Restaurant Debut

The Club Room, Naples

Among all the worthy newcomers on the culinary scene this season, we think Campiello’s new jazz cafe takes the cake.

BY May 1, 2020
The Clubroom, Naples May 2020
(Photo Vanessa Rogers)

After weaving through the buzzing Campiello’s dining room, past the lush courtyard and into the restaurant’s new adjacent space, The Club Room, you enter someplace altogether different. The D’Amico and Partners’ signature sophistication is evident, but this restaurant departs from the group’s other gathering spaces to be sultrier and sleeker. 

Enveloped by the warm light emitting from silk-covered fixtures, rich fabrics and whimsical artwork, The Club Room possesses several pockets: the central lounge with a fireplace, handsome arm chairs and a crystal-covered zebra head by Amy Brazil D’Amico; an intimate stage backed by a string of orb lights; a marble-topped bar with a row of brass and black leather stools; and the dining area with white tablecloth-topped tables and velvet-backed booths.

When I arrive, I’m escorted to the table where my dinner companion is already sipping on a Langhe Nebbiolo and dipping into slices of homemade bread, a suit-clad server introduces himself as Dennis and begins to guide us through the menu with a comforting familiarity.

The menu—made up of about a dozen appetizers, small plates and main entrees—is a departure from the one found at Campiello next door, a local staple within the D’Amico restaurant empire, which also includes The Continental and D’Amico & Sons. Instead, the Italian-inspired dishes are remixes of favorite recipes served at a sister restaurant in Minnesota, co-owner Richard D’Amico later explains when we talk on the phone.

Dennis highlights a few dishes that have been popular since the The Club Room opened in January, like the duck egg ravioli, the pappardelle with braised veal, the black grouper, and the lamb osso buco, served with beluga lentils, speck and apple-fennel slaw. We opt for a crudo flight and the buffalo mozzarella to start.

The crudo is delivered with paper-thin slices of hamachi, tuna, scallop and lobster, each with its own accoutrements to enhance the fish’s fresh flavors. Rather than fresh tomatoes, the buffalo mozzarella is served with blistered tomatoes for a heartier taste than a traditional caprese. For the entrees, I choose the ricotta gnudi—made with ricotta, instead of potatoes—with lobster. My friend was torn between the snapper piccata and the homemade bucatini cacio e pepe, but Dennis made the choice simple: the bucatini could be ordered as a side dish, he proposed, putting an end to the debate.

It could take half the night to wade through The Club Room’s extensive list of wines, most of which comes from Italy and the U.S., including an impressive reserve list with bottles ranging from $300 to $1,500. Cocktails—like the Grove & Garden Mule Cocktail Per Due—are tempting, too. But once again, Dennis’ expertise allows us to keep the effort and guesswork to a minimum. We settle on a Tuscan 2018 sangiovese governo for her and a 2017 Laguna Ranch Vineyard chardonnay, for me. My friend points to a Gargiulo Vineyards cabernet sauvignon on the list, and notes that the winery owners are sitting right across the dining room. Like many Naples Winter Wine Festival trustees and other in-the-know Neapolitans, the Gargiulos are regulars at the next-door Campiello.

Dish from The Clubroom
Lamb osso buco entree. (Photo Vanessa Rogers)

Inspired by the Jazz Age, the sidebar restaurant has the feel of an underground club and live music Wednesday through Sunday. When we visit, acclaimed jazz musician Benny Weinbeck is on the stage, tickling the ivories. The melodies help set the tone, whether you’re on a one-on-one date or communing with a group of friends. Guests take advantage of the various nooks, chatting over cocktails in the lounge or at the bar, or gregariously sharing small plates in the plush booths. “We wanted to give people a whole different experience,” D’Amico tells  me on our phone call, adding that he sees The Club Room as an apt after-dinner drinks spot for diners of Campiello and The Continental. However, you’d be remiss not to hunker down here for your main meal, as well. There’s also a late-night menu with gourmet burgers, charcuterie and some mains.  The highlight might be after the meal, though.

After we finished our entrees, Dennis rolls around with what he calls the Cart del Solone, a wooden bar cart stocked with an assortment of top-shelf spirits and ports, paired with complementary small bites. A 2-ounce pour of WhistlePig rye whiskey gets paired with a chunk of dark chocolate, while Cocchi goes with a chocolate-covered candied walnut and an Italian port is served with a biscotti, which the server suggests should be dipped in the wine. The bottles rotate constantly, so you never know what you might get.

All in all, The Club Room signals a return to the art of fine dining as an immersive experience. In the midst of it all, you feel transported—with every sight, bite and sound you might be in an underground club in the 1940s, a trendy bar in Lower Manhattan or a sultry cafe in Milan. D’Amico says the restaurant can take guests “wherever they want to go.”

Then again, the palm fronds rustling outside will likely remind you, you’re exactly where you want to be.

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