Based on its South Boston location, I expected Capo to serve standard red sauce dishes or corned beef and cabbage ragu. Instead, my husband and I experienced a menu and restaurant design that married olde timey Italian tradition with modern elegance.
We were seated in a roomy wooden booth in Capo’s grand front room, surrounded by exposed brick walls and dark wood accents. A large stone fireplace flickered beside the open kitchen in the equally spacious back room and perfumed the entire restaurant with the welcoming smoky scent of a ski cabin. A long bar, buzzing with 20 and 30-somethings, extends the entire length of the restaurant with high-top tables positioned a few feet behind. This sibling of Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant and Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar, Capo is fast becoming part of Southie’s “scene.”
Looking at the menu of Bar Sfizi small plates, Salumi & Formaggi, Antipasti, Pizza, Entrees, and House-Made Pastas sections, it was clear that Capo’s chef Tony Susi puts intriguing spins on authentic Italian dishes. We chose to try a staple, Chicken Parmigiana, as well as taste small portions of the Rigatoni Bolognese with ricotta salata and the Malfalde with sausage, broccoli rabe pesto, and sweet peppers.
The restaurant was fairly busy but our server delivered the drinks and meals in a timely fashion and she also had the forethought to split our entree for us. The chicken was crisp with a thin coating of breading, juicy, and not greasy. It sat atop a small pool of vibrant tomato sauce which was prominent with the acidic fruit but lacked a touch of salt. A proportional topping of melted cheese was perfectly stringy when pulled with a fork and complemented the other flavors of the dish. Entrees at Capo are a la carte and served without pasta but the portions are plenty substantial, especially related to the moderate prices.
Both house-made fresh pasta dishes had us raving, literally yelling at each other because of the noise level that resonated off the brick walls and cushionless benches. My husband is a self-proclaimed bolognese aficionado and ventured to say it was one of the top two he’s ever tasted. Beefy in flavor and texture, the sauce enveloped the al dente noodles with a mild creaminess. Sharp bites of ricotta salata rounded out the experience. The curly edges of the malfalde cradled the herbaceous broccoli rabe pesto and at first bite I found it slightly bitter. My next taste included the red pepper condiment on top and it transformed the dish with a bright, acidic sweetness.
Upon my next visit, I look forward to trying the Cioppino shellfish stew with chili flakes, fennel, and potatoes. It looks like a mountain of briney goodness.
Capo is located at 443 West Broadway, South Boston. For reservations call (617) 993-8080, or visit caposouthboston.com.