By Jim and Marilyn Tortolano
There are a lot of Italian restaurants in Orange County. You might even say there is a mob of them. But, for our money, the capo di tutti capi [boss of all bosses] is Capone’s Cucina in Huntington Beach.
The original Al Capone would be proud to dine in this immensely satisfying eatery that is styled – tongue-in-cheek, of course – after the great paisano bad guys of history and cinema. In addition to the name, one wall is decorated with colorful images of the original Capone, Marlon Brando as “The Godfather” and Al Pacino in “Scarface.”
What makes Capone’s Cucina special goes far beyond its cheeky branding. The food is sublime and consistent; the people there – especially chef and owner Dino Ferraro – are warm and responsive. The mood hits the sweet spot between comfortable and elegant.
It offers a wide and delicious array of appetizers, soups, salads, pasta, pizza, chicken, beef, veal and fish dishes as well as a low calorie menu. The wine list is impressive and the help knowledgeable if you don’t know a merlot from a moscato.
Our favorite meal there starts with the Bruschetta Capone (seasoned diced organic tomatoes with garlic on grilled ciabatta bread), followed by one of their six salad choices, topped off by the pollo marsala. That’s a wonderful pan-roasted chicken breast with creamy marsala sauce, mushrooms and pasta.
If you’ve still got room after all that heaven, they’ll show you a tray full of knockout desserts. We’ll take the canolli.
Always a great place to celebrate or take the family or a date, Capone’s is even more impressive with its recent expansion, which gives everyone a bit more breathing room and updates the ambiance. The full bar and enclosed patio complete the picture for a wonderful dining experience.
Our only warning is to get there early, especially on weekends. Capone’s does not take reservations, so for dinner arrive by 4:30-ish or risk a wait. There are many regulars here who dine every week, and the crew welcomes them with hugs and warm greetings.
As if that’s not enough, there are two sister restaurants, the Black Trumpet and Mona Lisa, for a slightly different take on the cuisine of Italy. Catering services are also available.
While the food at Capone’s is high-end, the prices are relatively moderate for such great food. The pollo marsala was $18 and a margherita pizza is $14. So you can have a wonderful meal without feeling you’ve – pardon the expression – been robbed.
Capone’s Cucina is located at 19688 Beach Blvd. (just south of Yorktown) in Huntington Beach. Hours are lunch Tuesdays to Fridays from 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner Tuesdays to Saturdays 4-10 p.m.; Sundays 4-9 p.m. Closed on Mondays. Website: http://www.caponescucina.com .
Categories: Arts & Leisure