared with housemade Italian sausage, broccoli rabe, mozzarella, and olives, the crust was crisp on the outside and soft in the middle without being overly chewy while the toppings were incredibly fresh and robust. And while it was more expensive than other options (pizzas range from $9 to $15), this is plenty of pizza for two people.
The same could be said for the Primavera. Topped with asparagus, favas, broccoli, leak cream, parsley, scallions, and a mozzarella blend, this is not your classic white pizza. But that’s a good thing as this was a terrific, unique combination of ingredients. Rachel enjoyed this one more while I preferred the former.
Make sure to leave some room for dessert as Campono makes all of its gelato daily in-house. The two scoops of mocha almond and strawberry sorbet made for an excellent duo of flavors and a sweet ending to a great dinner.
While there’s plenty of good pizza to be had in the District, Campono officially has the Foggy Bottom area on lockdown.