Capitano, Carlton

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MELBOURNE | Capitano is the latest restaurant from Banjo Harris Plane, Casey Wall, Manu Potoi and Michael Bascetta, who between them have involvement in popular Melbourne food and drink spots Rockwell & Sons, Above Board and Bar Liberty. It housed in the space that used to be home to American dive bar themed bar The Beaufort and Ike’s Rack Shack, and puts the focus on simple, Italian-American food.

The space has been given an extensive makeover. The Beaufort was all about dark interiors, boarded up windows and pirate paraphernalia, but Capitano is about lightness and warm tones. The interior features lots of ivory and maroon, terrazzo tile flooring, and has a casual diner with art deco flair feel. A low hardwood divider near the centre of the room creates a distinction between the main dining space, and the high tables and bar behind it.

The menu is inspired by the by the Italian-American restaurants found in the USA, and the food that North Carolina-born Wall enjoys eating on his days off. The star of the menu is the classic cheese pizza – a blend of fresh and aged mozzarella, tomato and pecorino atop a 48 hour fermented base. It’s a perfect exercise in simplicity – the base is springy with just the right amount of ‘chew’, the crust is nice and charred, and the quality of the toppings is allowed to shine. You can add a variety of toppings to your pizza if you want, things like fennel salami, anchovy, and pickled chilli. There are a few other pizzas on the menu too – for example the nduja which features tomato, Calabrian chilli, provolone piccante, aged mozzarella, and pecorino.

The rest of the menu is made up of a few snacks and vegetable dishes, two pastas, two ‘big plates’, and two desserts. Snacks are a simple affair of things like prosciutto, olives, and mortadella, and this simplicity carries over to the vegetables dishes. Try the new potatoes with celery pesto, egg and bottarga, or the beetroot with brown butter and macadamia. The menu rotates with the seasons, so don’t expect to see the exact same thing every time you visit.

For pasta it’s Chittara, a thin ‘guitar spaghetti’ with clam sauce, butter, parsley and lemon, and our favourite, the Vesuvio. Vesuvio is a short, curly pasta common to the southern region of Campania, Italy and is perfect for holding the delicious vodka sauce (the pan is lined with vodka before cooking) of tomato, chilli and cheese. For big plates the offering is bone-in veal parmagiana and meatballs, while dessert is either blood orange granita (with or without Campari) and a delicious tiramisu with whole hazelnuts.

Given the team behind Capitano, it should come as no surprise that the drinks here are more than just an afterthought. The drinks menu features around 17 Australian and Italian wines by the glass with a focus on Italian varietals. There’s also a larger bottle list available if you want to go down that route. Cocktails also skew Italian, with a spritz, aperetivos, sweet cocktials, and coffee based concoctions. Beer and cider is craft and mostly local, with an offering from Italy and the USA popping every now and then.

The opening of an Italian restaurant in Carlton is far from the newest idea in Melbourne, but the team behind Capitano have managed to do enough to stand out from the crowd. The food here is stripped back and simple, and like the best Italian food allows the quality of the produce to talk via restraint in the kitchen.

Capitano

421 Rathdowne Street
Carlton
Victoria 3053
Australia

Telephone: (03) 9134 8555
E-mail: n/a
Website

Open
Mon – Thu: 5:30pm to 10:00pm
Fri: 5:30pm to 12:00am
Sat: 12:00pm to 12:00am
Sun: 12:00pm to 11:00pm

Capitano Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

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Paul
Paul
Paul founded The City Lane back in 2009 as a place to share photos of his travels around Europe with friends and family. The City Lane might have changed quite a lot since those early days but one thing that’s remained constant is Paul’s passion for food, travel and culture, and a desire to photograph and write about his experiences. Paul has a strong inquisitive nature that drives him to look beneath the surface in order to discover what really makes a city and its people tick, and what better way to do this than over a good meal or drink, with a city’s locals, at places that people who live in that city actually frequent. Paul is also a co-host of The Brunswick Beer Collective, a podcast that may or may not actually be about beer.

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