Krista Campano gazed at the photos of her grandparents on the wall of the restaurant she just opened. A tear came to her eye.

“I’m super excited to represent my family and their name,” she said. “I wish they were here.”

Campano’s Cucina on East Main Street in Fredonia, which opened Friday, is a very personal thing for Krista.

It features classic Italian recipes from, and inspired by, her late grandparents, Earl and Marion Campano.

“I was rolling meatballs at a little age,” she said.

OBSERVER Photos by M.J. Stafford
Krista Campano poses outside her new restaurant, Campano’s Cucina.

That led to a 25-year career in food service and a successful catering business. Campano emphasized she will retain that business, and will still offer functions at the Rotunda Grapevine Farm, a popular site for wedding receptions.

Campano’s Cucina fulfills a lifelong dream for her. “I always wanted to have a restaurant,” she said. “It had to be a perfect storm, and it was.”

Here’s how it came about: She catered the wedding of her friend Bob Scudder’s daughter, and mentioned her dream to him there. Scudder pointed out he had a restaurant space open in Fredonia, where he formerly ran the Mustard Seed in a joint venture. Campano jumped at the chance and snapped it up.

“They’ve been more than accommodating, leaving us equipment, tables, chairs,” she said. There were some minor renovations done to the space, most notably a wood bar built by Joe Michalak.

Surroundings are important, but food is the whole point of a restaurant, and that was what Campano wanted to talk about most. She highlighted her meat-sauce lasagna and her zuppa di pesce, a seafood soup that is poured onto a bed of linguini and “brings the wow factor.”

It’s confirmed that her pasta e fagioli soup is spectacular. Specks of pancetta and a splash of white wine take it from simply good soup, to a memorable experience.

Influenced by her catering career, Campano also offers non-Italian dishes. There’s a pork belly appetizer featuring a mango-habanero sauce. Asian-inspired stir fries are also on the menu.

A notable touch: Campano employs her own baker. That means fresh-baked bread and desserts. In fact, she said, “people can order fresh cakes for special events.”

There is also a full bar run by Gina Vecchio.

Opening day on Friday was by reservation only and featured three seatings. The restaurant opened to public, general dining on Monday. It will be open Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 9 p.m., and Fridays and Saturdays from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.


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