Chef Camillo is back, to the delight of his legion of Princeton fans. After building a large, loyal following at his cafe in the Princeton Shopping Center, it was time for a change and now he has renovated and revitalized the landmark Avanti restaurant in the heart of downtown Pennington. His new Camillo’s Ristorante Italiano features his signature style of traditional cooking that places the ingredients front and center.

“I am an old school chef. I cook food that is meant to be savored, not merely admired,” Camillo states proudly. “Ninety-eight percent of what I serve is home-made. I select my produce, meats, and fish myself. I pick my own fish from the Fulton Fish Market to ensure that it is a fresh as possible. Any ingredient that I cannot get directly, I import straight from Italy.”

Camillo and his new team state that they are dedicated to bringing the venue back to the high level of cuisine for which it was famed. With a new, lower-priced menu, Camillo’s Ristorante Italiano aims to be the destination of choice for diners seeking a distinctive meal at a reasonable price, any day of the week.

One of the hallmarks of Camillo’s cuisine is the dedication given to the contribution of each distinct ingredient in a dish. The complex interplay of taste and texture is revealed from the first forkful, but each dish is presented simply; the food is what is important, not showy trends.

“The symmetry of the presentation focuses the eye on the food. You dine for the taste, the feel, the aroma, not for some architectural construction on a plate. The best food speaks for itself. It does not need a server to give you a lecture on why you should like a dish.”

Camillo has always focused on the entire dining experience. “The pasta is hand-made every day. I want to create the old-world atmosphere of the local trattoria, a destination that lends itself to the pure enjoyment of good friends and great food. Bring your own wine and linger over dishes, served family style.” Premium meats and fish specials will be a feature on the menu.

The renovated space on West Delaware Avenue has been opened up with bright, butter yellow walls, rich wood floors, and exposed beams. Open seven days, except Sunday mornings, for lunch and dinner, the space has been designed to accommodate wedding receptions and other private events for up to 100. The catering menu is custom designed to individual preferences.

Classically trained in Italy, Camillo mastered the technical aspects of his craft, but it was his years refining his personal approach to food, cooking all over the word, that created his unique style. His special pasta recipe is renowned and he supplies a number of local area restaurants.

Camillo’s Ristorante Italiano opened last November and has already become a vibrant part of the area. Offering the freshest meats and fish, the menu is priced to fit nearly every budget. Camillo’s also offers catering for events both on and off site. They are already popular with local businesses, having catered meetings at Merrill Lynch and Bristol-Myers Squibb, among others.

The grand opening is scheduled for Friday, April 8. Come bring your own wine or beer and enjoy complimentary canapes. Reservations are preferred. Long-time fans will celebrate the reunion at Camillo’s Ristorante Italiano, and new friends can discover the finest food in a warm, convivial setting.

Camillo’s Ristorante, 23 West Delaware Avenue, Pennington. 609-737-7174.

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