Italian Classic on Camp Bowie

Campisi's flatbread Pizza has been legendary in Dallas since 1946. Now the ever-expanding empire puts down roots in Fort Worth.

David Campisi bears a remarkable resemblance to his grandfather, Carlo. He has taken the reins at the family-owned favorite and has been busily expanding the franchise around the Metroplex in recent years.

“In 1950 we moved to our Mockingbird Lane location to take over the previous ‘Egyptian Lounge.’ At the time there was not enough money to buy a new sign, so the original Egyptian sign was changed by removing lounge and adding restaurant,” says David Campisi.

When Campisi’s first opened on the Ridglea stretch of Camp Bowie in early spring, the valet lines and wait times were a bit daunting. Who could blame people for wanting to be the first in line? The classic signage went up early and had been promising that delicious pizza without having to hit the turnpike for many months in advance

Mouths were watering in anticipation. Just like the fans who cue up in front of the Apple store awaiting each and every new product launch...folks were swarming in and out of the front door every night with the take-and-bake pizza boxes they had just scored. The waitlist is more manageable now, and the atmosphere was noticeably relaxed on our second visit to this location.

The interior features contemporary aesthetics paired with large black-and-white family photos gracing the walls. Small flickering candles add ambiance to the dimly lit main dining area. High-backed booths and scattered tables comprise the dining room with an adjoining bar and patio. An enormous wrought-iron chandelier provides a striking focal point in the restaurant. Soft sounds from ‘50s - ‘60s era provide an element of familiarity for diners who have frequented the original restaurant. Let’s not forget the menu.

I recommend Italian Bruschetta ($8.95), Randy White Toasted Ravioli ($8.50) and Calamari ($11.95). All three appetizers are generous portions for sharing among a group of 4 - 6.

Bruschetta baguettes are rubbed with garlic, toasted and served with chopped olive spread and a tangy tomato basil dipping sauce. The lightly breaded calamari are topped with Italian seasoning, splashed with lemon juice, sprinkled with Romano cheese and served with a side of marinara sauce. The Toasted Ravioli is filled with your choice of either beef or cheese. The ravioli are toasted until crunchy outside, smothered in fresh tomato sauce and sprinkled with melting Provolone cheese.

On our first visit, we could not overlook several pasta specialties. The Shrimp Scampi ($13.50) featured eight wild-harvested gulf shrimp, which are sautéed in a garlic butter sauce. We thought the sauce teetered on the oily side, but the flavors were spot on. But it was time to move on to what Campisi’s is truly famous for: the flatbread pizza.

We sampled both the Cali Pizza ($16.95 medium) and the Muffaletta Pizza ($ small). The Cali Pizza is topped with slices of grilled chicken, Roma tomatoes, artichoke hearts and tangy marinara sauce. We appreciated that the pizza was covered evenly and completely with toppings. My favorite pizza was the Muffaletta, which was salty with toppings of chopped salami, Canadian bacon and delicious olive spread made from firm, chopped green olives. The small size is plenty for one or enough to split with a dinner salad. The crunchy cracker-thin crust is still deliciously unique.

Save room for dessert. The Tiramisu ($4.95) is a creamy, layered indulgence with hints of espresso, dusted with cocoa powder in traditional style. The Italian Cream Cake ($4.95) is one of the best cakes I have tasted in years. Its homemade icing is simply amazing, and the layered cake is a delicate end to a delightful meal.