A proven team pulls off yet another success.
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Georigi and chef Michael O’Hare (who you will remember as the original chef-owner of Caffé Bellissimo in Wilmington, then head of Roux 3 Restaurant in Newtown Square, Pennsylvania) aim for simple food that is approachable, inviting and uncomplicated. Certainly, the concept of Italian food can encompass a broad variety, and O’Hare and Georigi were wise in dialing it back a tad. Where Roux 3 was stylish and ambitious, the focus at C&L is quality, everyday ingredients, usually no more than five or six per dish, that speak clearly and harmoniously on the plate.
That’s not to say the Capers & Lemons menu isn’t sophisticated. You usually won’t find amatriciana, calamarata or agnolotti on the menus of your neighborhood ravioli-and-meatballs, red-checkered-tablecloth Italian joints. At Capers, there’s plenty.
Accessibility also ties into the decor, handled by Georigi’s wife and business partner, Lisa. (Carl and Lisa equals Capers & Lemons? Hmmm.) The main dining area is appointed with prints and oversized vases, and when the lights dimmed at 6:40 p.m., it gave us a chance to notice the huge earth-toned hanging lamps, shaped into concentric rings. (Picture chandeliers made from whiskey barrels, but cooler.) The show-stopping wine bottle fountain at the entrance has already worked its way into local lore. It’s probably the glitziest of C&L’s decorations.
I was enchanted from the get-go. On my first visit to Capers during a cold and rainy night, we were seated directly in front of the pizza station. Not only was it warming and delicious to smell, I felt like I was riding shotgun. Whatever warm and crispy thing came out of that oven, I had to try.
Out first from the wood stone station (that’s Wood Stone, not wood fire, as in the line of commercial cooking equipment, though this one is gas-powered) came a flatbread topped with caramelized, balsamic-infused onions, roasted red peppers, pesto and house-made mozzarella. The thin, crispy crust was delicious. There wasn’t a touch of bitterness or brittleness. The mozzarella is worth mentioning because Georigi and O’Hare learned the secrets of making it directly from Lou DiPalo, third-generation owner of DiPalo Fine Foods, a revered Italian market in Manhattan.
Next was the basilica pizza, with more pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, goat cheese and Kalamata olives. The pie—which, at $14, is about the same price as a large from Papa John’s—was tangy and light, with lemony accents from the goat cheese getting extra pop from the briny olives.
Page 3: Great Capers, continues...