A week ago, one of my co-workers alerted me to an incredible deal; Dino’s Capri restaurant (6325 Falls of Neuse Rd., Raleigh, NC 27615) was holding a special night where their menu would be at 1964 prices. Now, I love Italian food, so hearing I could get a full meal with pocket change was too good to pass up. However, as the state got a snow smackdown, it seemed like we’d need to rough it out for good food. That would be the theme for the night unfortunately.
It was cold and snowy night and the roads were completely iced over. Plus, I was feeling sick, but was trying to keep my eye on the prize. We finally made it to Capri and walked to the door, but there was something blocking out way; mainly the huge glut of humanity who also thought a night out was a good idea. Throughout the hour standing in line, Tony and I just kept telling ourselves it would be worth it, it would be worth it.
Before we were seated, we noticed that there was a raffle for a Veteran’s organization outside of the restaurant, but we didn’t think anything of it. We also saw a well-dressed man go from group to group and introduce himself, but we assumed he was a host or maitre’d. To our annoyance, the 1964 deal seemed to be an unadvertised event in support of a local politician, who spent most of the night going from table to table trying to talk to people while they ate. Now, I’m not going to discuss this guy’s politics, which are opposite to my own, but I found it extremely tacky to basically trap people with free food to listen to some guy sell his politics and get them to vote for him. The fact that the politician was also consistently in the way of the waiters while they were attempting to feed a huge crowd was a sore spot for me, since I’m a former waitress.
Outside of the political slant of the evening, it was hard to really get a feel for the restaurant. Since this was obviously a special night, the wait staff was harried and frantic. For example, our drinks came out way after Tony and I finished our appetizers. Normally, this would have made major points taken off, but considering how many people tried to serve, I was willing to forgive our waiter. I was happy to hear that people around us were regulars, so I told myself to just focus on the food.
First, the good. The bruschetta was outstanding; the toast was too tough, and the tomato, garlic, and basil topping wasn’t too strong on the garlic but still had a bite to it. I had the lobster ravioli and was happy to find that the ravioli was perfectly cooked and the lobster inside wasn’t tough or chewy at all. Tony’s veal marsala was cooked nicely as well.
Now to the bad, our main courses as a whole suffered from a lack of seasoning in its sauces. The tomato cream sauce for my ravioli needed salt and tasted a little tinny. Tony’s marsala sauce and the meat sauce on our shared penne dish was bland as well. Overall, while the food wasn’t bad, it wasn’t amazing either. You can go to any decent local Italian restaurant and find the same quality. Plus, I love to order a glass of wine with my meal, but the night only offered a glass of house red, the rest of the wine list only offered bottles. In the future, possibly for a corking fee, it might be worth it to buy your own bottle at the Fresh Market next door.
On our way out though, I did get why so many people came back and became regulars. The owner and the guy in the title, Dino, came over to me and introduced himself on the way out. I watched him serve table after table during the night and he was charming and seemed to genuinely enjoy being out among the people and see them eat. The fact that in the middle of a busy service, he still made time to make sure we had a nice night was impressive.
Leaving on that note made me want to come back. I’d want to see how the food works when it isn’t rushed to get a better idea of what Capri has to offer. Maybe I’ll wait until after the elections though to book a table.