Hoboken is the kind of town where you find that little corner Italian place. You know: been there forever, everything made from scratch, portions so big you always leave stuffed. Cincinnati is not that kind of town, but we do have that little corner Italian place—Campanello’s, where they still take the time to bake the bread and make the sausage every day. When you get the manicotti or the lasagna, that pasta was rolled out by Bruce Campanello himself on a hand-cranked pasta machine—which he modified with an electric drill. (Just ask. He’ll show you.) And just like a Sopranos rerun there’s red checkered tablecloths, vintage wood paneling, and a very dated bar populated with a few laughing regulars. The sign says it all. Not the one out front that touts “Three Blocks from the Beach” but the one by the kitchen door: “Under OLD Management.” I recommend the manicotti and a glass of Danny’s Special Blend Red for lunch—it’s a great bargain. At night the prices get a little more touristy but the dishes—veal parmesan, beef braciole, chicken cacciatore—are more top shelf. After you surrender to that last bite you’ll understand why Italians make so many hand gestures of approval.
Campanello’s, 414 Central Ave., downtown, (513) 721-9833
Originally published in the December 2013 issue.