Thursday, March 14, 2013

Campisi's, Italian, Dallas-TX, Fort Worth-TX

Last visit: September 2014 (Fort Worth)

Rating: Buy

Other locations: Dallas (4), Plano, Frisco, Rockwall, Ft. Worth

September 2014 update: We finally made it to the new Fort Worth restaurant on Camp Bowie. The exciting thing here is this like the original Egyptian, in that it's a full service restaurant rather then their fast food styled pizza-pasta joints. We enjoyed our lunch immensely as expected, though I do need to remind them to go easy on the sauce. The pasta was literally swimming in it. I love their base red sauce, but it's not that good. I suspect this will be our regular stop for the rJG barring a sudden move to NE Tarrant.

Original review

Continuing on with our annual meeting, Campisi's was selected as our next lunch. The Garland Troublemaker (TGT) and I consider Campisi's the perfect local institution to take out of towner's, but in a casual QSR type setting. Thus not ideal for clients and vendors, but perfect for internal lunch meetings. Ideally we'd be able to dine at the original Egyptian, but of course the distance isn't practical. But their other 8 outlet shops are ideal for a quick lunch. And, I should highlight, at a great price.

I'd actually covered Campisi's before in this blog, way back in the summer of 2008. It was the downtown location, and I had just met a former co-worker there. But inexplicably I never linked it to Urbanspoon. As such, I'm going to wipe the record clean, and start fresh here. And for my most astute observers, you may recall we took our new employee SoCalGal here at the Richardson/Far North Dallas location for a lunch last year.

For any old timer from Dallas, Campisi's Egyptian is an institution. Prior to the 1970s, the Campisi's on Mockingbird (still there) was one of only a handful of places in town to get EYE-talian food. According to Mr. RJG's Mom, her and Dad made a beeline there immediately upon moving to the Dallas area in 1967, being the recent transplants from the New York City area that they were. Apparently it was a thumbs down affair, and they vowed to never return (I was all of 2, so of course have no recollection of the event). To this day, the RJG has never stepped foot into the original Egyptian (not because the parents wouldn't go, but because I keep wandering a bit further south to Pietro's when I'm already that close to Lower Greenville). And the irony here is that if I was traveling from out of town, it is highly likely this would be my first Italian experience in the DFW area (the old institutions are an RJG magnet).

Fast forward to sometime in the early 1990s and Campisi's was just beginning to expand, with a more casual / quick service format. I had music friends up in Planet Plano, and they decided we should dine at Campisi's one evening. One taste of their salad and pasta entry - and I realized I missed a lot growing up. Delicious. It's completely old school red sauce Italian. Yuppies, or those into authentic Italian, can check their noses at the door. Real deal here folks: New York styled American Italian.

As mentioned in the prelude, we introduced SoCalGal to Campisi's last year. Her mother is Italian, and she said that she's always on the lookout for a great homemade meatball when she dines out. She's the same age as the RJG, so she's a bit of an old schooler herself. After one bite, she said the meatballs were awesome, just like she remembered from her youth and immediately earned her seal of approval.

And with this visit, everyone had a fantastic experience. I stayed traditional and went with the spaghetti and meatball with a side salad. TGT had a meat pizza that he devoured faster than anyone you know (for context, he's the size of an NFL offensive lineman). The Boss (who's basically been my supervisor for the last 6 years) went with the Bolognese. Even though he lives in Phoenix now, he grew up in Washington DC proper - and stated that Bolognese was his favorite dish as a kid. Huge thumbs up from him. We had one gentleman with us who resides in St. Louis, and those in the know will recognize that St. Louis has some of the best Italian restaurants in the country (especially on The Hill, from which the RJG has had many memorable meals). All in all, we couldn't have picked a better choice.

Unfortunately for us denizens of NE Tarrant, Campisi's, despite having some 9 locations, have traditionally eschewed anything this side of DFW airport. However, they have finally broke down and opened a Ft. Worth location. So perhaps Northeast Tarrant is in the cards soon?

And that concludes this annual meeting as far as new entries go. For dinner that night, we went to Casa Milagro, which continues to be the RJG's favorite Mexican restaurant in DFW. And for lunch next day, we went to The Boss' favorite hangout: Love and War in Texas. This was followed by 24 hours of exercising straight through....

Website

Campisi's on Urbanspoon

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