Thursday, January 17, 2013

Campo's Deli Review

On a cold blistery night, the GF and I scoured the options for delivery. The Grubhub's, the Living Social's, and the Seamless' of the web can get confusing and surprisingly mundane in terms of variety. So, we opted for DiningIn again - they offer a multitude of fresh options - with the caveat of a $7 delivery fee (ouch!).

But nothing stands in the way of my search for a decent Philadelphia-based 'Philly' cheesesteak. Regular readers know my peeve so I won't get into it again, but it's safe to say - Philadelphia has not impressed me with the quality of their steaks. Weak. Sauce.

This time around - I decided to go down a different route. Rather than go through the usual suspects that tout their Philly cheesesteak prowess, I went after reputed delis. One stood out in my search - and that was Campo's Deli.

Originally a tiny grocery store and luncheonette, over the past 60 years, Campo's has developed in a specialty hoagie shop that is also known for their cheese steaks. They also recognize that all good sandwiches begin with the bread and they get their crunchy, yet pillow bread from South Philly's famous Liscio's Bakery.

DiningIn was on point with their delivery - the estimated wait time was listed as an hour from time of ordering - but they arrived 30 minutes early! Score one for DingingIn. As I reached into the bag, I took out one of the long torpedos and salivated expectantly.

Cheese Steak ($8.49)
Fried onions, cheese whiz 

Philly's Best - your rep is safe for now. But don't despair Philly. Those are high standards. Campo's is admittedly the best iteration of the cheese steak that I have tried in Philly thus far. The steak was slightly chewy, but plentiful and juicy. The 'fried' (read: grilled) onions were fresh and soaked up the juice from the meat. And that perfectly pliant sesame roll from Liscio's ... heaven.

But something was missing here ...

Ahhhhh yes! The cheese. My issue with Philly cheese steaks has been the consistency of the cheese. I'm used to Provolone being interspersed through every nook and cranny. The caramelized onions intermingling throughout the luscious thin-sliced rib-eye. Unfortunately, I had to scoff at the additional charge for provolone - and opted for the Cheese Whiz. 
Honestly? Perhaps this is the only way to go (in Philly at least)! The salty 'cheese' was perfectly primed to distribute throughout this cheese steak. It got into every crevice and added that certain je ne sais quois that was missing. It's sad to think that this can't be achieved with provolone here in Philly, but for now - the whiz will do donkey, it'll do. 

Campo's Special Italian Hoagie ($8.99)
Dilusso salami, ham capicola, peppered ham, pepperoni, prosciutto, and provolone. Fresh lettuce, tomatoes, onions, salt, pepper, and oregano. 

But you didn't honestly think I was done there did you? I had to go for their special hoagie - the Italian. A perfect melange of peppery deli meats - you've got salami, ham capicola, pepperoni, prosciutto, and peppered ham - melded with nicely sharp provolone. The lettuce and tomatoes brought a bit of freshness to eat bite and the raw onions (which I normally hate) seemed tempered and had enough restraint to admittedly make the hoagie. And as with any good sandwich, S & P heightened all of these flavors. 

Chicken Cutlet Hoagie ($9.79)
All-white chicken fillets, provolone, grilled tomatoes, lettuce, and onion. 

The GF went with the chicken cutlet hoagie - and I'm glad she did! This was heavier than expected, but the melted provolone was perfectly melded with the juicy chicken! The grilled tomatoes brought out a depth to the fruit that worked perfectly with this hot sandwich. This one's coma-inducing, so don't say I didn't warn you!

Homemade Macaroni & Cheese ($5.29)

Anyone who knows me knows that I can't resist homemade Mac n Cheese. But at almost $6 including tax/tip? I don't think I'll be ordering this from Campo's again. What you're looking at is a thimble sized container, albeit filled with perfectly al dente long macaroni pasta. Perfectly creamy, but perfectly overpriced as well. I have no problem paying certain price points - but the quantity of cash should equate to some semblance of the quantity of the food, especially when we're not talking about foie, kobe, or brillat savarin.

Potato Salad ($3.49

Reminiscent of a German potato salad, this was a side I could definitely get behind in terms of price point and quality. The red potatoes retained their structure, but were also perfectly creamy. The carrots and onions mixed well with the vinegar and mayo - I would definitely get this again!

Overall, Campo's Deli gets the job done. If you've got a hankering for a good hoagie or heck, one of the better cheese steaks I've had in Philly, be sure to head to Old City. But if it's chilly or you're feeling lazy, check out DingingIn! And if you think the $6.99 delivery fee is incredulous, note that they do rotate free delivery offers! The past week, they had a deal for Bitar's (be on the lookout for a review!) - and this week, they're offering free delivery from Bridget Foy's and Xochitl

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