A popular West Allis Italian restaurant closed in December 2012 after being in business for 40 years. I have a friend who would drive from Oconomowoc just to buy lasagna from Capri Restaurant, 8340 W. Beloit Rd.
A year after closing, Chris Paul – along with wife, Abby – acquired the restaurant after a friend living a few blocks from Capri persistently encouraged him to do so.
Paul has worked in the restaurant industry since his teen years, when he started as a delivery driver. Over time, he learned the cooking aspect and has recently been working to perfect the most popular recipes he inherited from the previous owner, as well as developing his own recipes for the menu.
I was pleased with the initial round of remodeling. Wood laminate floors and a light beige paint job really brightened up the dining room. The lower half of the walls had light stained wooden panels supplementing the new clean appearance, and a mural just outside the kitchen contributed a warm and comforting feeling.
Along with the new changes, some of the old furniture remains. Many of Capri’s original regulars are attached to the booths, loose benches and all, so it may take some time to replace them. I think it’s a nice gesture and smart business move to keep the customers of the former restaurant happy.
Outside, the exterior of the building received a fresh coat of clay colored paint in just two days, thanks to the efforts of a couple of employees. Black awnings with Capri di Nuovo printed in white font hang over the large picture windows, but the original Capri sign at the side of the road remains, for now.
Paul told me that future plans include repaving the parking lot, adding a patio, and replacing the roadside sign. He’s also in the process of adding a few specialty pizzas and new entrees to the menu.
The staff at Capri di Nuovo makes its own bread dough and pizza dough from scratch. They also make their own pizza and pasta sauces.
The menu consists of soups, sandwiches – such as an Italian beef and sausage combo – appetizers, pasta, and Italian specialties including shrimp parmesan and linguini with clams.
Appetizers that caught my eye included Motorroco dip made with tomatoes, basil, olive oil and parmesan cheese, and a 5-cheese plank with five Italian cheeses breaded and fried. I would go back just for those two menu items.
Capri di Nuovo’s pizza crust options include thin, thick, pan style, and a Chicago style stuffed crust. The thin crust is available in 10-, 12-, 14-, 16- and a family sized 18-inch crusts, ranging from $7 to $14 for a cheese pizza.
The thick crust, pan style and Chicago style crusts are available in 10, 12, and 14 inches ranging from $9 to $13. Toppings cost $1 to $2 for standard toppings and $1.25 to $3.50 for premium toppings such as Canadian bacon, tomatoes, spinach, pineapple and shrimp.
I started with a sausage, pepperoni, and mushroom pizza on thin crust.
The edge of the crust had a cracker crunch while the center of the pie-shaped slices were softer but remained firm as I lifted them. The strength of the crust was likely helped by its density. I prefer a thin crust with a light, airy texture. I think some experimenting can get this crust to that texture if Paul chooses to go that route.
Paul starts with a tomato puree for the sauce, then adds his own seasoning blend followed by ground tomatoes for texture, which perhaps brought out the fresh tomato taste I experienced. I think more sauce would have helped offset the dense texture of the crust, which surprisingly did not seem dry, so bonus points for that.
Capri di Nuovo uses fresh mushrooms, and the sausage and pepperoni are sourced from Greco meats, which has a Waukesha location, although based out of Chicago area. All of the toppings had good flavor and complemented the thick, delicious layer of cheese.
It’s been a while since I had a Chicago-style stuffed pizza, so I ordered one topped simply with Italian sausage.
The crust is spread into a round pan, topped generously with sauce, several layers of cheese and Italian sausage. Then a layer of crust is added to seal the pie, and a thick layer of sauce is poured over the crust, flowing over the edges just a bit.
Again, the slices were strong enough to pick up without flopping over or breaking apart. I picked up a slice and took bites as if eating a sandwich until the tasty sauce made the task a bit messy, in a good way.
The pan style crust lacked the buttery or oily texture and flavor I’ve often found with Chicago style crusts, but again, it wasn’t dry. There was enough moisture, for my taste anyway, to allow me to enjoy the pie without feeling the need to wash down each bite with a sip of water. The dense texture worked well here. The ample portion of sauce played a key role in my enjoyment of this pie.
Of the two pies, I preferred the Chicago style, which is never the case with me. I am a Milwaukee style thin crust fan through and through.
For those of you wondering, I confirmed that the thick crust is essentially a double thin crust and the pan style is the Chicago-style minus the top layers of crust and sauce.
The service on my visit was very good. My server was friendly and attentive, and Paul made his rounds checking in on guests, while the cooks that he trained handled kitchen duties.
I’m intrigued to see the small changes to the menu and try the new items. I’d also like to taste how well Paul did recreating the delicious lasagna recipe that he inherited and spent time trying to perfect by working with the family of the previous owner.
Even though Capri di Nuovo just opened on March 10, it seems the restaurant is off to a good start. I believe the former customer base will provide a foundation and Paul’s desire to create a positive dining experience will help grow the customer base.
Currently Capri’s old website is up so be sure you are calling the Capri di Nuovo listing when you search online. I expect a new website as one of the future projects, but for now, you can follow them on Facebook and learn about nightly specials to help plan your visit.
No Talkbacks for this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Rick Rodriguez
Published Oct. 1, 2014
I googled Magellan's upon getting a recommendation and learned it offered the self-proclaimed "best pizza in Waukesha." I haven't had great experiences with Waukesha pizza, so I figured I'd give this place a visit.
Published Sept. 3, 2014
Early last year, there was quite a bit of buzz over the transformation of Palermo Villa into Divino Wine and Dine, 2315 N. Murray Ave., and equal buzz about Dean Cannestra taking over the space after closing his previous venture, Libiamo.
Published Aug. 6, 2014
I started working for my current employer six years ago. A few months after I started, one of my team members invited us all over to his Sussex home for a Packers party. Among the popular party foods were pizzas delivered from a nearby pizzeria. The pizza was good enough - and the name was catchy enough - for me to remember them both all of these years later.
Published June 4, 2014
Rick's search for the city's finest pizza offerings takes him over to Mario's Italian Grill, a remodeled George Webb's near the airport.
Published May 7, 2014
This month, Rick Rodriguez's endless pursuit for the perfect pizza took him to Crossroads II, home of pizza, subs and ... hot ham and rolls?
Published April 2, 2014
I've been hearing about Tenuta's, 2995 S. Clement Ave., in Bay View from a few friends over the past few years, so I thought I'd finally pay a visit.
Published March 5, 2014
Palermo's updated its cafe at Pizzeria 3301 with a wood-burning oven made in Italy using ashes from Mount Vesuvius and by sending its executive chef to Washington to become a certified pizzaiolo. But does the pizza live up to these lofty measures?
Published Feb. 5, 2014
Maybe I should have started with the Caradaro Club, but better late than never.
Published Jan. 1, 2014
Nine years ago, an office discussion turned to favorite pizzas, and a co-worker announced that his favorite pizza was Lalli's Pizza, 8826 W. North Ave. A couple of weeks later, I tried Lalli's pizza, and I really liked it. I recently visited Lalli's Pizza again, and I enjoyed the pizza as much as I did on my first visit, which speaks to their consistency.
Published Dec. 4, 2013
In my last job, I spent some time on Milwaukee's Northwest Side and drove past a few businesses that looked to have some history. One of them was Mama's Pizza and Italian Cuisine.