Italians don’t go half-hearted into anything, they’re either into it or they’re not. And there’s no in between. Think Ferrari, Lamborghini, Alfa Romeo, Zinedine Zidane, Valentino Rossi, The Colosseum, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Luciano Pavarotti… let alone their heritage of cuisine, and that’s what I’m here for.
‘I’ve done most of the handy-work myself’ says co-owner and founder of ‘Capriccio’, Michele Rispoli. He’s also designed the menu, spends time in the kitchen and runs the floor, talk about a 25-hour day and talk about passion. He’s been open since just September ’15 and things are going well.
He brings me a ‘Grazia D’, a new Italian boutique beer fresh off the boat and soon to land on a few shelves around Sydney I’d imagine. It’s got a different taste to other lagers, which is refreshing.
Michele discretely napkins me while I sit at a bench table along with classic cutlery, a kind of vintage/modern crockery and water glass. The shelves in the dining room house a few plates and the low hanging lighting sets a certain ambiance. Nonna has been here it seems…
I’m presented with a trio of ‘beginnings’; a wood-fired emulsion-dressed oyster with crispy eschalot and samphire, house-made ‘canollo’ stuffed with mortadella, balsamic and pistachio and a tasting of chicken liver pate; they’re all bite sized samples of items available from the menu and they’re all really tasty.
The classic ‘prosciutto e melone’ is served along with a house-made 72-hour wood-fired rosemary focaccia. The honeydew melon has an organic honey infusion while the rockmelon is a ‘sour’ champagne and vinegar, these coupled with freshly sliced prosciutto layered on crispy focaccia and there’s some serious flavours and textures happening. He asked me how I was going; I asked him what was next.
Diced capsicum, King Salmon and Goat’s cheese was the answer. Fresh fish with a crunchy vegetable and soft cheese with a drizzle of olive oil makes for a light meal in itself and is also a great appetizer. ‘Can’t get no Satisfaction’ plays gently through the speakers, I’m half way through this menu and ‘On the contrary’, I say, Sir Mick.
I took a brief tour upstairs to where the functions are held, ‘This dining room is very popular and needs a few weeks notice for function bookings’ notes Michele as he points out the floor that he sanded back, and the walls he painted; however he humbly admits the ‘octopus tentacles’ and artwork were painted by an artist friend of his.
Back on my stool downstairs and the signature main course dish arrives: ‘Passatelli alle Vongole’. The ‘House Pasta’ is made with breadcrumbs, egg, parsley and parmesan- he then explains (through elaborate hand signals) the ‘mincing’ process of the pasta through a chamber resulting in the ‘braided’ pasta which is then cut to size, creating a firm on the bite, soft on the chew texture. The vongole couple with the zesty lemon dressing and passatelli resulting in a uniquely Italian savoury flavour. It certainly is the dish to go back for.
While serving the final course the ‘cappuccino’ dessert, he briefly runs me through his family’s history of restaurateurs on the Amalfi Coast in Italy. It’s a game they’ve always been in, and passionately so. He’s learnt the trade and has certainly put on an authentic experience where even an Italian would feel at home. Bravo!
Disclaimer: Sydney Chic dined as a guest of Capriccio and thanks them for their hospitality