2013-04-17 / Restaurant of the Week

Capriccio Ristorante Italiano

Capriccio’s bright, corner location rests at the intersection of Francis Lewis Boulevard and 29th Avenue in Bayside, but the aroma from the wood-burning oven fills the air and beckons you into the lovely dining room. Gleaming tile floors, whitewashed stone walls accented with warm hues of terra cotta and soft lighting surround tables dressed in crisp, white linens. Capriccio opened a year and a half ago by Francesco Brunetti after years of success in the restaurant business on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Francesco has been written up by Gourmet Magazine and New York Magazine and now, brings his recipes and expertise to Queens and we couldn’t be happier. So was the family of 18 people, gathered at Capriccio for a celebration. Even I was accompanied by two young dining companions who enjoyed everything on their plates. My nephew proclaimed, the pizza at Capriccio is handmade and cooked in a wood burning oven. The pizza I sampled was the signature Capriccio’s pie. The crust was light and crispy and topped with a beautiful arrangement of fresh prosciutto, artichokes, mushrooms, and black olive slices. The prosciutto added a nice flavor that complemented the blend of everything else. Delicious!

We started with pizza as an appetizer to share and continued with two of Brunetti’s suggestions: braised endive and radicchio filled with creamy goat cheese, and shrimp Capriccioso, which are plump, jumbo shrimp wrapped in paper-thin slices of zucchini, topped with a sublime cognac sauce. Both these dishes were expertly prepared and served hot with warm bread and focaccia from the wood burning oven to soak up all the delicious sauce. Baked clams are another popular choice or fresh, tender calamari prepared crispy and fried or sautéed with light marinara sauce, onions and peas ($11.50). Eggplant rollatini are filled with fluffy ricotta and topped with fresh mozzarella and Brunetti’s fabulous tomato sauce ($9.75). House made soups such as classic pasta e fagioli and minestrone are available every night to warm your soul. Freshly tossed salads are composed of fresh ingredients including arugula, artichokes, endive, mushrooms, goat cheese and more to create inventive salads to start your meal.

Choose one of Capriccio’s pastas as a “primo” to be followed by an entrée, or as your entrée alone. My niece described Francesco’s homemade gnocchi as “One of the amazing dishes I had. The tomato sauce alone was to die for, and the gnocchi had the perfect, firm, but tender texture. The entire dish was just plain delicious.” Indeed Capriccio knows pasta and the fettuccine Fiorentina is made with homemade ribbons of pasta with light cream sauce, prosciutto and chopped spinach ($14.50). Linguine alle vongole is classic clam sauce, prepared with white or red sauce, while spaghetti and meatballs will please even the pickiest eater. Orecchiette Barese is a dish from Francesco’s native city of Bari, and is one of my favorites; “little ears”of pasta are tossed with sautéed broccoli rabe, sausage, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil for a satisfying dish that will leave enough for lunch the next day ($14.50).

“Secondi” include meat, chicken and fish dishes prepared with the finest ingredients. Our fish of the day was incredibly fresh and moist Branzino Pugliese style, topped with mussels, zucchini, cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs. My companions and I made short work of mopping up this delicious dish. Tender cutlets of chicken or veal are prepared with sweet Marsala sauce and mushrooms, Francese style with butter and lemon, or Parmigiana style with melted mozzarella and tomato sauce. You’ll also find chicken Forestiera, sautéed with sausage, peppers and leeks, and classic chicken scarpariello with white wine, lemon, garlic and rosemary ($17.50). You’ll even find a tasty steak, sliced and served with mushroom sauce over arugula, or a juicy pork chop sautéed with tomatoes and mushrooms.

Whatever you do, save room for Capriccio’s homemade Italian ricotta cheese laced with chocolate chips. The tartufo ice cream treat, tiramisu, or crunchy, creamy cannoli all go well with a cup of espresso.

Capriccio Ristorante Italiano is open six days a week for dinner only. They are closed on Tuesdays, so visit Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Sunday from 4pm to 10pm, and Friday and Saturday from 4pm to 11pm. Family gatherings are happily accommodated and the food is buonissima. You’ll be glad you came and street parking is easy. Buon appetito!

29-02 Francis Lewis Boulevard
Bayside, NY  718.445.2333

www.capricciorestaurant29.com

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