I had heard that Cucina 455 had replaced the previous Cucina Isabella, whose owners had vacated their Camarillo restaurant and gone to Italy to work on culinary interests there, so I thought it was time to visit this new Italian eatery.
We asked for a taste of one of the pasta dishes and Cardamone brought over a small plate of the pappardella al ragu di cinghiale ($16.95 for a regular portion), a dish combining homemade wide ribbon pasta sauteed with a scoop of wild boar ragout, a stew that was flavorful even though the boar wasn't as wildly distinctive as expected.
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Around 5:05 we went over to the entrance and saw the patio was still barred, though we could see several people setting up inside for business. One friend went over to the side window and knocked and waved. Quickly we were met at the entry by, as it turned out, Cardamone. for dinner. We pointed out that it was now about 10 after. Suddenly it dawned on him that he had forgotten to push his clocks and watches forward for the spring change of time. That little matter settled, he welcomed us with open arms.
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When we cruised up around 4:45 on a Sunday afternoon and saw that the spot had not yet opened for dinner, we soon discovered that time had slipped the mind of Cucina 455 owner Sam Cardamone.
At our table, as well as others, he pointed out that the menu covered various Italian culinary areas, while he personally was from Calabria. He happily translated the phrasing on the menu, "piccolo ristorante . grande cucina," as "little restaurant, big cooking," a slogan in which he takes pride.
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that piqued our interest include a grilled pork chop with olive oil and aromatic herbs and a pescatora pizza featuring rock shrimp, tuna, tomato and mozzarella.
Cucina 455 in Camarillo
shrimp, calamari, scallops and clams in a delicious white wine and tomato broth. I liked the simplicity of the tagliata alla Fiorentina ($23.95), with slices of grilled New York steak surrounding a mound of baby arugula and shaved parmigiana, all attractively presented on a large plate. Saltimbocca alla Romana ($19.50) was satisfactory, with its veal cutlets tender, accented by the sauteed sage and prosciutto.
Caciucco alla Livornese ($22.95) was the most satisfying of our main dishes, with its hearty mix of Blue Air Max 90
We were soon joined by other diners and found Cardamone a nonstop host who also took orders and chatted up all comers. He was previously general manager of Briganti in South Pasadena.
The three of us decided on two salads, one shared. The Cesarina ($8) was distinguished by an ample topping of shaved Parmesan, along with tiny croutons. The panzanella Toscana ($10) was a better version of the tomato and crouton salad than a recent one we tried, though not as luscious as our introduction to the genre a few years ago in Sonoma. Still, there was a good wedge of an heirloom tomato, a sprinkling of red onion and cucumbers, small croutons and some fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese.
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