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Oct 6, 1999 10:11 PM

What is the story with Capo?

  • b

Is this place any good? I know it is expensive, but is it really great? Will I get better food at Drago or Valentino for less? What should I expect if I go there? What should I order?

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  1. j
    jonathan gold

    I really like Capo, but perhaps more for the exquisitely beautiful room than for the cooking, which while precise, is really closer to good, minimalist dinner-party food than to classic Italian cuisine. It's quite expensive (though not nearly so expensive as Valentino), and quite clubby--I often feel as if I'm crashing a party when I show up there for the soup of pureed herbs with snails or the sauteed char--but also extremely comfortable.For serious Italian cooking in Los Angeles, try Vincenti in Brentwood.

    10 Replies
    1. re: jonathan gold

      Vicente has me puzzled, I have read many positive and negative comments about Vicente. Positive comments seem to come from the people that let the chef create the meal for them, cost no object. Dissapointed people ordered off the menu. I really have to try it for my self. Citrus is always highly praised but there are many misses on their menu too. I went with a group of 4 and one meal was extraordinary and the other 3 were average, no big deal food. Cienega has many misses on their menu too, but their lobster ravioli is the best I have ever had.

      1. re: Bob
        Tom Armitage

        If you've read previous posts on Los Angeles restaurants, you know that I'm a big fan of Vincenti's, and think that the chef there, Gino Angelini, is the best Italian chef in L.A. For the record, I've never had Gino create a meal for me. I have always eaten off the menu, with marvelous results. The few occasions where I've had special meals created for me, off menu and with cost being no object, were at Valentino (with someone else footing the bill, by the way). The results were amazing--particularly one meal where the owner, Piero Selvaggio, was asked to create a meal around some spectacular bottles of wine. I'm still dreaming about that meal and those wines. But Vincenti's is where I go when I want to be sure I'm going to get great authentic Italian cooking off the menu.

        1. re: Tom Armitage

          Do you remember any specific dishes that stand out at Vicente? With all of the positive and negative comments, not everything must be a hit. So far we have hog jowls...

          1. re: Bob

            Bob, I'll be happy to suggest some specific dishes that I have enjoyed at Vincenti's, but since I'm now in Barcelona, I'd prefer to wait until I get home and check my notes, rather than rely totally on memory. In the meantime, however, I have remembered a category of food at Vincenti's that is pretty unpredictable, and that is the spit-roasted meats. A few years back, when Mauro Vincenti was still alive, he installed a wood-burning spit-roaster with great fanfare in his then restaurant Rex Il Ristorante. In the restaurant's excitement over its new toy, the waiters pushed the spit-roasted meats pretty hard. Unfortunately, I often found them overcooked and on the dry side. At Vincenti's, the new home for Gino Angelini's cooking, the wood burning spit roaster is prominently in evidence, but you probably won't see any meats being cooked on it. Why? Because they were cooked previously and are now in a warming oven. What you will see Gino fussing over on the spit roaster is whole fish. I had a white salmon cooked on the spit one time, which Gino was constantly checking, that was absolutely wonderful. But the spit roasted meats--particularly if they have been "holding" in the warming oven--can be a disappointment. Perhaps some of those who found the food at Vincenti's disappointing went for the spit roasted meat. Just a thought.

            1. re: Tom Armitage

              Thanks for the warning. When will you be back from Barcelona? I am going there Saturday Oct. 16th.
              So now my itinerary is Hog Jowels and White Salmon Rotisserie. My curiousity is peaking. My one experience at Rex was a major disappointment. Tough lamb chops, a dried out black truffle/chicken roullade, and fruit jello for dessert. (it was a tasting menu) When I commented that the lamb chops could not be cut with the knife provided, he brought me a sharper knife. Hopefully Gino was on vacation. Thankyou for your suggestions.

              1. re: Bob

                Yikes, your experience at Rex sounds terrible. No wonder you're gun shy about Vincenti. I won't be back in Los Angeles until Sunday, Oct. 17, the day after your dinner at Vincenti. So here are a few tips based on my experience. Concentrate on the more interesting looking, less standard, appetizers and pasta dishes. I happen to like the tripe, which is cooked very traditionally and is delicious. Last time there I enjoyed the soft scrambled eggs topped with asparagus sauce and strips of guanciale (the house-cured hog's cheeks). If it's on the menu, I can also recommend the pumpkin/squash lasignette. Another source of guanciale is the bucatini all Amatriciana, rich but worth the calories. There are many other good and interesting pastas. The pidgeon, if available, is usually good. Gino has a nice touch with fish, either cooked on the rotisserie (usually a whole fish for two or more people) of in the wood fired oven. I rarely eat meat entrees at Vincenti. In fact, I often make my meal out just with the appetizers, pasta, and desert. Hope this helps. I'll be interested to hear how things go for you. By the way, is Gino going to be in the kitchen on Saturday night? He's sometimes away in Italy.

                1. re: Tom Armitage

                  Thank You, Thank You, Thank you.
                  I will definately let you know how it goes.

                  1. re: Tom Armitage

                    So, just where might one purchase guanciale in LA or up north in the South Bay? I have checked out all of our specialty, gourmet, and quality butcher shops with no success. Located a source in Rome; however, they do not ship to the US.

                    Thanks in advance for source suggestions.


                    1. re: susanna ivey

                      See my response to your "Guanciale" post.

          2. re: Bob
            jonathan gold

            The way to go at Vincenti is to order things you've never heard of before, or to ask the waiter to recommend dishes close to chef Angelini's heart. (He is from coastal Tuscany, but the restaurant serves a fair selection of the usual banalities.) Order anything that includes the house-cured guanciale, hog jowl, and ask the waiter to be candid about the day's roast meats, which are often spectacular but sometimes, alas, not so. Other Los Angeles Italian restaurants that can be extraordinary include l'Arancino, the best new-Sicilian restaurant in America.