Capricciosa Ristorante Italiano - The People's Choice for Family-Style Italian Dining
Restaurant Review by Ken Stewart, The Guam Food Guy
"Capricciosa means capricious in English." Capricious means whimsical, fantastic, irregular and even unrestrained. It's possible to take this definition to heart when describing this authentic Southern Italian restaurant! After all, the portions are "fantastic" and so large as to appear anything but "regular," although I've been told by management that every ingredient is measured and weighed for consistency - that's precision control for you! The atmosphere and ambiance is light and cheerful - in fact, I don't recall seeing a single frown or scowl on anyone's face...everyone seems to be smiling or laughing (must be in the air!). The service from the wait staff was quite good and I'd say that they showed no "restraint" in assuring that we received attentive service and were satisfied with the entrees.
Capricciosa Ristorante Italiano has two locations in Tumon, one in Pacific Place across from the Westin Resort and the other in the Royal Orchid Hotel, just across from Pacific Islands Club. I must confess that I'd not eaten at either, with the last meal I had being in their former location, at which time I recall having a spaghetti sauce that I considered a little too sweet for my taste and had formed an impression that deprived me of enjoying any of Capricciosa's other offerings. Well, today I was to make up for years of lost opportunity, since I was able to partake from a wide selection of Capricciosa's more popular dishes, all of which I thoroughly enjoyed during our lunchtime feast.
We started out with the appetizers...the menu itself is an oversized hard poster board that is both fantastic and irregular! Vince, our waiter, exuded confidence and sincerity and gave me the impression that we'd known each other for ages. This was going to be a fun meal. The Italian Mixed salad ($11.25) arrived first. It was served in a large bowl and fresh grated mozzarella cheese covered the top of this hearty salad. It had slices of salami, tomatoes, olives, bell peppers, lettuce and a pleasant Italian dressing. There were 3 of us (me, Lynn and Yu). It's important to know that Capricciosa is a "family-style" dining experience, which means the portions are usually enough for 2 or more people. This is especially important when you look at the prices on the menu. All entrees appear to be expensive, when actually, they are large enough for at least 2 people to share. Vince measured out salad for 3 small bowls, with more than half remaining.
The Escargot in garlic butter sauce ($13.25) was delivered next. It was baked and served in an escargot casserole. There were six pieces that were accompanied by two large stacks of toasted bread. This escargot was pricey, however I was told that it was a higher quality snail. I did like how it was prepared and served, however, since I've eaten escargot at most of Guam's better restaurants, it's too hard to tell the difference in quality. I don't think anyone else bakes their escargot (it looks as though it's finished off in a Salamander Broiler (special commercial broiler).
Our next entree was from the Pizze (pizza) menu. We ordered the Margherita (tomato, cheese, & basil - $11.80) and we'd requested a thin crust rather than crispy crust. Other pizzas on the menu are the Capricciosa (salami, bacon, mushrooms and bell pepper), Marinara (tuna & clams), Acciugle (anchovies, garlic & black olives) and the Calzone (stuffed with w/cheese and salami). The pizza was about 10.5" round and was a sight to behold. Each slice had a sliced Roma tomato that was covered by basil pesto. Melted mozzarella cheese and marinara covered the top. Evenly sliced, each piece exploded with flavors with each bite. It was a good meatless pizza. Our garlic toast was delivered ($1.95). It's French bread sliced in half and cut again...then topped with a garlic butter spread that baked to a sun-yellow brightness in contrast to the darker, unbuttered edges. Another over-size portion. (who's complaining?)
From the Al ala carte ("Caldi") section of the menu, we ordered the Lasagna "Capricciosa style" ($15.50) and the Linguine w/Salmon in light cream sauce ($17.50). The Lasagna came in a large ovenware casserole dish. It's good that they qualify this lasagna as "Capricciosa style", since it is totally different than the traditional layered lasagna one would typically expect. Capricciosa's lasagna is saucier, making it less solid and more molten, its high temperature liquefying the cheese. Once the expectation for traditional lasagna is by-passed, this version is quite good. It's the same ingredients, just composed with different proportions.
I've heard only rave reviews from people who've had the Linguine with salmon. It's not possible to imagine any other reaction once you've had this delectable combination. The salmon is specially prepared and of a high quality. The linguine is cooked al dente, with a cream sauce that barely coats each noodle with its fresh, light cheese taste. We each had a portion of this. I kept thinking to myself, how could one person really eat the entire bowl - this was a lot of pasta and a substantial piece of prime salmon fillet. It took time to finish this dish. Most people reaching this point of fullness would probably have taken half of this dish home in a doggy bag.
There are many other entrees on Capricciosa's menu, among them are nine spaghetti dishes and four "Carni" (meat) and Pesci (fish) dishes, including Spicy Grilled Chicken w /rosemary ($17.50), Beef Tongue in Tomato Garlic Sauce ( $15.95) and their "Original Flavored T-bone Steak" ($20.95). Several vegetarian dishes grace their menu, with a Fettuccine w/Green Olives in Tomato Sauce ($14.95) sounding quite good - and they use spinach fettuccine! One of the most popular dishes is the Calamari and Onion in Squid Ink Sauce ($15.50). I've not had it, but this is one that everyone who's had it swears by it! I can easily see how one would need to visit Capricciosa many times in order to try different menu items.
It was time for dessert and of the four selections available, we had the wildly popular Homemade Pumpkin Pie ( $4.50) and a half serving of the Vanilla Ice Cream (did I hear "Dryer's"?) with Hot Blueberry Sauce ( $3.75). This had a little rum in it for flavor...it was another experience in itself - incredibly good! The pie had the consistency of fresh sweet potatoes...that's what I would have thought unless they were carving up fresh pumpkins...they told me that they brought in a special type of canned pumpkin for these homemade pies. The whipped cream on top was formed into "snow banks"! The rich, thick, solid white foam was lightly sweet and was the perfect complement to the pumpkin below. Both were fabulous desserts. They ought to serve these while you're on a treadmill!
The Kid's meal is available for $5.95, and has every kid's favorite - spaghetti!
Capricciosa's open Monday - Saturdau, from 11:30 am - 10:30 pm and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Since we were having lunch, we didn't have any wine or beer. For dinner, I'll probably have a Chianti with my next meal. It's totally understandable how and why Guam's people have a love affair with Capricciosa Ristorante Italiano - it's because family-style dining reflects our sense of family and hospitality. Another good reason is the generous portions of good food...served so that no one ever says, "I didn't get enough!" You will always get more than enough great food at Capricciosa Ristorante Italiano!