Don't let the strip mall location fool you. Step into Capri, and you'll find a warm, welcoming restaurant that ranks among my top choices for Italian dining in the Southland. It's not hip or trendy. It's family friendly and the décor is a bit old-fashioned, but it's certainly romantic enough for a date night.
Impetuous fools that we are, my wife and I rarely make reservations when we dine out. On the half-dozen Saturday nights we've visited Capri, we've had to wait from 40 minutes to an hour for for a table. But when we're lucky enough to find a seat in the smallish bar area, we're happy to wait. A huge glass of house wine for a nifty $5.50 makes waiting a pleasure.
Generous portions at very reasonable prices begin with the wine and extend to the food at Capri. My wife and I love their bread and olive oil. The dinner salad with a house vinaigrette is unspectacular (there's a choice of soup, too). They sometimes are too generous with the house dressing, so we've learned to request it on the side. A better choice might be to forgo the dinner salads and instead split a Capri Salad, which features artichoke heart, sundried tomato, salami, prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, black olives, red balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese and olive oil.
On our most recent visit, I thoroughly enjoyed the baked lasagna. There's no vegetarian lasagna choice on the menu, but the meat in my lasagna was on the light and mild side. The portion was large enough to provide leftovers, but I was especially hungry after an even longer wait than usual, so I cleaned my plate.
My wife was thrilled with a chicken and pasta special that featured a very tasty tomato sauce. She was full after eating less than half of the enormous portion, and we had a great leftover meal the next night.
On previous visits, we've agreed that Capri's stuffed shells are one of our favorite entrees anywhere, an irresistible mix of cheeses and sauce. I've had Capri's chicken marsala several times, and consider it to be a great choice. The menu features an extensive choice of pasta, chicken, veal and fish dishes. My wife and I aren't dessert eaters, but the chef-made tiramisu was tempting.
We've always found the wait staff to be knowledgeable and engaging, and hostess/co-owner Daniela has been genuinely friendly and accommodating.
For six years, Capri has called Palos Heights home after leaving Oak Lawn. Owners Daniela (Donna?) and Maurizio Mancuso, of Orland Park, specialize in southern Italian cuisine. Maurizio is the head chef. Donna's family owned the original Capri in Berwyn.
On our recent visit, my wife and I were seated next to a large and boisterous group, and we struggled to hear each other talk as we conferred on what to order. As soon as I saw another table open up, I asked Daniela if we could move, and she arranged it in seconds flat.
Capri was featured on the fifth season of the WTTW (Ch. 11) restaurant review show "Check Please." There's a link to a clip of that show on Capri's website.
Capri Ristorante Italiano
12307 S. Harlem Ave.
Lunch: Monday-Friday, 10 a.m-2 p.m.
Dinner: Monday-Saturday, 4 p.m.
Sunday, 3 p.m.
Parking: Strip mall parking in front of and in the rear of the restaurant.