Eats Beat: Familiar pizzerias like Campisi’s, Mama’s make way for new Cane Rosso

01/30/2014 12:00 AM

01/29/2014 12:34 PM

Seventy years ago, Texans discovered pizza.

The Allied troops invading Italy in World War II were far from home and familiar foods. But they found street vendors, and a crisp crust with cheese and marinara.

They brought pizza home to Texas, and by 1950 pizzerias were open in San Antonio and at Campisi’s Egyptian Lounge in Dallas.

So the Campisi’s family welcomes new-wave pizzerias like Cane Rosso.

“We’re an iconic, traditional Italian restaurant with a history going back nearly 70 years,” David Campisi said this week.

“Cane Rosso does a nice job. They have a good following. We do a crispy pizza. They do a Neapolitan pizza. I always say — hey, go try it.”

Campisi’s is one of four iconic 1950s-60s pizza restaurants along Texas 180 in Fort Worth or Arlington. The others: Margie’s Original Italian Kitchen and Mama’s Pizza in Fort Worth and the soon-to-reopen Candlelite Inn in Arlington.

The Campisi’s Fort Worth location has a growing delivery business and has added half-price wine nights Mondays and Tuesdays, Campisi said. The restaurant also sells more Italian-style steaks and dinners since a nearby steakhouse closed.

“Our customers said it was too noisy,” Campisi said, so the restaurant added acoustical panels and now draws more diners of all ages.

Campisi’s is open daily at 6150 Camp Bowie Blvd.; 817-916-4561, campisis.us.

• Margie’s, which opened in 1953, served Fort Worth’s first pizza. The restaurant was sold and reopened with different owners, and no longer uses founder Margie Walters’ recipes.

Son Doyle Walters said he thinks Cane Rosso would remind his late mom of her Florence, Italy, home.

“I like it,” he said. “Not too much sauce, really thin.”

Cane Rosso’s custom oven reminds him of the first brick oven at Margie’s, he said, shipped to Fort Worth by train.

• Mama’s Pizza, named for late matriarch Elizabeth “Mama” Biggs, opened in 1968 near what is now Texas Wesleyan University.

“When other pizza places open, our sales dip at first, then go right back up,” said owner Jordan Scott.

Mama’s new bestsellers are baked chicken wings and gluten-free pizzas, he said.

The rolled, garlic-brushed crust was revolutionary when Mama’s opened in an age of Pizza Huts and Inns.

“We’ve always had something special,” Scott said.

Mama’s has eight stores, including the recent flagship store at 5800 Camp Bowie Blvd.; 817-731-MAMA, mamaspizzas.net.

• Tacos and sushi? Together?

Much-heralded Little Lilly Sushi and real-deal Revolver Taco Lounge will team up March 2 for an eight-course dinner that will combine Japanese and Michoacán-style fish and add Japanese hibachi meats.

It costs $55 in advance at 817-820-0122 or revolvertacolounge@gmail.com.

Revolver is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Saturday. Recent specials include chiles en nogada (creamy walnut sauce); revolvertacolounge.com.

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