Dining: Capri in Natrona Heights delights diners with simple, homemade Italian dishes
Customers walk into the small, bustling Capri Restaurant along Freeport Road in Natrona Heights and immediately feel welcome. Aromas of freshly baked foods waft through the air tempting palates with the promise of delicious, homemade Italian food.
No sooner than your party is settled into a booth or table, drinks arrive, and the feasting begins.
The Capri Restaurant in Natrona Heights has been in business for 21 years, and the Barone family has the routine down pat.
From 1991 until '98, Capri was located where the former Howard Johnson's restaurant was in Heights Plaza.
Throughout the years, the food selection has remained the same — large portions and all. This is homemade Italian food prepared from scratch daily by all the family members who work there.
The Capri is a family restaurant where customers like their food, and ample quantities of it. As one diner noted: you won't ever go home hungry from this place.
The glass entryway splits the restaurant into two dining rooms filled with tables and comfy booths.
In the past, we have enjoyed the pizza available at Capri, but we were here for dinner and passed on the pizza offerings to focus on the rest of the menu and its homemade platters. We can already vouch for how good the pizza is.
The entrees were created — and prepared, in most cases — by momma Caterina, a talented woman in her 70s who was born in Naples, Italy, and returns there every summer for a few weeks with her family (Hence, the Capri was closed from July 29 to Aug. 20). While in Italy, she looks for new trends in Italian dishes that she can add to the menu when she returns to Capri's kitchen.
“We use simple ingredients, and that's the key — everything's fresh,” owner-manager Fiorella Barone says. All the meals are based on her mother's recipes and made from scratch every day.
While we waited for a dinner companion to arrive, we ordered Fried Zucchini ($5.75) and Fried Mushrooms ($5.75) to share. Both were served with marinara. The slender lengths of zucchini were breaded and crispy. The same breading coated the mushroom buttons.
The fresh salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, ripe olive slices and red onions was large enough to satisfy our hunger without ever touching the entree. That didn't stop us from sampling our platters though. Caterina's homemade Lasagna ($12.50) was large enough for two meals. The portion was the size of a large brick, but there was nothing heavy about these layers of noodles stuffed with ricotta cheese and meat.
The basket of fresh bread that accompanied our meals was homemade and still warm. We passed out the whipped butter cups and were in heaven.
The Grilled Salmon Platter ($17) featured a filet of salmon that was marinated in a balsamic dressing and arrived on a bed of sauteed spinach. For our side potato, we selected fries. We also had a bowl of the homemade wedding soup filled with large meatballs, spinach and acine di pepe pasta in a savory broth. Barone says she is sometimes surprised by how popular soup is, even in the sweltering heat of summer, but every day a new batch is made.
Turns out, we enjoyed one of Capri's most popular meals, the Roasted Red Peppers and Chicken ($13), a spicy mix of sauteed chunks of chicken and strips of red pepper over rigatoni with marinara.
We also opted for the homemade Ravioli ($12), stuffed with cheese and covered in sauce.
There are homemade desserts on the menu, too. But we had no more room to indulge. As it was, we came away with plenty of leftovers. We do wish we would have taken home a couple of large Cannoli alla Siciliana ($4.25) or Limoncello Cake ($4.25), among other selections. Next time.
Rebecca Killian is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-46649 or email@example.com.