Vail’s Campo de Fiori offers true Italian hospitality
Simone Reatti likes his food simple, with a strong flavor. The Campo de Fiori chef hails from Cortina d’Ampezzo in Northern Italy, but now calls Vail home.
“In Italy, we have the mountain, we have the ocean, we have islands, we have 21 different regions and a half million recipes,” he says. “The climate dictates the food. In the mountain we eat (pasta and gnocci), in the south they eat more tomato, eggplant, olives and veggies.”
Reatti tries to give guests the whole picture of Italian cuisine at Campo, but if he gets hungry while he’s working, he says he’s likely to go for a northern meal: the pappardelle with porcini mushrooms and Italian sausage. The pappardelle pasta is made in house from scratch, the mushrooms are from Italy and the sausage is made by Polidori sausage in Denver.
“I’m from the mountains, so I love mushrooms and sausage,” he says. “But I love anything with a strong flavor.”
Among the strongest of flavors you find on Campo’s menu is another one of Reatti’s favorites, the “Prosciutto e Pere” or “Prosciutto e Melone,” which is, simply, a few slices of prosciutto ham and a few pieces of Tuscan melon or D’Anjou pears and gorgonzola sauce. The prosciutto itself is a delicacy, not to mention the flavor explosion that occurs when coupled with the perfectly ripe fruit.
“The prosciutto comes from Italy,” says Reatti. “We have a type we use for cooking, but with this prosciutto it would be a disgrace if I put it in the pan and cooked it.”
Another simple, flavorful delight at Campo is the Antipasto Mediterraneo, which – along with the hand-painted walls adorning the dining room – will make you feel like you’re in Italy.
“It’s salami, Marcona almonds, Parmesan cheese, balsamic onions, olives, artichokes hearts and oven-roasted tomatoes,” says Reatti. “In Italy, if you’re not really hungry, this is something the owner of the bar would bring you with a drink after work, just to mingle a little bit before you go home.”
But in addition to Reatti’s favorites, Campo has a strong following of regular clientele who have helped determine what you can expect to find on the menu.
“We’ve tried to take some items off the menu just to change it a little, but then our regulars will come back and request that item, so we put it back on,” says general manager Mira Hozzova. “One thing that always amazes me how consistent out kitchen keeps these items, they look identical every time they come out.”
Reatti says that’s definitely a deliberate effort from the kitchen.
“In the restaurant, consistent cooking is good cooking,” he says.
But outside of the restaurant, says Reatti, “No matter what, the best cooking is always your mama’s cooking.”