Featured in Maria Isabella's Cookbook which features 35 of Cleveland's top chefs
Eggplant Pecorino Inspired by La Campagna (Westlake, OH)
Italian food, no matter how you slice it, is pretty much foolproof. However, when it comes to making a classic like eggplant parmesan at home it can easily turn into a mess of an off sauce to cheese ratio rendering the breaded eggplant soggy and struggling. After a visit to Westlake, Ohio, we were impressed with a technique served up at the small Italian restaurant La Campagna.They’re restrained in their usage of cheese and sauce, letting the eggplant shine in all its crisp glory. Our version replicates this ideology by omitting the breadcrumbs altogether and frying thin slices of eggplant dipped only in egg and flour. The flavor of our sauce is layered with the help of anchovies, onion, red pepper flakes, and oregano to complement the satisfying bite of the thin, crispy eggplant.[GET RECIPE]
La Campagna Shares a Special Dish from Puglia, Italy, with Us
LA CAMPAGNA HAS NO sign, so it's easy to miss the restaurant if you're not looking for it in the progression of storefronts in the strip mall. Carmella Fragassi tells me that her sign was 3 inches too big for the town's building code, and rather than redo it, she decided to do without. “If you want to find me, you'll find me,” she says.
After 21 years as a narcotics agent, Carmella turned to the restaurant business. Her first restaurant caught fire two years after opening. It was a big, demanding operation, and after it burned down she decided that the next venture would be smaller.
Forged in fire
In the age of #MeToo, it's no surprise that professional women chefs are among those claiming harassment — except it's anything but a modern complaint.
Generations of female culinary workers have quietly, or loudly, voiced concerns about the limitations placed on their rise to higher pay and positions of leadership, and a seemingly endless array of personal abuse.
I've been hearing the claims since my earliest days in restaurant kitchens and later as a reporter. Usually the stories were of verbal put-downs, man-to-woman: "You've got no place here. You can't handle the workload. What do you think you know?"
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La Campagna has been serving up delicious Italian dishes to westsiders for more than 25 years. This intimate eatery transports diners right to the Mediterranean. There are no printed menus -- everything's made to order and based on what’s fresh and available daily.
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It’s hard to recommend just one dish on this ever-changing menu of Italian cuisine because the menu changes so often on the whim of chef/owner Carmella Fragassi and what she finds fresh at the market. Seasonal and local is the theme here at this authentic Westlake restaurant that is so authentic, you might think you’re in Italy if you didn’t know any better.