Sunday, February 27, 2011
I should note that my review of Cafe Capriccio cannot be completely impartial. Its reputation for excellence was sufficient for me to choose it as the site of my wedding proposal sight unseen. (And the fact that Ms. Garlic accepted is in itself a very strong review.) But it's still worthwhile to see if its reputation would hold up in the more sober light of a more typical date night. The answer: yes. The combination of food, service and price is as good as any I've experienced in the Capital region so far.
Having tried the signature squid ink pasta on our first visit, we decided go a little more classic this time. For the appetizers, ms. Garlic had a lovely selection of marinated olives and I went with the appetizer-sized puttanesca. I'm generally reluctant to order anything I can make well myself, but in this case it was worth it. The nicely spicy sauce was a beautiful compliment to fresh tagliatelle, and since fresh pasta is not yet part of our home repertoire it wasn't redundant.
For her main course, Ms. Garlic ordered some exceptional homemade ravioli filled with butternut squash, cranberry and orange zest. Although the sauce was perhaps a touch creamy for my tastes, it was terrific overall. I had a variation on Veal Mederia with a light, silky tomato and mushroom sauce. It was also very successful, with well-selected fresh vegetables and a very tasty polenta as accompaniments. (I'm rarely impressed by the latter, but the preparation here was nearly perfect.)
Everything else about the meal was first-rate. The service was friendly and attentive, with the one glitch (no bread basket with the appetizers) was more than compensated for when we were given a fresh loaf of homemade bread for lunch the next day. Because the staff remembered the occasion of our last visit, we were also comped a tiramisu. At this late date, it's almost as hard to impress with that very 80s dessert as it is with polenta, but it was as good as anything we had. It's also worth mentioning that the price point is very reasonable, particularly considering the wide variety of carefully selected wine options by the glass. Pasta dinners at $15 and most of the entrees $25 or less is not out of line with Italian restaurants in the area that aren't nearly as accomplished.
At least on the basis of our two visits Cafe Capriccio still merits its reputation.