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May 15, 2007 09:32 AM

Il Capriccio - I don't get the hype

Lots of postings about this place being great and the food being some of the best (if not the best) Italian in Metro-West. Four of us went on Saturday night and it was a joke of a meal. I had a mushroom souffle that was tasty but not too well presented - looked like burned mush within burned cheese. We also ordered the short ribs over gnocchi that was - in flavor and texture like beef stew - not very good beef stew. I had a rabbit canelloni that was dry and the canelloni was like a wonton wrapper, not a pasta. Dad had a slop of lasagna that he said was "meh". Service was mediocre, she seemed a little annoyed and put upon when we asked if she could try for a corner piece of lasagna. I have no clue how this place has ever received such good reviews. Anyone else have a similar experience?

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  1. I have never had a bad meal at Il Capriccio. In fact, I have been there dozens of times and every meal has been consistently superb--not just great, but superb. On each occasion the service has been gracious, there is a stand-out wine list and sommelier, and food that is carefully prepared with quality ingredients. How to explain your experience? It sounds very disappointing, but also extremely unusual. It's worth giving the restaurant another chance.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Sweetbread

      I know, I was suprised myself! I forgot to mention the creme brulee! The custard was literally vanilla pudding with a carmelized sugar crust. I don't know how the screwed it up so badly - overcooked, undercooked, underchilled? Regardless, the texture was completely wrong.

      I live in Southie and went out there because it was close to a friends house, I have to say there is no desire to go back - too many other great places to eat that get it right (or at least closer to right) the first time.

      MC Slim - I tried for La Campania but no availability, I'll go for that next time I'm out that way.

      1. re: Sweetbread

        I'll echo Sweetbread -- I only went once, but it was amazingly good. Got the ricotta stuffed zucchini flowers, which were deliciously mouth-filling without being the least bit heavy, and the lobster/baby spinach risotto, which was creamy with a very compelling flavor. And the service was fully professional. Went there a little less than a year ago.

        Maybe Missykins encountered them on an off night? Though MC Slim JB seems like a knowledgeable and trustworthy fellow, and I'd take his observation seriously -- if he's indeed right, and he may well be, I'm glad I got there when I did. T'would be a shame, as I was major league impressed back then.

        1. re: bachslunch

          To be fair, I've long called Il Capriccio one of my favorite high-end Italians in Greater Boston, worth the trip to Waltham -- and always sung Jeannie Rogers' praises while so doing. I had one disappointing experience recently after a lot of years of very solid ones, going back to the days when they were in that little storefront on Prospect Street (now a decent, pretty little Thai place)..

          The good news is that instead of repeating some longstanding praise of IC in a bit I was doing on Waltham for The Dig, I gave La Campania another chance. That place had done a whole lot of evolving since my prior visit, when it had been doing a far more rustic, simple menu, and the refinement and breadth they had attained in the meantime kind of blew me away. LC also has a pretty impressive, mostly Italian wine list, but with far fewer of the one-of-a-kind, quirky wines that Rogers seems so adept at ferreting out. But I'm glad I had the chance to give a relatively new place some ink. Il Capriccio is probably far better known at this point.

      2. I have to say I was disappointed on a recent visit by the look of the place -- it could stand some freshening up, looks kind of worn and tired -- and the menu, which was less innovative than I remember from prior visits. Its greatest asset remains the incredible sommelier and the list she puts together; she's one of the greats locally. However, I think the kitchen has been surpassed in recent years by La Campania down the block.

        1. I had the following thoughts about the choices from the menu:

          Short ribs over gnocchi - they probably added it recently because it has become pretty standard at a number of restaurants - it's not "real" Italian food - skip it...

          Rabbit canelloni - Bunny?! Hmm...I can't eat bunny!...skip it...

          Lasagna - it's just the sort of thing that tastes better homemade to me...skip it...

          Just joking with ya, but I actually thought people had raved about the grilled meats / steaks at the place? Any sign of those?

          1 Reply
          1. re: Bob Dobalina

            I had posted some time back about my experience at il capriccio..... gave it two shots and my wallet twice.... Never again. Four of us went the first time.... just two of us the second. I just can't get past the snotty-ness, and the incredible fanfare of presenting three gnocchi on a dish. I do recall the lasagna dish having such a "crispness" to the edge of the noodle.... and recall a salmon the size of a "shrimp". I love the white glove treatment once in a while, but these folks noses are literally stuck in the ceilings.... they need to come back down to earth.

          2. It’s interesting how there can be very different perceptions of a place. I have been there many times in the last 10 years or so, and like it for an upscale, but casual meal. One of the highlights to me has always been the service—polite, efficient, always there when you need them, but unobtrusive. They usually are very well-informed about the food, as well. The last time I was there—last Friday, in fact--I asked about the gin and the server gave a nice accounting of several atypical varieties (I selected the Plymouth for my martini!). On that night, I had an exceptionally tasty crispy chicken and spaetzel dish after an artistically arranged and light tuna carpaccio and calamari antipasto, both of which had an innovative mixture of taste and texture. Two of us had drinks, appetizers/salads, main courses and a glass of wine for a little over $, including tip (20%). Yes, the place could use redecoration, but the ambience is quiet and pleasant overall.

            1 Reply
            1. I haven't eaten at Il Capriccio for at least 2 years, but my experiences there have always been pleasant. The waitstaff went out of their way to be helpful and the food was excellent. I'm sorry to hear it has slipped.

              1 Reply
              1. re: cheryl_h

                It's good just not great. I have had wonderful meals and not so wonderful meals there. My absolute favorite thing that they make is the lemon mousse with candied lemon peel. It is expensive especially for Waltham. For those prices you can eat in Boston at a chef super star restaurant.