Beyond Malbec wine and tango, few vestiges of Argentinian culture make it to Fort Worth. That may be due to the dearth of an Argentinian ex-pat community on this side of North Texas. The Argentinian owners of Del Campo Empanadas, which opened in May, admitted the same on a recent visit. The cozy space that occupies a Northside strip mall boasts rows and rows of golden-baked empanadas. Each savory pie is hand-formed with unique shapes that denote the contents. The shrimp empanada is triangular while the ham and cheese is cylindrical, for example.
The menu offers authentic Argentinian recipes plus European and American favorites. All are baked in thin but hearty shells of pastry dough.
The Beef Classic seemed like a safe start before I ventured to some of the more adventurous options. Alternating salty bites of green olives, savory ground beef, and hints of fiery spices met my palate. An accompanying side of chimichurri sauce added an oregano-infused pop and a tinge of acidity.
Del Campo offers daily specials that include the pizza pepperoni on Thursdays. Each gooey bite was a delightful blend of piquant pepperoni, mozzarella, and just a kiss of oregano.
The shrimp empanada, which comes with plump morsels of crustaceans mixed in a medley of cheeses that tasted like cheddar and mozzarella, was a delight. The garlicky amalgam of savory textures was filling, even if the cheese somewhat overpowered the seafood.
The ham-and-cheese option was far from adventurous but benefited from the creative use of ricotta (a nice break from the ample mozzarella and thick cheeses in the previous pies) and the generous sprinkling of oregano. Each morsel of pork was thickly cut and a delicious centerpiece to the Italian-inspired take on empanadas.
Del Campo Empanadas’ only vegetarian-friendly option, the caprese, was comparatively refreshing to the other baked pies I had that day. The ripe and slightly sweet sliced Roma tomatoes shone through, as did the fresh leaves of basil that retained their freshness even after being baked.
Del Campo Empanadas, 10724 N Beach St, FW. 817-562-5888. 9am-3pm Sun, 9am-7pm Mon-Thu, 9am-8pm Fri-Sat. All major credit cards accepted.
A small Argentinian flag (held by a toothpick pole) designated the one true Argentine empanada I ordered that day — Argentine Style Beef. The juicy ground meat, seasoned with cumin and paprika, was topped with sweet raisins, briny green olives, sweet red bell peppers, and small slivers of onions for a blend of sweet, salty, and savory which was as complex as it was enjoyable.
The two desserts I tried were light but densely packed with flavors. The Banutella was about the size of a cannolo and was encased in a fried dough similar to the classic Italian dessert. The fillings consisted of slices of sweet, ripe bananas and a rich, dark chocolate sauce. Eating the puff pastry was an entirely different experience. The brittle shell broke apart easily, sending small plumes of powdered sugar every which way. The real treat was at the center — a thick layer of dulce de leche. The reduced milk and sugar confection tasted like caramel, but the texture was much lighter.
Each meat pie or pastry offered at Del Campo Empanadas is carefully crafted, and the quality of each ingredient was noticeable. For folks who have tried more familiar Latin pies from Mexico, Colombia, and Central America, Del Campo Empanadas is a great place to further that empanada journey.
Del Campo Empanadas
Puff pastry $3.25
Ham and cheese $3.49
Pizza pepperoni $3.49
Beef classic $3.49
Argentine Style Beef $3.49