Andrew Tanielian, NBCDFW
Fourth-generation owner David Campisi says his family's famous pizza was introduced by accident.
If you looking for a slice of history with unique southern Italian style pizza, Campisi’s is ready to serve you.
“You know, we are famous for our oblong shaped pizzas. We don’t do a traditional shaped pizza. We use smoked provolone and my great-grandma’s original marinara recipe,” said owner David Campisi.
Campisi’s started in 1946 by David’s grandfather, Joe Campisi. An entrepreneur early on, Joe opened a grocery store in downtown Dallas. Later, friends of the family opened a bar on McKinney Avenue called the “Egyptian Lounge" which would soon become the first Campisi’s -- starting an almost seven-decade-long tradition. Originally, the company never had any intention of serving food.
“His sisters would bring food in and some of the customers were like wow ‘What is this?’ and we were like ‘It’s a pizza!’ So, that’s how the pizza got introduced -- accidentally,” said David Campisi about his grandfather.
The most famous pie is the “All the Way Pizza” with, sausage, salami, mushrooms, green peppers and green onions.
"We take a lot of pride in what we do. I always tell everyone it’s such a gift and a blessing to do what I get to do everyday. It’s the legacy of my family,” said Campisi.
The first restaurant has a connection President Kennedy and nightclub owner Jack Ruby.
“He was at our Mockingbird store the night on the eve Kennedy was assassinated, but again, I’m 43 years old. I wasn’t even alive, so I wasn’t there, but you hear a lot of different stories. There’s a lot of mystique about our family -- some true, some not true," says Campisi. "Back in those days, it was a small town in Dallas. My grandfather knew everybody. Jack Ruby was in the bar business in downtown.”
While the tale is well branded in Campisi history (as well as its website), David instead values the quieter, consistent history of his other customers.
“I’m fourth generation of my family and our customers are all fourth, now I’m seeing fifth generation customers," said Campisi.
It’s loyalty earned after decades of hard work.
“The good thing is my family is still involved and we are having a lot of fun with this and we’ve gone back to, back to the basics of what the restaurant business should be. We’re all about handshakes and hellos and reinvesting in neighborhoods that we’ve been in. Our expansion started in '92, but our little model is we’re going back to pockets of neighborhoods. We want to be known for our neighborhood Italian restaurant,” said Campisi.