Jonathan Gold Eulogizes Campanile

Campanile Photo: Campanile

Toll the iron bells, as our ace critic writes his inevitable lament over Campanile’s coming demise. He was hoping to introduce the La Brea legend to his grandchildren and though he credits Bill Chait as the owner of “some fine restaurants” and Walter Manzke as “one of the finest chefs L.A. has,” he’s feeling a little tore up to see the standard-setter go. “A lot of great restaurants have opened since Campanile came online in 1989, but nothing since has been quite the same,” he notes, remembering his three-times-a-week visits back before The Pulitzer and the day he was married in its back room, feasting “on suckling pigs” and a chocolate wedding cake “stuffed with Armagnac-soaked prunes.”

Gold recounts the many contributions the restaurant made to American cooking, including its solidification of wood-burning cooking, its remastering of simple dishes using prime ingredients, and doing whatever possible from scratch. Of course, it’s nowhere near the end for L.A. hero Mark Peel, and referring to him as “the most exacting grill chef in the country” who “plays his smoldering logs the way that Pinchas Zukerman does a Stradivarius,” Gold writes, ‘I can hardly wait to see what Peel is planning to do next.” [LAT]