Specialty of the House
When you visit Miss February, save room for dessert
As one of the managers of Campisi's Restaurant, a family-run business that has been a Dallas favorite since 1946, Amber Campisi can be chauvinistic about her family's cooking. "I'll eat anything," she says, "but I don't usually like Italian anywhere else. The way we do it is just better." It's hard to argue with her, especially since she's willing to put her opinion where your mouth is. When the 23-year-old restaurateur visited our office, she hauled in enough oval Campisi's pizzas to feed the staff. "My family can't travel without them," she says. "When we go to the Cayman Islands every year, we bring lasagna and pizzas in a cooler. It's ridiculous."
Amber's affinity has been hard-earned. "There are pictures of me wearing an apron and a name tag when I was five years old," she says. "I would go to work with my dad when I was little and stay until closing time. They'd cover me with napkins, and I'd sleep in a booth." An interesting historical note about the restaurant: Jack Ruby, a friend of Amber's grandfather Joe, dined there the night before he shot Lee Harvey Oswald. This led the Warren Commission to interview the elder Campisi. "One of the stories is that Ruby came in and told my grandfather he was going to do it to spare the Kennedys the pain of a trial," she says. Whatever was said that night, Dallas now has seven Campisi's restaurants that are better known for their squisito Italian cuisine--and soon for Amber's lovely pictorial--than for any historical connections.
Miss February first appeared in PLAYBOY in December 2003 as part of our 50th Anniversary Playmate Search. Amber decided to try out when our scouts visited her hometown. "I was done with college," she says, "and I wanted to try something fun and new, so I thought, Why not? Modeling comes easily to me--I could do it all day." A self-described social creature, Amber says she could also talk all day and even all night: "Sometimes I'll start chatting with customers and lose track of the time, and I'll look up and it's two in the morning. I love it when that happens."
As for dating, Miss February appreciates the romantic, old-school approach. "I'm the type who likes dinner, wine and conversation. He doesn't have to be the cutest guy, just as long as I'm having fun and laughing." Oldschool she may be, but Amber is hardly bound by tradition. "I usually make the first move," she says. "I like guys who are hard to get. I'm all about the chase." You should definitely consider yourself hunted if Amber appears with her idea of a romantic dish: some kind of pasta, "along with a really good Italian steak with lots of garlic--which is an aphrodisiac--and some kind of dessert made with chocolate, also an aphrodisiac." And the music? Sinatra? Tony Bennett? Sorry: "I love Sade and Erykah Badu--any R&B with a slow, sexy groove."
Though Miss February's ideal Valentine's Day would involve--surprise!--good food and wine (and some fella, we assume), her most memorable came after she had broken up with her boyfriend and moved into her first apartment. "We were still friends," she says. "I told him I was lonely and that I wanted a big white fluffy cat--an annoying, girlie, prissy cat. He brought over this box, and I heard the meow and got so excited. I opened it, and there was the ugliest cat ever. She was every color but white, and she had huge ears and this giant rat tail. I just howled--it was the perfect gift. But she's a sweet kitty. I named her Bella, and now she and I are inseparable."
So there lies the secret to Amber's heart: Start with food, then move to fur.
Photography by Arny Freytag and Stephen Wayda