One of our ongoing quests is to find a good independent Italian restaurant in the Woodlands - a place that can be our "go to" spot when we're in the mood for something from Italy.
We heard rumors of a new authentic Italian place, but couldn't imagine where it could be. Google Maps led us to the location, a nondescript strip center on I-45's northbound side, just north of Rayford/Sawdust. We've passed this center a thousand times, and have never stopped in.
We turned in, and found Capri. It's a small place, featuring pasta, pizza, "& more". We entered, and were immediately taken by the charm of the small room. A third of it is devoted to the open kitchen. Not the artfully staged cooking theater found in some chains, but a real working kitchen out there in plain sight, a good sign of nothing to hide. The rest of the room is nicely decorated with Italian art, and the overall feel is very homey - a thousand miles away from the slick corporate Italian spots that dominate the Woodlands. The interior was fairly dark, which created a nice atmosphere; we certainly didn't feel like we were in a strip center.
The owner, Barbara Coglianese, appeared at our table, welcoming us. When we showed interest in her restaurant and what she was doing, we got the whole story. Barbara and her husband Maurizio moved to the States from Italy several years ago, and they opened this restaurant in January. Maurizio travels in his business, and Barbara runs the place most of the time, with her family and a few dedicated staff members. Barbara is a charming woman with a ready smile whose passion for cooking comes through when she talks about her food. We put ourselves in her hands, and looked forward to what her kitchen would create.
My entree was pollo scaloppine with a light lemony sauce. The chicken was pounded flat and very tender, and the sauce was smooth, slightly sweet and delightfully citrusy. Served on the side was a wonderful zucchini dish; thinly sliced, delicately sauteed in olive oil, very simple but superb.
We also sampled gnocchi alfredo, with the small potato dumplings amidst a smooth, creamy, and lushly buttery alfredo sauce, dusted with some mild Parmesan cheese. The flavors melded very well, making for a satisfying dish.
The common theme through the dishes we sampled was a sense of handcrafted food, created with skill and pride. None of the recipes were hugely elaborate, but the care that was taken shined through, and the result was outstanding.
Prices are very good - lunch entrees are under $10, and dinner is generally in the low teens. Steaks are affordable (generally under $20) and kids meals are $4.
In the past, we have bemoaned the lack of a good independent Italian restaurant in the Woodlands. We're very glad that Barbara and Maurizio have opened Capri, bringing authentic Italian food to an area served mainly by big chains.
Capri Pasta Pizza & More
25602 IH-45 North
Spring, Texas 77386