Capri: Behind the Review

This week's cafe review of Capri praises the little Italian restaurant in Spring for its many virtues: housemade pasta and mozzarella cheese, excellent service, a cheerful and cozy dining room and its generous no-corkage-fee BYOB policy.

I found out this week, however, that the BYOB policy may soon change as Capri has applied for its liquor license and is also in the process of expanding its dining room (good thing, too, as it's already got a healthy crowd on weekends).

For the time being, however, you can enjoy the BYOB policy and bring your own bottle of Sangiovese to enjoy. Or, you can do what we did on a recent Saturday evening and bring your own bottle of malt liquor.

Sadly, I ran out of room in the review to expound upon this decision. So here's the backstory.

My dining companions and I that evening didn't realize that Capri had a BYOB policy. So when we showed up empty-handed but thirsty, the helpful waiter informed us that there was a convenience store just a few hundred feet away that sold wine. My cousin leaped immediately from her chair, grabbed her purse and was gone for a good 20 minutes.

When she returned, it was with a face that registered triumph, mischief and a slight sense of shame all at once. There seemed to be two bottles of wine in the white plastic bag she clutched, but she was quick to hide their labels when she brought them out of the sack and onto the table.

"Listen," she said. "They only had warm Merlot and Chardonnay. And I am not going to drink either one of those."

"So," she continued placidly, "I got us some Boone's Farm."

There was a beat while we tried to decide if she was kidding or not.

She turned one of the bottles to face us. "See? You can't even tell it's not wine." My boyfriend blanched.

"You really brought Boone's Farm into a restaurant?" he hissed at her. He turned and looked to me for some form of support, for me to tell her to put that hooch back in her bag and pretend like this hadn't happened.

But blood (and Boone's Farm, for that matter) is thicker than water.

I gamely opened one of the screw caps and sniffed the contents of a bottle called Mountain Berry. It smelled like Kool-Aid made with moonshine. I found out a few minutes later when the waiter brought wine glasses without a second look at the bottles that it tastes much better, like a cheap bottle of sparkling Rose. In a wine glass with the bottles hidden, it even looked like it too.

My boyfriend refused any pours of the Mountain Berry all night, softly shaking his head in disbelief each time I raised a glass to my lips. But despite our poor choice in alcoholic beverages for the evening, I had to give credit to the amiable waitstaff who turned a blind eye to the hooch.

Of course, toward the end of our meal, the malt liquor had warmed to room temperature and its less appetizing aromas and smells became far more pronounced. "Okay," I said, finally defeated. "Now it's starting to taste like I'm licking a chalkboard." Luckily, I still had a few tender bites of Capri's tagliatelle al salmone left to cleanse my palate. And dessert was still to come.

For more photos from Capri and its bright, open kitchen, check out our slideshow.

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Katharine Shilcutt