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This past year has found me spending a lot of time in Argenta, but one of the restaurants that has slipped under my radar is Ristorante Capeo, an almost 18-year veteran of the neighborhood. Over that time, Capeo has built a loyal clientele through its consistent execution of Italian food classics, all in a warm, rustic setting that’s perfect for a laid-back, romantic night out.
The restaurant takes great pride in making all of the pasta, bread, and desserts from scratch, which is no small feat and a trait that puts Capeo in rare air for Central Arkansas.
Within minutes of sitting down, a basket of complimentary, crusty white bread hit the table. One bite made my wife and I sit back in our chairs in delight, followed by a glance and a short conversation on whether this was the best restaurant bread we’ve had in the area. We concluded that it was, and that was not our glasses of Bell Wine Cellars Sauvignon Blanc talking.
We passed on popular appetizers like The Hunter (small meat plate) and Fried Sage Leaves for salads and the Grilled Meatballs, a beautiful plate of balsamic vinegar-drizzled chicken and pork meatballs over a bed of mixed greens. The inclusion of grilled lemon was a nice touch, both with presentation and for adding a nice touch of acidity to the dish. My Caesar salad was the only slight miss of the evening. An overdressing did the romaine lettuce no favors and I also would have preferred some subtle hints of anchovies throughout the salad.
For our main courses, we were tempted to order a Neapolitan-style, wood-fire pizza and the fresh fish special of the evening. But our entrees of Lasagna and Tagliatelle with Porcini proved to be next level. Thankfully, my wife shared a few bites of her lasagna, a sizable hunk of composed, layered noodles topped with a mild red meat sauce. Like the bread, this lasagna is one of the best of its kind in the area. That unmistakable texture of fresh-made pasta was also apparent in the Tagliatelle with Porcini, a lighter dish of thin, flat pasta swimming in a wine and butter sauce with mushrooms. The tagliatelle also paired wonderfully with the crisp sauvignon blanc. While I am on the topic, it is also worth noting that Capeo has a wonderful wine selection.
Unfortunately, due to loading up on bread and pasta, we were unable to save room for one of those house-made desserts like Tiramisu, Almond Torte, Vanilla Panna Cotta, and Gelato. Next time. And mark my words, there will be a next time at Capeo. And soon. In addition to fantastic food, the well-paced service throughout the meal helped make for a date night to remember.
If you haven’t been to Ristorante Capeo in a while, make it happen.
425 Main Street (North Little Rock)
Hours: Monday-Thursday 5 p.m.-9 p.m.; Friday & Saturday 5 p.m.-10 p.m.; Closed Sunday (reservations are highly encouraged)
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