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This week I feel like Joey Campanaro’s stalker. First I ran into the chef/owner of NYC’s amazing Little Owl at a fundraiser for PS3, the West Village school that happens to be my alma mater. (Campanaro didn’t cook, but he was the only notable West Village chef who didn’t: In the cafeteria-turned-staging-kitchen were Zak Pelaccio of Fatty Crab, Jonathan Waxman of Barbuto, Jason Denton of Corsino, the Dell’Anima team and Mikey Price of Market Table.) So as soon as possible—i.e., Monday, opening night—I trekked to Campanaro’s new spot, Kenmare, on the edge of Little Italy, to see him in action. No surprise, the food is killer, namely pillowy basil gnocchi with a rich short rib ragù and spaghetti fra diavolo with lots of lobster and shrimp. The big-deal dish is the main-course chicken—called The Chicken. Campanaro smokes, then confits the legs so they’re extra-tender, cures the crisp-skinned breast and serves it all in flavorful gravy. The whole menu is new, except, as New York magazine smartly points out, Little Owl's epic meatball sliders. They’re there because Kenmare’s co-owner Paul Sevigny specially requested them. I wonder if he's a Joey Campanaro stalker like me.
Kenmare owners Joey Campanaro, Nur Khan and Paul Sevigny