Where: Ristorante Capeo (425 Main Street, North Little Rock)
The Restaurant: Capeo, led by chefs Brian and Eric Isaac, has been a favorite of area Italian food lovers for many years. The restaurant, possibly due to its NLR location and special occasion/date night feel, sometimes tends to fall a bit under the radar.
The Atmosphere: This is one of my favorite aspects about Capeo. They keep the lights dim and with its warm, cozy interior, Capeo delivers an atmosphere perfect for either a romantic dinner or one filled with close friends and family. Station yourself at the tiny bar for a pre-meal drink and peer into the open kitchen where the organized chaos will almost mesmerize you.
The Service: The service is superb—expect a knowledgeable, attentive server to find that perfect bottle of wine for your table and to know every aspect of the menu with relative ease.
The Food: While there are a few misses on the menu, like the fried sage leaves, the good certainly outweigh the average. Start your meal off with The Hunter ($12), a wonderful plate of Italian meats and house-made grilled sausage or the delicious stuffed eggplant ($9). Fans of lasagna ($13) will adore Capeo’s take on this classic dish. It’s without question one of the best versions in the Little Rock area. The pork chop ($28) is not to be missed; it’s cooked to perfection and finished with a brandy and butter sauce. If you have room for dessert, consider splitting the ultra-creamy tiramisu ($8) or the bitter chocolate mousse ($8). Both are sure to please.
The Price: It’s expensive. Most entrees sit in the latter $20s to mid-$30s with the beef tenderloin hitting $42. But again, this is a classy place, perfect for a nice night out. The wine selection is fantastic but getting a bottle can easily push the price of the meal to at least $100 per person.
The Verdict: Granted, we don’t have a tremendous selection of elite Italian restaurants in the Little Rock area, but Capeo definitely falls into the upper echelon (think Bruno’s Little Italy, Vesuvio Bistro and Zaffino’s) of choices. If you’ve never checked them out or it’s been a few years, I highly recommend giving Capeo a try.
The Info: Open Monday-Saturday 5 p.m.-10 p.m. Reservations available. 501-376-3463.