Tuesday, January 12, 2016
Il Casale Cucina Campana + Bar: Wines of Campania
In Lexington center, you'll find il Casale Cucina Campana + Bar, the third restaurant from the de Magistris family, including Chef Dante de Magistris and his brothers Damian and Filippo. Their family is from the town of Candida in the Irpinia region of Campania, which is located in southern Italy. You might be more familiar with its capital, Naples. The restaurant reflects the cuisine of that region, including a number of old family recipes.
As it states on their website, "Nestled in the lush hills and valleys of the mountainous region of Irpinia lies their hometown village, Candida, where recipes survive only by word of mouth or at best are scratched on distressed pieces of paper hidden between the pages of a bible or an old phone book."
The Menu presents Sfizi, small plates ($5-$11), Antipasti ($9-$16), Primi, pasta dishes (small $11-$14, large $22-$28), Pasta al Forno, baked pasta ($$14-$28), and Secondi ($21-$36). It is moderately priced, offering high quality dishes in a casual and fun atmosphere. The restaurant is very open and airy, with an open kitchen and views of Lexington center. Their wine list includes some Italian wines which the de Magistris have specially imported and are not available anywhere else in the U.S.
I was invited to il Casale to experience a media dinner which showcased the wines of the Campania region. As I had just been to another Campania wine tasting the week before, I was intrigued to see how the il Casale wines would compare to those I previously tasted. Campania has a rich vinous history, extending back about three thousand years, and at least a few of their indigenous grapes extend back to the ancient Greeks. However, many wine lovers still are not familiar with the wines of Campania and that needs to change.
In addition, you should check out il Casala in Lexington for some delicious food which will transport you to southern Italy for an evening.
What an abundance of delicious flavors and textures and you could happily enjoy just some antipasti and wine rather than order an entree. I thoroughly enjoyed all of these items, though the Burrata and Speck were my two favorite bites. Everything seemed fresh, was cooked just right and each bite was nicely balanced. An excellent start to the evening.
And seek out the wines of Campania, both their whites and reds.