Campanile’s menu changes just about every day, depending on what’s in season at the farmers market. But the one dish that’s been starring on the menu since Day One is prime rib. Executive chef Mark Peel is born to grill. In this case, he grills the thick prime rib steak over almond and olive wood, giving the beef just enough char and smoke to make it taste like California. Then he smears the steak with a Provencal-inspired tapenade, adds a svelte red wine sauce and a ladle of slow-simmered flageolet or cannellini beans and braised bitter greens. Some people never order anything else at Campanile.
Grilled prime rib steak with cannellini beans and red wine sauce
Warm the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed stockpot over low heat. Cook the onion with the garlic, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the ham hock or slab bacon, vinegar, 2 cups of the stock and the beans. Increase the heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer gently, barely bubbling, until the beans are tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours, adding stock or water as needed to keep the beans covered. Skim any foam that rises to the top. Gently stir the beans once every 30 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Remove the ham hock or bacon and bay leaf. Allow the ham hock or bacon to cool. Using your fingers, separate the meat from the fat and the bone, shred the meat and add to the beans. Or, cut the bacon into one-quarter-inch dice and add to the beans.
Using a mortar and pestle, grind the anchovy, lemon and orange zests and the garlic into a paste. Add the olives and grind into a paste. Fold in the olive oil, lemon juice and basil and season to taste with pepper. (This makes about one-half cup; reserve the remaining tapenade for another use.)
Red wine sauce
Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook the shallots and pepper until the shallots become lightly colored, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the wine and Port and cook until reduced by three-fourths, about 15 minutes. Add the stock and reduce the sauce until it thinly coats the back of a spoon, about 20 minutes. Strain through a fine-mesh, stainless-steel strainer into a clean, medium saucepan and season to taste with salt. Keep warm over very low heat.
Heat the grill on medium-high.
Sprinkle one side of the steaks with half the pepper and salt and press firmly to adhere the seasoning to the meat. Turn the steaks and repeat on the other side.
Grill the steaks about 4 minutes on each side for medium-rare, about 5 minutes for medium. Allow the steaks to rest in a warm spot for 5 to 10 minutes.
Warm the cannellini beans in a medium saucepan over medium heat until heated through, about 10 minutes, adding up to 1 cup of stock if the beans appear too dry. Add the bitter greens, stirring briefly until the greens just wilt, about 5 minutes longer.
Spoon about one-half cup of the beans with a few greens onto the center of each of 4 large, warm plates. Spread a very thin layer (about 1 teaspoon) of the tapenade over each cooked steak and, using a very sharp knife, cut the steaks into slices of no more than one-half-inch thick. Place the sliced steak next to the beans. Spoon about one-fourth cup of red wine sauce around each portion of steak and serve immediately.