Sandwiches. They’re friggin’ delicious. Actually, no, they’re more than delicious: They’re nutritious. Okay, so maybe they’re not actually nutritious, but that doesn’t matter, because if you’re eating a sandwich, it’s not your heart’s pump rate that you should be paying attention to, it’s the warmth of your heart that you want to feel. That’s why I settled on going to Campi’s. I wanted to cash in on the warm local sandwich shop scene in Rochester, and Campi’s small, mom-and-pop vibe seemed like just the thing I was looking for.
Campi’s sandwich shop, located off of Elmwood Avenue in the 19th Ward, is a local eatery that’s got quite the comfort cabin feel to it. And by comfort cabin, I mean the place is literally a small brick trailer in the middle of a parking lot. It’s pretty unassuming. You’d never think you were about to step into a restaurant from the outside. Once you hit the inside though — my god — the inside is a treat.
You ever go to some small town pizza place in upstate New York? Think that, but narrower and dimmer. You’ve got three segments to Campi’s once you step foot through its door. On your left is an order counter, with a set of two metal fences that help funnel the line of hungry customers to the counter. Behind the counter is the sandwich station, a craftsman’s bench dedicated to forging the fine wares of Campi’s like “The Bomber,” a steak sandwich that literally takes up an entire platter.
The center of the shop, in front of the entrance, is a collection of pure nostalgia: A shootout-gallery hunting game next to a Ms.Pac-Man (arguably the better Pac-Man) arcade cabinet, a TV tuned (with a legit, bunny-ear, analog antenna) to some random extreme sports show re-run from the ‘90s. Now, back onto your right is the eating area, a cozy array of booths for snacking on your freshly-made sandwich. This part of the shop is a little weird, since the walls aren’t your typical restaurant borders. Oh, no, instead, the walls are literally shingled with tiles like the exterior of a camping cabin in the woods. This comfortable texture is made even more interesting by these small, jutting roof edges that come out from the top-most parts of the walls. All over the top of these false roofs are random souvenirs of blue collar life, like a garden hoe and some carpentry tools. I’m not sure what kind of look the wonderful people at Campi’s are going for, but I dig it, since the food’s pretty cheap and the vibe’s the last thing I wanna worry about at a cheap sandwich place. Speaking of the food, let’s talk about the food.
There’s really two things that Campi’s is known for: it’s the steak sandwich and it’s the Bomber. I already told what you need to know about the Bomber, but I think it’s worth mentioning that I made the biggest mistake in not ordering the steak sandwich. For my trip, I brought two other CT staffers: Humor Editor Eric Franklin and Editor-in-Chief Justin Trombly. Both of them made the correct choice in ordering the steak sandwich while I made the poor, but not regretted, decision of ordering the 6-inch Italian sub.
First off, let me tell you about this sub. This was by far, the greasiest, thickest, meatiest Italian sub I think I’ve ever eaten. Usually when you order an Italian, they just give you a few slices of salami, but these guys straight up gave me the whole pig. This thing was a beast, a beast with one flaw: pickles. I mean, seriously, who the hell puts pickles on an Italian? Gah, pickles are the worst, and if you like pickles, I completely respect your difference in taste but I also never ever want to go with you on one of those nice picnics with the checkered blankets and the cute lil’ wicker basket.
While the joint’s choice of using sweet peppers over regular banana peppers baffles me, there’s no denying that the mountain of grease that I ate was any less than goddamn incredible. This juicy, plump, meat-stack matched exactly what I expect when I order a classic Italian, if not surpassing my usual standard in its own way. Throughout the entire time I was wolfing down my sandwich, my taste buds were walking along the savory path of food nirvana, lost somewhere between space and time.
It was only after I had finished this glorious work of craftsmanship that I had taken a small nibble of the steak from Justin’s sandwich and realize: I fucked up. Although I thought I had taken a spiritual food journey, I really only went out on a small trip out to the mailbox and back. Imagine hitting max level in an MMO game and then completely getting decimated by the early raid boss in that new add-on that comes out as soon as you finally hit endgame (months of work and persistence, sullied). I will go back, and I will take on their steak sandwich. It is the morally right thing to do. In the meantime though, I want you to do me a favor. Go to Campi’s, eat a big-ass sandwich, and let your belly rest a little, you gorgeous human being.