In a city with a thriving restaurant community, Capriccio is an anachronism. Unlike many of the arriviste bistros in the Federal Hill section of Providence, “The Cap” has been serving great food in the heart of the city for 40 years. Like the wine in the restaurant’s extensive cellar, Capriccio has aged magnificently.
I last dined at Capriccio some 20 years ago, when it was the “go to” restaurant in Providence. Cleaning out my desk recently I came across a gift certificate to The Cap I had received from a grateful client 15 years ago. I gathered my dining companion and made the short drive for a weekend in Providence, hoping they would honor the certificate after all these years, but prepared to pony up my own hard earned cash for a good meal.
I need not have worried. The dog-eared gift certificate was welcomed as if it were brand new. And I need not have worried about the food or service at Capriccio. It was as good as – perhaps better! – than ever.
Capriccio has an elegant, old world, upscale atmosphere that makes people want to dress for dinner. Starting with the spacious awning stretching across the front of the restaurant, you enter a bygone era with rough-hewn stone and brick walls, low-beamed ceilings, and wonderfully understated mood lighting. I love mood lighting.
It usually comes as a pleasant surprise to me when a restaurant’s wait staff is attired in crisp black tuxedoes. But that is exactly what I expected at Capriccio, as it fits the style and atmosphere. The European style service was formal and attentive, without being overbearing.
The food was as exceptional as the service. We started off splitting a special of pasta and veal meatballs in a Bolognese sauce. The pasta was as advertised, perfectly prepared al dente. A great start, followed by a Caesar salad which was cold and crisp, just the way Caesar intended it be served.
Having enjoyed the preliminaries so much, we were challenged by our entrees. My dining companion selected veal piccata with delightfully prepared, very thin veal. I chose a porterhouse pork chop that filled the plate. The memory of the past from our appetizers still strong, we both ordered linguini as a side dish.
I am of the opinion that the true test of an Italian meal is how much you enjoy the leftovers at lunch the next day. The huge pork chop was just the right size to take home for “seconds.” Unfortunately, I left it behind in the hotel refrigerator, only remembering it when we were nearly home. I almost turned the car around and drove back to retrieve it.
Memories are often more lustrous than reality. Which is why I was delighted to find that my experience at Capriccio has not been dimmed by the passing two decades. My latest visit has rekindled a love affair, and I will not allow 20 years to go by before visiting again.
2 Pine Street
Providence, RI 02903