No Blues for This Baby

A dreadful decade in downtown West Palm leaves Capri Blu miraculously unbeaten.

I'd skip the salads next time. A "classic" caesar ($11) felt burdened by its heavy coat of grated parmesan — we would have preferred a lighter touch, incorporating ingredients into a balanced dressing of mashed anchovy, Worcestershire sauce, and egg yolks. (Still, opinion was split. The 15-year-old loved it; her mother didn't.) A Lombarda salad ($12) of mixed greens, gorgonzola, and walnuts with balsamic vinegar and a few leaves of endive was good but not stellar; the endive seemed tired, browning at the edges. These are tall prices for salads, anyway.

But Amadeo Tasca is a genius with pasta. Along with the superb tagliolini al limoncello, we polished off a plate of gnocchi alla Sorrentina ($20) so youthful, fresh, and delicate that it made all the other gnocchis of our days seem bland and bloated. These were big mouthfuls, helium-light, tossed in a tart fresh marinara sauce laced with basil. With a handful of grated parmesan, it was food for gods and angels.

Secondi piatti arrived. A whole snapper ($32) had been exactingly grilled; Berni expertly filleted the animal tableside. With no more than a touch of olive oil, lemon, and wine, it was one of the finest fishes we've ever eaten — a textbook example of why piscine pulchritude needs no frills, just a few crunchy, buttered vegetables alongside. (Describing this special earlier, the restrained Berni had hardly been able to resist kissing his fingertips.) Skillet-cooked chicken (petto di pollo in padella, $19) nested among earthy, juicy mushrooms, olive-oil-infused eggplants, and tomatoes, with cushions of fresh, melting buffalo mozzarella. A special veal scaloppini with mushrooms ($22.50) had been pounded within an eighth-inch of its life and was served in an unctuous Marsala sauce.

Joe Rocco

Location Info

Map

Capri Blu Ristorante Italiano

251 Sunrise Ave.
West Palm Beach, FL 33401

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: West Palm Beach

Details

Open for dinner only during summer, 5 till 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Opera nights every Monday in season; special engagements in July and August. Closed Friday, May 12, for a private party. Call 561-832-4300.
116 N. Dixie Hwy., West Palm Beach

Less successful were pesce alla Positano ($26), snapper fillet sautéed with onions, tomatoes, and herbs that appeared to have been overcooked (this might have been a singular mistake), and a wishy-washy cannelloni in red sauce ($21.50) that left no clear impression.

A pair of fine young waiters, sleek and handsome as Siamese cats, carried out our desserts (each $7.50). Semisweet, lemon-scented ricotta cheesecake tasted exactly the way I remembered it from years of Easter holidays with Philadelphia Italians (a treat I found, at 16, almost impossible to stop eating — and still do). It tastes like textured, cooked cream with vague notes of burnt caramel. Imported peach and lemon sorbets, the flavors of Roman summers, are served, charmingly, in hollowed-out peaches and lemons with little fruit lids. A buttery, flaky fruit tart came filled with sweet-tart berries. Tasca has injected some soul into the exhausted concept of tiramisu; he soaks his ladyfingers in brandy and Kahlua and layers them only with the sweetest, lightest, mascarpone cheese ("beaten, and beaten, and beaten," Gracie says). Elegant and delicious.

The service at Capri Blu, orchestrated by Berni — whose lugubrious enthusiasm for, and deep knowledge of, the cuisine he's serving is palpable — is some of the best in the city. No wine glass remains unfilled; no plate sits empty; pacing is measured and sedate. This is a restaurant for relaxed family dinners, for romantic tête-à-têtes, a place to be welcomed, soothed, and well-fed. The buildings around it could be falling in heaps, the whole city crumbling to dust, but you get the feeling no catastrophe will ever ruffle the surface of these azure waves.

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