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Q & A With Joey Campanaro

In the midst of an epic attack on NYC by colossal Asian restaurants, Joey Campanaro quietly opened a modest, 28-seat spot on a West Village corner.  Little did he know his seasonal American would spark a “little guy” trend, resulting in a flurry of quaint American-influenced charmers.  The Little Owl marks the return of customer-driven restaurants, service and attention.  Joey’s gravy-smothered sliders and succulent pork chop made The Little Owl the most sought after table in the city.  But just who is the humble chef behind the kitchen doors…

What did you want to be when you grew up?

How did you get into food?
By being Italian and have food be the central part of my families culture

What was your first job in food?
I asked my dad for money to buy a boat. He told me to get a job. I worked the summers washing dishes and when I saved enough cash I bought the boat.

How did you meet and decide to team up with Gabriel Stulman?
Gabriel was bartender where I was the chef. His work ethic and ambition convinced me to go into business with him.

What’s your favorite dish on the menu at The Little Owl?
The duck appetizer

What’s your least favorite dish (and yes, you must pick one)?
Cod fish. I just don’t like cod fish but the dish is good.

What is your junk food of choice?
Philly cheese steaks

How did you go from running such a massive kitchen at Pace to such an intimate one at Little Owl?
This is a tough one. I guess I was employed there and didn’t really choose to work in such a massive kitchen. I wasn’t afraid of the task, I’ve worked in larger than that and I guess having the experience to run a big operation versus a small operation, I’m much more satisfied at tlo. I do wish we had more room. I could get a lot more done and in a shorter amount of time.

Other than your own, what’s your favorite restaurant in NYC?
The Red Cat

What culinary trend do you most embrace?
Little sandwiches, I love them. Also the ever growing affinity for Spanish food.

What trend do you wish would die already?
Styled facial hair in the kitchen. Chefs-shave!

What’s next on the horizon for you?  Any new ventures or restaurants in the works? Spill the beans…
Hahaha. I’ll never tell. I just want to keep tlo special.

Until we eat again,
Restaurant Girl
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