The folk from Bar Liberty have proved themselves as masters of transformation with their newest offering. Their refurbishment of the dark Beaufort is a wonder to behold.
The now light and bright interior features burgundy and cream walls, olive green banquettes, wooden tables and art deco light shades. You can sit up at the bar or down on the tables. The terrazzo floor tiles are beautiful. Perhaps they — in conjunction with the high ceilings — create a space where people feel the need to yell each other. It's loud at Capitano, but nothing a couple of acoustic boards wouldn't fix.
The menu seems simple at first glance, with some cured meat starters, vegetable sides, pizzas, two pastas and two 'big plates'. But the dishes are not. A veal parmigiana with the bone in ($65) is expensive for its size, but complex and an interesting take on a classic. And the vesuvio with vodka sauce ($24) piques our attention immediately.
If you haven't yet encountered it, vodka sauce is a bit of a classic in Italo-American joints, and this is an exceptional example. Served over al dente twirly pasta — vesuvio is named after Mount Vesuvius in Campania — this vodka-spiked tomato sauce is creamy, smooth, with just the right amount of richness. It feels like coming home to a cosy spot in front of the fire on a rainy night.
But if you came for the pizza, you'll be happy with the pizza. The base is sourdough, fermented for 48 hours, and has just the right amount of chew. Plus, they don't go overboard on the toppings. Choose from a classic cheese pizza ($18) — to which you could DIY with new season onions, fennel salami, mortadella or anchovy — or go for one of the more complex options, the Tomato Pie ($18), for example, is incredibly tasty, with plenty of marjoram, garlic and cheese.
Banjo Harris Plane — the venue's co-owner and sommelier — has created an enviable 100-strong wine list with excellent pours by the glass from Italian winemakers, and more local, but Italian, varieties. There are also eight cocktails ranging from sparkly spritzes to aperitivos, through to the dolce, which include a drinkable tiramisu ($20) — made with dark rum, marsala, coffee, biscuits and milk.
Sadly they'd run out of the edible tiramisu ($15) by the time we got to dessert, but the large flat discus-like ones that passed our table looked impressive. That and the vodka sauce are good reasons alone to make a return visit.
Images: Kate Shanasy.