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10 Things to Know About Capo

From chicken Parm to jugs of wine — inside Southie's new Italian
February 23, 2016
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by Scott Kearnan

Who's the boss? Capo. 

Loosen up your belt buckle; South Boston's got a big new dining destination. Capo, which opened last week, meets all your hearty, rustic, Italian-craving needs. It comes from the same team behind Southie haunts Lincoln Tavern & Restaurant and Loco Taqueria & Oyster Bar, a nice little hat trick for the group. If you like wood-burning fireplaces, wood-fired pizza and dining rooms covered in lots and lots of wood — you're in luck. (There's even an additional lower-level lounge in the works.) Plus, Boston food-scene followers will be pleased to hear which high-profile names landed in the kitchen and behind the bar. So read on before you dig in. 

443 W. Broadway, South Boston; 617-993-8080

The 292-seat space used to belong to a dollar store — but now it looks like a million bucks. The design comes courtesy of Erica Diskin of Assembly Design Studio, inspired by the look and feel of turn-of-the-century Italian-American restaurants in NYC and Chicago joints where gents in fedoras might meet for "business" meetings over heaps of red sauce. The space is divided into a brighter, tile-lined front room and a homey, fireplace-capped rear; they're partitioned by big brick arches revealed during the build-out. The rest of the space, though, is bedecked in various woods salvaged from different sources, as well as cool antique elements like circa-1930 ceiling fans retrieved from a Texas courthouse, a host stand repurposed from a general store counter that reportedly survived the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and an early 1900s ice box now used to store wine. 

Lumber lovers will swoon over the handsome woods, which have interesting history attached. The front room's booths and banquettes are made of the same white pine that was used for the 1804 construction of 9 Park Street on Beacon Hill (where No.9 Park now stands). Tables are repurposed wood from a Pennsylvania horse barn, and the walls are covered in hemlock from a 1910 New Braintree brain. 

Say "ciao!" to chef Anthony Susi, making a big splash back in Boston. Susi, an alum of Todd English's Olives, was chef-owner of the lauded South End Italian Sage, which closed in 2009. He traded the Hub for NYC, where he held an executive chef role at the W Hotel Union Square NYC. Recently, he returned to start cooking in our kitchens again (you may have spotted him at Il Casale Lexington), and now he's back in full command at Capo. His polished takes on rustic Italian and Italian-American standards — like one huge chicken Parmesan ($17) — are served à la carte.

Another standout, from the antipasti corner of the menu, is the burrata ($11) with basil pesto and dried tomatoes. 

Both the front and back rooms boast big, beautiful bars. (The front bar, seen here, also has two TVs, which will be kept concealed except for big game days and other must-see moments.) And there's also a huge reason for cocktail nerds to rejoice: the bar program is overseen by industry fave Kevin Mabry, one of our past 30 Under 30 honorees and an alum of spots like jm Curley. You'll drink as well as you dine. 

Mabry is making up some of his expectedly well-balanced cocktails, like the Contessa ($10) of gin, Aperol and Noilly Prat, a French vermouth. 

Good news: house red and white wines are offered on tap for the extremely reasonable cost of $7 per glass. Better news: you can get humongous jugs for the table for $48. (Those who believe in moderation can also opt for half and full carafes for $18 and $36, respectively.) 

Behold the back room, outfitted with an open kitchen, wood-burning fireplace and bar built from vineyard crates and heart pine salvaged from the 1900-built, original Converse shoe factory in nearby Melrose. And there's more space to come: restaurateur and Capo partner Eric Aulenback says there are plans to add a downstairs function room and "supper club"–style lounge with a bar and room for live music. The lower level will also have a small annexed area for Italian groceries and grab-and-go eats, and both will be accessible through a separate West Broadway entrance — as well as through the main restaurant.

The sfizi section of the menu highlights some killer lobster arancini ($10) in a spicy aïoli. 

You'll also find some fantastic wood-fired pizzas, like the sopressata ($13) with mozzarella and tomato. 

italian
south boston