Looking for a nostalgic experience in Dallas? Look no further than the original Campisi’s on Mockingbird. But make sure you get your mind set right. Eliminate distractions and take your time while you are there.
My friend was headed into town while stateside from Afghanistan and suggested we go to Campisi’s for supper. He couldn’t believe I had never been there and he was shocked I had never heard of the place. He kept going on about the great food like he was selling it to earn a living. And I must say the food didn’t disappoint. It was delicious. Especially the crab claws. Ohhh Mama Mia they were good. But ultimately it wasn’t the food that captivated me. It was the history of the original Campisi’s.
When I walked in I felt as if I was being immersed into a scene from the movie “Goodfellas“, but that feeling was soon eclipsed by nostalgia. Campisi’s is a dimly lit place full of rich colors dominated by red on the furniture and walls. Photos of multiple generations of the Campisi family and celebrities line the walls throughout the restaurant. You could hear the 1950s song “Little Bitty Pretty One” by Thurston Harris as we were greeted by the hostess.
Our host, Shirley, sat us in a small room that previously was a private club. This was before the “liquor by the drink” laws changed in the state of Texas (1971). Originally, the room was used for storage when brothers Sam and Joe Campisi ran the restaurant. Sam wanted to turn the space into a “private club”, because at that time you had to be a “member of a club” in order to drink liquor. Joe disagreed with the notion so they dropped the idea. But when Joe went to Vegas for a week, Sam took the opportunity to convert the space into the club on his own. Joe was in for quite a surprise upon his return.
We spent a couple hours in the restaurant conversing with Regina Campisi who expressed a genuine concern for my friend who will be heading back to Afghanistan soon. The story telling and the sincerity of the staff was refreshing. It reminded me of a time when you actually knew who your neighbor was and not just your neighbor’s business on FB. It reminded me that there are people out there that genuinely care. So if you are looking for a stroll into Dallas history or just need a break from things, I recommend Campisi’s.