By Todd Barron @ FoodieCuisine.com
Risorante Capeo on Main Street in North Little Rock, happens to be one of my favorite restaurants, and I’ve even had a few birthday dinners there. One could say I’m biased, but I’d say I just know what I like, and Risorante Capeo is a place I like, a lot.Risorante Capeo, or Capeos as it is known, is located on Main Street in North Little Rock, and has seating for around 80 people, spread across two dining rooms.
The dress is business casual and you should make reservations before going. Granted, you can make reservations the day of your outing, but make them unless you don’t mind waiting.White linens, tablecloths, and candles, make up the decor, along with exposed brick walls, and a general rustic yet classic theme. They have a nice wine cellar you can go down into if interested, and pick out a bottle of wine.
They also have a small, yet inviting bar, that is next to the open kitchen, where you can enjoy a cocktail, while watching the chef, and wait for your table (or even eat at the bar if you so wish.) It is a great place for special occasions, or for a date night out, away from the kids. Expect your bill to come out around $150 (with tip,) if you consume alcohol, and around $100 if you do not.
Their menu doesn’t change much but they have daily specials if you are a regular, looking for something new. The appetizers consist of items such as tuna loin, fried octopus, fried fish, bruschetta, duck confeit, grilled meatballs, stuffed eggplant, and the hunter which is a variety of Italian meats along with homemade sausage.
On my visit I ordered the Grilled Meatballs ($9,) which consists of four tender pork and chicken meatballs, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, on top of greens, and with shaved Parmesan cheese. The balsamic vinegar gives the right amount of tanginess to the dish, and a provided lemon, adds a perfect acidic flavor. Overall, the meatballs are wonderful, and I never leave the dish empty.
I also had the special of the night, the Rollitini ($N/A,) which is mozzarela rolled around proscuitto, herbs, and topped with balsamic vinegar. It’s hand-rolled and tastes great. The mozzarela is fresh and the proscuitto adds a hint of saltiness to the dish, that is rounded out by the tangy flavor of the balsamic. The fresh greens on top round out the texture and add a nice element. I order this special just about every time they offer it.
Aside from the appetizers, you can order a first course (Primi Piatti,) and a second course (Second Piatti.) Generally speaking this is more food than one person can eat, and I suggest at most, you split the Primi Piatta with a dining partner. The first courses, consist of pasta dishes primarily, with items such as spaghetti carbonara, lasagna, fettuccine Alfredo, risotto, and tomato soup.
For my Primi Paitti, my wife and I ordered the Risotto ($14.50,) with which you are allowed three ingredients for it to be cooked with. Risotto, is a creamy rice dish, and my favorite blend consists of Parmesan cheese, shitake mushrooms, and prosciutto. Risotto take a while to make, so you should expect your dinner wait to increase if you order this first course.
The risotto is creamy, without being soupy, and the prosciutto adds a wonderful richness to the dish. The parmesan cheese provides a needed flavor boost, and the mushrooms complete the experience with their firm, yet giving, texture. I love the Risotto and order it almost every time I go. If you do order it, I suggest you order it with the ingredients suggested. I’ve seen people order it with ingredients I do not recommend, and their experience varies greatly (and not in a good way.)
The second plate, or Second Piatti, consists of a protein choice, with items such as the elk chop, ossobucco, chicken picatta, chicken marsala, duck valentine, beef tenderloin, lamb, veal scallopini, and baked halibut. The only dish I’ve had that I didn’t care for was the Elk Chop ($55.) Not only is it high in price, but it is a bit tough for my liking, and the flavor is very strong. Your mileage may vary, but it’s not something I recommend.
For my second course, I ordered the Beef Tenderloin ($39,) cooked Medium Rare. If you order it, and request it Well Done, then why are you reading my blog? Do you like shoe leather at $39? Kidding aside, order it Medium Rare and you get the full amount of flavor, without it being too chewy. The beef tenderloin, consists of a large steak, topped with goat cheese and grilled shitake mushrooms.The tenderloin they offer is one of my favorite in Arakansas, and also happens to be a favorite of mine from any state I have visited. It was cooked perfectly, pink on the inside, with a perfect brown crust on the outside. The goat cheese adds a great flavor and creamy texture to the meat, and the mushroom provides that familiar firm texture.
Tenderloin, itself, does not have a lot of flavor, but the seasoning and cheese provided make it a really good dish. I have a hard time not ordering it when I go.No meal at Capeo is complete without dessert, and they offer dishes such as white chocolate cream brulee, tiramisu, panna cotta, gelato, chocolate cannoli, and some dessert wines. I’m not a big fan of most of their desserts, but the tiramisu is the best one around (in Arkansas or out.)
I of course, ordered the Tiramisu ($7,) which is homemade, and has a great crust to it.The crust is firm, yet giving, with a hint of espresso, and with the right amount of creaminess to it. Layers of lady fingers, soaked in espresso, make up the stack you receive, with whipped cream and marscapone rounding it out. The dessert is topped with cinnamon, and the whole thing is just sweet enough to taste like a dessert, without being so sweet that you can’t finish it. It’s my favorite dish at Capeo and I don’t think I’ve ever eaten there and not ordered it. Sometimes I even get it to go if I’m too full.
If you have not been to Ristorante Capeo, you are missing out on one of the best dining experiences in Arkansas, and need to go. I’ve never been disappointed there and bet you will enjoy it.