My second time at Campanile's Thursday cheese night. First time, we sat at a table and Nancy Silverton was at the bar making sanwiches. Second time, we sat at the bar in front of the chef Mark Peel making sandwiches.
I recommend sitting at the bar in front of the chef. Getting seats on Thursday are tough. They take reservations for parties of five and over. To get bar seats is just luck. This night, there were some people who were sitting at the bar since 6:30pm. We left around 10:15pm and they were still there. There are four bar seats next to the kitchen door and in front of the two chefs making sandwiches. According to the regulars who've going for "years", they arrived around 7pm to get their seats. We, party of four, arrived around 8:10pm. They said it was an hour wait. Luckily, we were able to sit at the bar around 8:45pm.
We ordered two appetizers, three sanwiches, and a dessert: two women and two men. This was enough food for three people, but one college guy was still hungary. One appetizer was grilled mozzarella with bread on skewers. I think with some herbs. OK - light dish. The other appetizer was a baked soft cheese with some buttered crusty bread - yummy - flavor was stronger than the mozzarella. All the bread is crusty, most likely from LA Brea Bakery next door. Not sure if they run it, since they sold it off. I've seen LA Brea Bakery in a major supermarket in Washington DC.
They had 14 cheese sandwiches to choose from. They change the menu every Thursday. I'm not sure which sandwiches stay on the menu. I only recognized "the classic" from my last visit. The bread is about six inches by four inches, so these are large cheese sandwiches. I prefer cutting them up so that they are like h'ors doeurves and tasting different types, as opposed to just eating one. Each sandwich comes with a vegetable salad(spinach or cole slaw) or french fries. Fries are usually soggy by the end of the meal. Also, depending on the number of orders in the kitchen, the sandwiches can be burnt :( Sitting at the bar allows you to check for un-burnt cheese sandwiches.
For the sandwiches, we chose "the classic" with guyere cheese, onions, and mustard - everyone's favorite. Came with spinach salad, a little too much oil.
The second was an open face sandwich with mozzarella and pesto and something else. One person preferred this sandwich next. Everyone liked it.
The third sandwich was closed faced sandwich with ricotta, proscuitto, garlic(spread with an end cut garlic clove on both sides of the bread), and probably some other good stuff. My Italian friend and I preferred this sandwich next.
I would have liked to try the sharp cheddar sandwich. We didn't order the Croque Monsieur because that had guyere and "the classic" already had guyere. Next time.
For dessert, we ordered the strawberry shortcake with italian macaroons. A very yummy and light dessert.
Since my Italian college friend was still hungary, we stopped by Pinks. It's been awhile since I've been there, but they have lots of themed-dogs. My friend ordered the pastrami dog with onion rings and I ordered the Ozzy dog (spicy sausage with american cheese, onions, and guacamole). My friend swallowed down his dog. The onion rings were ok, buy I prefer the ones at Twohleys in Alhambra (1224 North Atlantic Blvd, Alhambra, CA 91801-1050) - incredible diner. The Ozzy combo didn't really work, but the spicy sausage was good.
And then, we were able to swing by Al Gelato before 11:30pm and get more dessert. I don't think Al Gelato is as good as it was 7-8 years ago, but my friends loved it, since it was their first time. It's thicker than the gelato at other places. Their favorite flavor was pistachio. I still like cappuccino with the chocolate crunchy chewy bits. Also, their italian ices are good. I like cabernet. They used to make an excellent cassis, but that was 7-8 years ago.