Camillo’s Cafe, Princeton, NJ

Camillo’s is a local Italian restaurant that’s different from your standard New Jersey pizza and pasta joint. It’s actually an Italian restaurant.

I’ve tired of typical Italian restaurants in New Jersey and have been looking for a restaurant that reminded of a local trattoria in Europe. I used to live in England and I loved going to my local trattoria, where the food was usually good, good atmosphere and it was just great to have a causal dinner in a cozy place. Don’t get me wrong, I love good pizza but the problem I have with most New Jersey Italian places is that the pasta typically has a bland red sauce, too much cheese and huge portions which substitute for quality.

Camillo’s is different. While the menu is actually smaller than most places, it actually has more breadth than your typical place. Camillo, the chef owner is Italian, and learned his trade in Italy before moving to Scotland where he ran an Italian restaurant before moving into the Princeton area. For the most part, this is an authentic Italian restaurant, however with a nod to American Italian cuisine, the menu does have chicken parm and a few other things. Economics may have won out in that case.

The food itself is good. Ingredients are fresh and flavorful. You can actually taste the freshness of the ingredients. I had the tuna tartare which was good, just a little under-seasoned and papardelle with sausage ragout. The sausage was excellent, though pasta was a little overcooked. My wife had the lasagna which was good. Overall, I would say that the the food is decent, good infact, just not great.

They do carry local NJ wine only (I can’t imagine drinking Jersey wine), so I would consider this a BYO and would bring my own wine next time.

Service is attentive and the chef actually comes out and talks to the guests. A nice touch.

Overall, a decent restaurant where you will get a good meal though not the kind of place that I would crave to go back to.

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