For my birthday dinner this year, we went to the brand-spanking-new Ecco in the CAMP. This one was under construction for a while, and we’ve read on Chowhound and OC Weekly that the pizza here is formidable. Delicious fancy pizza? MY FAVORITE!
Hip CAMP-y exterior? Check. Warm, cozy interior (but a bit sound-bouncing)? Check. There was a charity event going on that night, so the clientele was mostly older, rich-er (looking) Newport Beach people. The energy of the place is very vibrant, maybe a bit noisy at times.
Full bar? DOUBLE Check.
They didn’t have a set cocktail menu yet (just a few beers/wines of the day), so I asked the bartender for her signature drink. Here’s a blood orange martini (10) which is made of who-knows-what. It took us a while to get seated (even with a reservation) because people were lingering in post-meal bliss, so we hung out at the bar and people watched.
When we finally got seated, we muddled over the wine list for a bit. The server asked if we wanted to taste beforehand (of course!) so after three tastes, we setteled on a bottle of 2008 Beni Di Batasiolo GAVI (34). Very fruity with strong pear notes; you can pound this easily (and regret it later).
Somehow there was a runner mix-up and we received our pizza before the appetizer. But that’s okay because THIS PIZZA EFFING ROCKS. We had a very simple Pizza Margherita (12) with crushed San Marzano tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, basil and olive oil. The crust is a super crispy and paper thin, but with enough chew – it’s THE pizza for thin crust lovers. The pizza sauce is very light and makes the simple ingredients shine.
The salumi plate (12) came shortly after we polished our pizza off. Prosciutto di parma (16 month), fennel salame, bresaola, olives, and whole grain mustard. I enjoyed the fennel salame because it had a almost-bloody flavor to it. Everything else seemed standard.
Don had a hard time choosing his main course because everything looked enticing (lemon caper salmon? sausage oricchiette? omg), but eventually he chose the pappardelle Bolognese (14). The meat sauce was very herby (fennel seeds, maybe?) and with the pecorino romano, it was very rich and belly-filling. The pasta was cooked perfectly to an al-dente.
I had the Natural Half Chicken (18). The the skin was deliciously crispy and smoky, but the flesh was tender, although a bit light on salt. The cannellini beans and cavolo nero soaked up the savory chicken jus and was… Just… Wow. Rustic flavor explosion in your mouth! I couldn’t finish it all, and the leftovers were perfect for lunch the next day.
Dessert! Don had the Tiramisu (7) with espresso creme anglaise and shaved chocolate, which I didn’t touch. He seemed to have enjoyed it a lot.
I had the Wood Fired White Peaches (7) with reduced blueberry sauce, vanilla gelato, and Amaretti cookies. To. Die. For. Light and creamy and perfectly summer-y, all at the same time. Mmmm.
We will be back some time soon, even if only for the paper thin pizza. Speaking of which, you should totally visit them during OC Restaurant week and try it out!
Now if they could only do something about the parking situation…
2937 Bristol St., Ste. A103