Monday, June 02, 2008

Feels Like Home

A good friend of mine who now lives in Florida came back for a visit and, as he almost always does, put together a group to have dinner at Capucine's, my favorite Italian restaurant.

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Now I have written about Capucine's before. In fact it was stop number 514 on my journey through 1000 bars. I used to live just a couple of blocks away and probably ate there once a week back then. Even after I moved to Brooklyn and still worked in Manhattan I would pop in at least a couple of times a month. Now, sadly, my visits are less frequent. But that doesn't stop the owners and staff from treating me like family whenever I show up. Maybe I over tip.

This trip I was spotted while I was still outside and taking a picture.

Watching From The Window

And sure enough, once again I was welcomed like family.

A Warm Welcome

I got here a bit before my dinner companions so I decided to have a drink at the small, but adequate, bar while I waited.

Bar Man, Bombay Martini, and Daryl the Bartender

As it turned out, Daryl and the fellow who greeted me at the door now own Capucine's. The previous owner retired but I am glad to see the same people are involved with the restaurant, although Daryl is new. I chatted with her about all sorts of stuff including Paris and Rome where I am headed later this week. She also makes a great martini.

I told Daryl that I had been going to Capucine's since 1982 when I lived in the neighborhood. I just found out that was when it opened. I guess we kind of grew up together.

The service here is always great, warm and friendly as well as efficient. And they make everyone feel at home, not just me. It really is a nice family restaurant a short walk away, corner of 19th Street and 2nd Avenue, from the more expensive and "fashionable" Gramercy Park establishments, many of which are also very good.

Capucine's is fairly small. The bar only seats about four people and the restaurant is divided into two separate rooms. It is pleasantly decorated with pink walls, and pretty flowers. Just a comfortable place to eat.

The food has always been top quality in the southern style. For appetizers we had the clams casino which the Mysterious Chinese Woman always orders so you know they must be good. My friend from Florida had the beef carpaccio and he just loves it. I often get it too and it is great. Someone else had the stuffed artichoke and I had grilled calamari which was outstanding.

I ordered my favorite which they had for a special as they often do. It was veal stuffed with eggplant, prosciutto, and mozzarella cheese. Just delicious and so tender you can cut it with a fork. The Mysterious Chinese Woman had the deep-fried soft-shelled crabs and although she didn't eat the legs she said they were quite good. She never eats the legs, too crunchy I guess.

I don't remember what everyone else had, but from the way they tucked into their meals they must have enjoyed them. I was too busy having a good time to take notes and now, of course, I regret that.

We all shared tiramisu for dessert and I also had an espresso with a Strega for a nightcap.

Let me simply say that I think everyone should try this restaurant, as long as you don't all go when I want to. It really is a throw-back to the old-style Italian restaurants that you don't see too often anymore.

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