Every once in a while, my girlfriend likes to say how much she wants to go to Campanile for grilled cheese night. Of course, this night is only on Thursdays and whenever I ask what she wants to eat on a Thursday, she has no opinion. Finally, after talking about it so much, the two thought processes finally collided and we made our way to Campanile on an actual Thursday for their grilled cheese night.
The first thing you notice about Campanile is the awesome building. The inside is gray, bare brick, with a vaulted glass roof that gives the impression that you are sitting outdoors without being kitschy. The next thing you notice is that this place is actually pretty fancy. Although the concept of a grilled cheese night evokes thoughts of childhood when life was cheap and easy, Campanile doesn’t make things cheap. A quick look at the regular menu showed some prices that made me immediately reach back for the grilled cheese menu.
The grilled cheeses themselves weren’t exactly a bargain though. The Classic Grilled cheese starts at 15 bucks and the prices only go up from there. Since this was ordinarily something I could make for less than a buck in my own apartment, I already had myself some high expectations for these grilled cheeses. I perused the menu and was disappointed in the lack of a simple grilled cheese with bacon. Instead, I found the next closest thing, called the Autostrada. This one was made with cured meats, provolone and cherry pepper for 17 bones. A quick search of the Google told me that cherry pepper was more than just Cherry Dr. Pepper. In fact, it was sometimes a hot pepper. As for the meats, I figured they would be of the delicious Italian sort since autostrada is the Italian word for freeway. When the waiter came for the order, I asked if the cherry pepper was spicy, and when he said it wasn’t I asked for my autostrada to be free of the pepper. We also asked what came with the grilled cheeses and were told they came with salad and fries. Although I had no need for the salad, I didn’t order without it because I knew the girlfriend would want to eat mine.
After no time the autostrada arrived. The grilled cheese was dwarfed by the size of the salad, but the sandwich still looked great as it sat there oozing with meat and cheese. I quickly dumped the salad and went to work on the grilled cheese. The fries weren’t out yet, but I had no desire to wait. This thing had been cooked to a crisp like a panino on the outside, but the inside was still nice and gooey. As for the meats, there was a nice mix, but the only meat that I could definitively isolate in terms of flavor was salami. Aside from that, I’m sure there was something ham-esque, but whatever they were, they all tasted great when grilled together.
Midway through the sandwich, the fries finally came. It would have been great to have them when the actual sandwich arrived, but I suppose I was just happy to have them at this point. They strangely came in one basket for the two of us, which led me to wonder if a place that charges 17 bucks for a grilled cheese was actually being cheap about their fry portions. There were definitely plenty of fries, but I was still a bit suspect. Combined or not, these fries provided a great side to my autostrada that the salad could not.
Grilled cheese night at Campanile was ultimately deemed a success. It was one of the best grilled cheeses I had ever eaten and I could probably try a few more on the menu and be happy. The timing of the fries definitely could have been improved and although my sandwich was quite delicious, it is just really hard to justify spending 17 bucks on a grilled cheese, even if it is stuffed with delicious cured meats.