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Feb 12, 2011 02:57 PM

Capri Eagle Rock-post Kitchen Nightmares

Even though it's close to the house due to a huge service gaffe a few years ago Capri had been near the top of the "never agaiin" list. The joint was recently remade on Kitchen Nightmares and my teen son convinced me to check it out for lunch. Interestingly, there was a big line outside of what I feel is the hugely overrated Auntie Em's two doors down and we were the only diners at Capri. They have a lunch special which is salad and either lasagne and pizza. The regular menu is greatly reduced and extensively modernized. There was no other pasta ready although the waiter did offer to see if the cook could scrape some up. I wasn't hugely hungry so we decided we'd share the $15 lunch special. They were very happy to make a vegetarian version of the salad and modify the pizza as well. The cook and waiter were genuinely friendly. My kid said the new decor sort of looks like a barbecue joint and I actually missed the funky old school former look. They've got chairs with muslin covers, plastic table cloths and the walls are decorated with empty picture frames. On the show they always have this huge build up when the owners enter the restaurant after Ramsey's grand makeover, go all gaga and blubber. The show airs in March and I can't imagine the owners on this particular episode responding with much more than a "meh." That said, the food is enormously improved and we'll definitely go back. They should indicate on the menu that the $15 lunch easily feeds two. Actually, we took the leftovers home and fed the other hungry teenage boy. The ginormous salad was really nice with roasted fresh artichoke hearts and not over dressed. The pizza was super thin crust and perfectly cooked. My only issue was that it had fresh tomatoes of the flavorless commercial variety but the regular menu has a number of really interesting sounding pizzas so the bland tomatoes are easily avoidable. The iced tea was freshly brewed and eagerly refilled. The show is really formulaic and Ramsey's buffoonery makes it a guilty pleasure but in all fairness, the fare at Capri is tremendously improved and we wish the twins well.

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  1. My husband and I ate there last Friday. The restaurant was mostly full, but we were able to sit down right away.

    Regarding the renovation: I also miss the funky old atmosphere. I can see why they would rearrange the seating chart, they can now seat many more diners. I've never seen Kitchen Nightmares or eaten at Ramsey establishment, but I've got to say I found the Capri's new decor slightly dated, like circa 2003.

    I have to say, our experience was negative enough, that we'll never be back. The service was terrible. Yes, the restaurant was mostly full, but my water and my husband's soda never got refilled. Once we got our server's attention, she would grab one (never both!) of the glasses, refill it, and then dash on her way. In addition to the water and the soda, we ordered pizza dough ties and the chicken with potatoes, and a lasagna. (I wanted a salad, my husband did not. Our waitress explained that salads are now served bigger, and pointed out a sleigh type dish at the neighboring table. So, no to the dinner salad, then...)

    At the 40 minute mark we still had not received our appetizers. Again, we managed to find our server and ask if there was a problem with our order. She said "They haven't been dropped off yet?" And then sped on her way. Ten minutes later she was back, and told us that the kitchen had messed up, but our appetizers and mains were just about to come along. We cancelled the appetizer order, to her surprise. As we waited for our dinners we watched other diners gently refuse misdirected food, and one of the neighboring tables complain they felt they were getting rushed out.

    I didn't care for my chicken dish. The chicken was cooked with rosemary in olive oil, with some boiled fingerling potatoes. The whole effect was very yellow, with no crispy bits. My husband ate most of his lasagna, but lamented the end of the cannelloni from the old menu. Our drinks continued to be mostly empty throughout our meal.

    We had a wait for our bill, our waitress reappeared long enough to tell us about the kitchen staff being short. (Don't care!) We paid and made our escape.

    2 Replies
    1. re: cjla

      does your husband still lament the cannelloni since the airing of the episode

      1. re: celfie

        We haven't been back.

        I just looked at their website, the cannelloni is off the menu.

    2. curious- were there any gluten free items on the menu by any chance? brown rice pasta or gluten free pizza crusts? that may prompt me to try the place, but from everything i've heard i don't trust it, even with the makeover. can't wait to see the show though!

      1. We used to like coming to the Capri. It had that old school, cheesy italian restaurant vibe. The food was good, especially the capri colossal pizza. Last month we came in and it had totally changed. They said they were on the Kitchen Nightmares show and had retooled the restaurant and menu. Well...the closest thing to the capri colossal pizza was there Meat Lovers pizza. It was pretty good. But the lasagna was not good at all, I had just fallen in love with their baked pasta and it was no more! Tried again, this time the garlic knots were burned and the BBQ Pork pizza was not good! I miss my old beloved Capri! I'm going to go back one more time since I have a gift certificate. I'm keeping my fingers crossed!

        Capri Italian Restaurant
        4604 Eagle Rock Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90041

        1. I'd say that the makeovers on kitchen nightmares are a positive thing less than a third of the time. Most often, they look like what they are - a rush job with mostly prefab components and one thin coat of paint.

          The Capri was absolutely AWFUL the first time I tried it - pre Ramsey. Everything tasted like it came out of a can. I grew up eating in places like this in the NYC area and Capri paled in comparison to even the most mediocre of them. Anyway, I guess I'll give the new Capri a shot but I'm not holding out much hope based on what I've read here.

          Oh, and I sincerely hope they don't add gluten free items to their menu as that would put the final nail in the coffin of their old school neighborhood Italian restaurant vibe.

          1. My husband always liked to get take-out pizza from Capri. We haven't tried the post-Ramsay pizza yet, but we did stop in for a dinner: spaghetti and meatballs and the (meat) lasagna. We both thought the lasagna was excellent. The single portion came baked in its own ceramic dish. I liked that it was cheesy and decadent in all the right ways but didn't feel too "heavy".