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Capri in Spring

Little restaurant outside town turns out spectacular Italian food.

In fact, heaviness doesn't seem to come into play in Capri's talented kitchen. Thankfully. Even the lasagna was like something from a dream, a nodding-off sort of nap you'd have after eating too much mille-feuille. Each layer in the lasagna was gossamer-thin and fine, and so wispy you'd barely expect it even to convey any flavor: the savory Italian equivalent of that thousand-layered French pastry. Far from being as heavy and meat-laden as other lasagnas, this Bologna specialty was a downy display of beautifully handmade pasta and velvety ricotta.

Like my wonderfully al dente tagliatelle, the lasagna noodles are made fresh at Capri every day. The kitchen also makes its own pappardelle, gnocchi and ravioli, and uses De Cecco pasta for other items like penne and farfalle. So while the "pizza" may well no longer be a part of the equation here, the pasta blissfully is.
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That gnocchi is probably the finest pasta that Capri makes. Just barely covered with a thoroughly rich four-cheese sauce perked up by that blue-veined bite from some pert gorgonzola, the gumball-size potato dumplings have just the right texture: chewy without being gummy, dense without being heavy, fluffy without being insubstantial.

The gnocchi have just the right texture.
Troy Fields
The gnocchi have just the right texture.

Location Info

Map

Capri Pasta Pizza and More

25602 IH-45 North, Ste 101
Spring, TX 77386

Category: Restaurant > Italian

Region: Outside Houston

Details

11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturdays.
• Burrata: $8.95
• Calamari: $9.50
• Gnocchi al quattro formaggi: $17.95
• Lasagna: $11.95
• Tagliatelle al salmone: $17.95
• Penne alfredo: $12.95


READ MORE: • See a slideshow of Capri's bright kitchen.
• Capri, behind the review


Capri Pasta Pizza and More

25602 I-45, #101, 281-298-0055.

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As luck would have it, I found myself eating gnocchi twice in one day last week. Once over lunch at Capri — whose inexpensive lunch specials are yet another reason I wish it was closer to town — and then again at a dinner at Tony's for food writer John Mariani, the Italian cuisine connoisseur and Esquire correspondent who just published a seminal book called How Italian Food Conquered the World. I didn't tell Mariani about the sweetly homespun Capri with its Imola-inspired mosaics, all done by Barbara Coglianese herself; I don't think it's his kind of place. But I did find myself pondering the differences between the gnocchi served at Tony's and those at Capri.

At Tony's, Houston's imperial capital of Italian cuisine, each thumb-size gnocchi is carefully plated and presented with uniform texture and quality. They are all masterfully duplicated identical twins of one another. At Capri, the gnocchi is slightly smaller, less elongated, and has a rough-hewn appearance and feel that almost correspond to the fleshy curve of a hand's palm. The two pastas could not be more different from one another, yet I love them both equally.

This kind of expression through food, especially something as basic as gnocchi, is fascinating, enabling a chef to define a restaurant and its direction with something as simple as the shape of a piece of pasta. I found myself so interested in discussing this idea that, God help me, I started to talk up Capri to Tony Vallone himself, in his own restaurant that same night.

"Have you ever heard of it?" I asked him.

"No," he said with a smile, "but it's a little out of the way."

"You should try it some time," I pressed on. "It's fabulous stuff. The owner is from right outside Bologna, from a town called Imola."

"Ah, Imola!" Vallone replied. "That town is very well known for its food."

After eating Barbara Coglianese's food at Capri, I can see why.

katharine.shilcutt@houstonpress.com

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22 comments
Mrchowlou
Mrchowlou

two for lunch at the capri when i read the review in the houston press. it was by far the worst service and food i have had with such a good review. i had a chicken dish with a lemon butter sause what i received was a boiled peice of chicken with some lemon juice throw over it. i ordered a side salad which came after my entre my friend had spaghetti and meat balls with no meat balls and all the food was just warm. they had one person working the floor which was not enough for lunch. maybe i caught the capri on a off day and i do not know how katharine got such good food. there was a group of six people eating lunch and i noticed that everyone left half their lunch on the plate and did not ask for a to go box. so much for the review

Amber Rozas
Amber Rozas

I'm not sure what day you came or who your server was, but if you will send us an email at restaurant.capri@ yahoo.com and let us know the details of your visit we will endeavor to make it right. I am sorry you had bad service and that your food wasn't what you expected. I CAN promise you that your chicken was not "boiled" but if it wasn't made to your taste we can gladly work together to see that you have a better experience next time. Just put the name "Amber" into the subject of your email. Again, you have our deepest apologies and I hope that you will email us. We don't like our customers walking away unsatisfied.

GlvanSutfin
GlvanSutfin

This is why I read the Houston Press. Little discoveries of dining treasure that I would find nowhere else in the city, well-written, funny and honestly critical.Granted, I don't live in Spring, but I'll drive 35 minutes to enjoy a unique place like this, rather than being a creature of habit, and going through the motions at Tony's again. Hats off, Katharine!

EmilioRom
EmilioRom

Yikes! When I read the words 'fried gnocchi' I thought immediately: that sounds like something Tilman might offer.

Indeed, you are mistaken about that Bolognese fave. Rather than 'gnocchi fritto' which would mean fried gnocchi, It's 'gnocco fritto' that you're referring to, and its popular in the region.

http://winecountry.it/phpfunct...

JoannaIT
JoannaIT

Wow! Capri abandoned its pizza making because the Woodland's folk showed more interest in Cici's Pizza Buffet up the street? Really?

Why am I not shocked? I've even heard these pizza-challenged people talking up the doughy overload that is Crust.

So rather than a good pizza, Capri serves pizza puffs with marinara. Will the tragi-comic goodness from the Woodlands never stop.

Guest
Guest

Not so fast, dude. I'd confidently wager I've eaten more pizza throughout Italy than you have. Not everyone up north is "pizza-challenged," so keep your snide generalizations out of my (newfound) 'burb.

I think some Innerloopers are what we call "tact-challenged."

Philippe
Philippe

Where were you when DaMarco was struggling and weighing the option of skee ball?

JoannaIT
JoannaIT

Great, then you're a crowd of one, JR.

Amber Rozas
Amber Rozas

Sadly, that's exactly what happened. The place started out with homemade sauce, imported Caputo flour, REAL cubes of fresh mozzarella (instead of the powder covered grated stuff) and fresh toppings but people didn't "get" why it looked and tasted so different. The oven was taking up (not to mention heating up) a huge portion of the small kitchen and people were only interested in the pasta which, at the time, could only be cooked on one six burner stove. People wanted faster pasta. So, out went the huge pizza oven and in came another cook top.

Amber Rozas
Amber Rozas

Though to be fair, it wasn't Woodlands folks who shaped Capri in the beginning, it was people from the nearby neighborhoods.

BenjyL
BenjyL

Thanks Catherine, great find. Will have to try it when I'm up that way.

One thing you wrote had me baffled however: "I wonder how differently Capri would have panned out so far if it were located closer to Houston, closer to equally authentic (yet more expensive) joints like Da Marco or Damian's or Patrenella's."

If by 'authentic' you mean cooking that's similar to the best they do in Italy, you'd be correct in mentioning Da Marco; Damian's and Patrenella's less so. They're more Italian-American Sicilian joints closer the Providence RI model.

entire team is babies!
entire team is babies!

If you're going pretend familiarity by using someone's first name, kindly check to make sure you're spelling it right.

Matthew
Matthew

my wife and i enjoy this place. one night, the owner's preteen son was our waiter. he took his job seriously and was as good as any other i've had in recent memory.

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

That's Alessio. He is a real pro, and quite an asset to the restaurant.

Mai Pham
Mai Pham

Looks awesome. Now on my list of must-try's, thanks Katherine!

Albert Nurick
Albert Nurick

I'm so glad that you're bringing Capri some well-deserved attention. Barbara and her staff do a fantastic job there, and more folks need to check out this wonderful little restaurant.

Unlike another high profile Italian restaurant that didn't last half a year, Capri is thriving in the Woodlands even though they've somehow resisted the demands to install a Skee-ball table.

It's a perfect example of how to do an independent restaurant: Find a place with affordable rent, find your niche, take care of your customers, and execute well night after night.

Another wonderful thing about Capri is the genuine warmth of Barbara and her staff. Instead of the disinterest or outright disdain you encounter at some other places, you're reminded that you're a wecome guest every time you cross the doorway. When you leave, you can't wait to go back.

And isn't that what hospitality is really all about?

KyleBrix13
KyleBrix13

You make some great points, Albert. In fact, I agree with all you say. I hope therefore that you will help Caffe Bello in Montrose along these lines. Their execution has been so off lately that I'm tempted to believe the rumors I'm hearing. But instead of them cutting their losses and bailing, I think you could help them extend their stay and become really popular. Or at least stay and lose money over an extended period of time, in order to find their niche.

Gentian32
Gentian32

I don't know about that KyleBrix13. Last time I was at Caffe Bello I received a warm greeting from the hostess, four waiters and an unoccupied bartender, all standing near the door, apparently awaiting my arrival.

And when I left, I got a warm good-bye from this same congregation, as if I were the only customer in the place. Which I might have been. This is indeed what hospitality is all about, and I look forward to trying Capri.

Gwest
Gwest

A restaurant? In Spring? Gosh. if only there was someone, anyone, who could get us up to date with what The Buzz® is on the place, and whether or not said buzz is very interesting.

Hannah
Hannah

The Buzz is a shitty radio station, it's not very interesting.

 
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