Capische? Delivers Pricey Italian Elegance
Vanessa Wolf is a former head chef. She offers her frank assessments in the interests of honesty and improving Maui’s culinary scene.
By Vanessa Wolf
Oh, Capische?, you’re twisting our arm.
We’re guessing this was some kind of “People don’t know how to pronounce it so let’s give it to ‘em phonetically” decision, but in proper Italian, it’s spelled Capisce.
Enough of our nitpicking. About grammar anyway.
We started with the Salumi and Cheese Platter ($19).
It arrived with Taleggio cheese accompanied by some jaw-droppingly good roasted strawberries. Who knew roasting strawberries turned them into crack?
Also on the board was Piave – “the king of Italian cheese” – three pieces of crostini and a singular slice of flatbread. Capische? does not want you to get fat.
The salty and assertive house made salami and the savory, velvety trotters (a soft sausage, kind of like a head cheese) were outstanding.
The Grilled Caesar ($16) arrives with about five charred romaine leaves, the net effect of which is that they’re kind of wilted. The dressing, a very lemony vinaigrette, seems to have been applied directly to the plate. Keeping with the deconstructed theme, some thin slices of Parmesan and a generous helping of anchovies rest on top. It was fine, but not something we’d order again.
The Heirloom Haiku Tomato Caprese ($17) was seventeen dollars.
We’re not certain, but we suspect Heirloom Haiku tomatoes are watered with Cristal and single malt scotch.
Your $17 buys you two small pieces of fresh mozzarella, three slices of heirloom Haiku tomato, some basil mircrogreens, and copious pickled onions. Sadly, the onion flavor was so overpowering we couldn’t taste anything else.
As reformed vegans with brutish vampire tendencies, we know a thing or two about carpaccio.
Invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice, the original dish features the thinnest slices of raw beef garnished with a “secret dressing”: mayonnaise with some Worcestershire and lemon juice. Simple decadence.
Capische?’s Beef Carpaccio ($21) takes gilding the lily to a whole new level with raw beef, capers, parmesan, sprouts, microgreens, breadcrumbs, olive oil, radishes, cucumbers, green beans and Meyer lemon.
It’s just too much.
We hope they’ll consider a ‘less is more’ strategy and get rid of most – if not all – of the vegetables. The meat deserves a chance to shine and is quality such that it will.
On another visit we took a run at the Slow Cooked Egg Carbonara ($17) and it is… remember that scene in When Harry Met Sally?
Yes, yes, YES.
Browned pancetta with cheese and eggs over strozzapreti pasta? Absolute perfection.
The Vongole Salsicca ($20) is rich with clams and sausage in a fennel-flavored tomato sauce. It’s an unusual combination of flavors that works wonderfully. The fact that it arrives on black squid ink fettucine? Gilding the lily again, but this time it works.
The Roasted Onaga ($44) arrives on a ragout of toothy – and vinegary – parsnip puree. It was pretty salty, but not enough to ruin the dish. Unfortunately, around this time it became clear that our waiter apparently forgot to tell us we were playing a game of Hide and Go Seek. He was expert level.
The Hawaiian Ranchers Prime Filet of Beef ($55) must be sourced from a special breed of miniature cows.
Despite its small stature, it is expertly prepared with a harsh char on the outside yet sweet medium rare meat in the middle.
Capische? is known for their Mushroom Truffle Risotto ($23). Rich, creamy, and still toothsome, the only problem is the itty bitty portion. Maybe we’re pigs, but the portion struck us more as “essence of risotto.”
Haute cuisine rations are fine, but with risotto we want to be forced to unbutton our pants.
We ordered the Veal Chop ($55) picatta style.
The veal arrived perfectly cooked and the piccata sauce was on-point with strong lemon and caper flavors, but we found the onion chunks oversized and weren’t too keen on the overly assertive punch of basil.
We didn’t dislike it, per se, but we wouldn’t order it again. Maybe try your luck with the Marsala version instead?
The expression “capisce?” has come to be associated with Hollywood gangster types, as in, “Tony’s gonna fit you with these here concrete shoes and then take you on a little trip. We better not hear nothing out of your pie hole, capisce?”
Capische? seems to be asking a few tough talking questions of its own.
- How much time ya got?
- How hungry are ya?
- Ya got one of those Black Amex cards?
Let’s drill down the list.
Service gives new meaning to the word “leisurely.”
The setting is drop-dead gorgeous, but expect LENGTHY pauses between courses, and by lengthy we mean a half an hour or more: an experience we had during all three visits and even on odd nights like a Wednesday.
Portions are generally tiny. Maybe not adorable tiny so much as not-filling-your-belly tiny.
In addition, Capi$che? is expen$$$ive. Your wallet’$ innard$ will rumble from hunger upon exit. It’$ go big or go home time, kid$. We recommend you bring your black American Expre$$.
Money can’t buy you love, but it can buy your taste buds some joy.
Capische? is open daily from 5:30–9:30 p.m.
We welcome your feedback. Please let us know if you hear of any new restaurants opening or reopening, total menu overhauls, or simply know of a hidden treasure you want to share. Have a restaurant you want reviewed (or re-reviewed)? Drop us a line – Vanessa(@mauinow.com)