December 2013 update: Well, we had another bad experience. There was almost no one at the restaurant this day for lunch. The help was unmotivated, and the pizza was completely lackluster. It really had the feel that they were going out of business soon.We've given it enough tries. We're done.
August 2013 update: It appears Campania have expanded their menu since our last visit - and the pizza's are back to the standard that we first came to love from them. Mrs. RJG learned a new trick: Order it "extra crispy". Also it appears they closed their original location in the Uptown section of Dallas. This closure seems to have resulted in more focus on the Southlake location - much to its benefit.
November 2011 update: Since I wrote the below, it appears Campania have lost their Vera Pizza Napoletana certification. Whether that's due to an authentic lack of consistently meeting standards, or Campania just didn't want to pay the fees, is anyone's guess. The RJG thinks certifications in the business world are nothing more than a racket, so it doesn't matter to me one way or the other. But worth mentioning all the same. On our last visit, I felt the pizza was slightly undercooked, and this is the second disappointing visit in a row for me. I'm concerned it's "not the same as it used to be." Mrs RJG had the penne arrabiata and the sauce was very good - and spicy as it should be.
Sometime back in the late 1980s, when the RJG first began to backpack through Europe, one of the great pleasures in life was to devour an individual Italian style pizza. Not to mention that it was very affordable for a budget-conscious backpacker, usually costing no more than $5 even in the most expensive places like Sweden or Norway. These were not the big sloppy gooey cheese creations, like at home, but rather a more simplistic, but no less delicious, pizza pie. And like most Americans, I didn't know pizza was meant to be eaten with a knife and fork.
While in the 1980s this kind of pizza might have seemed a novelty, today it is more accepted. Whether it's due to the fact that many Americans have now traveled through Europe, or just the notion that we should be eating things more "authentic", is anybody's guess. No matter, as we're all fortunate to at least have the opportunity.
The Southlake location of Campania's is one of 26 pizzeria's in America to be certified by the Vera Pizza Napoletana, an organization committed to "producing authentic Neapolitan style pizza according to the guidelines of the Verace Pizza Napoletana Association based in Naples, Italy."
We've been to the Southlake location multiple times now, and each time the memories of Europe raced through my mind. The thin crust is durable and slightly chewy but not crispy. The ingredients are all top notch. I still get a kick out of ordering the salami pizza, with the huge round slabs covering the pie.
Also recommended is the salad, once again a simple variety, as you'll find in Europe. Fresh greens with a vinaigrette dressing that I could eat all day.
They also have pasta, which we haven't tried, though I'd expect nothing but the best. Probably a drier version than what we're used to here, if authenticity continues to hold court.
There's a tendency amongst food reviewers to state that places like Campania are "much better" because they are "more authentic". Phooey I say. I'm proud of the "Italian American" style and consider it almost an entirely different food from what you'll typically find in a Tuscan village or a major metropolis like Rome. For me, they're both wonderful, and I'm glad we have the options to eat at both here in America.