Capri is an island resort town in the Campania region of Italy known for gorgeous views, seafood, pasta, and limoncello. If you soften your gaze, dining at Capri in west Omaha evokes the breezy feel of the idyllic resort town. Intimate yet bright, the relaxed space is bedecked in pale shiplap studded with yellow bar stools and blue accents echoing the color of the famous Blue Grotto off the island of Capri.
The new concept from owner Brett Clure debuted in the former party room inside Tanner’s off 173rd and West Center Road in late February 2022 with a focus on Italian comfort foods, classic cocktails, and stellar service. Lucas Ehly, formerly of Tavern 180, manages the bar (and the playlists contributing to the light and breezy feel). Frequently mentioned by name by satisfied customers, Ehly is a well-travelled renaissance man who’s had a foot in the hospitality industry since high school. A wealth of worldly experience, including stints in the tech industry, modeling, and teaching English to children in China make him ideally suited to the profession, and he can’t imagine spending his days any other way.
Ehly’s love for restaurants goes beyond bartending and service. While teaching in China, he expanded his palate (imbibing a Coke daily, figuring it would squelch any reaction to unfamiliar foods), by sampling the wares of the noodle vendors serving daily bowls of happiness from their carts outside his accommodations.
Karen Roads, general manager of the adjoining Tanners, has contributed to the success of the establishment as well. Her 25 years of experience bring a quiet calm to the team, and she, like Ehly, can’t imagine a life outside the industry. She jokingly shared, “I tried to get away and it didn’t work. Once it’s in your blood, it’s tough to get out.”
According to Roads, the executive management team and owners encourage staff to empower themselves. “We are given the tools to do the job, and they have our back.” Ehly added, “Expectations are high, and we are in control of our own destiny.”
The dishes served at Capri are “familiar but better,” according to loyal customers. The complimentary bread has garnered a lot of press, earning comparisons to the beloved Grisanti’s Tuscan-style garlic bread. Dave Shillinglaw, marketing manager, proclaimed the oregano forward, garlic butter bread is “magnificent.”
Kitchen manager Jorge Perea has been cooking for about 5 years and is proud to present dishes such as crispy arancini—risotto balls stuffed with Italian cheeses, coated in panko, and fried to crispy perfection. Another popular antipasto offering is bruschetta—bread rubbed with garlic, topped with olive oil, and grilled or toasted (the moniker derived from bruscare, an Italian verb meaning to char or toast). At Capri, the bruschetta is topped with a refreshing, marinated tomato relish.
All entrees are accompanied by one of three salad options (served before the entrée in the American style). The Capri house salad features a crisp endive mix topped with fresh cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, and pepperoncini peppers. The unique Grotto salad combines hearts of palm, roasted red peppers, and candied pecans tossed in a chipotle lime dressing, and the third option is a classic Caesar salad.
Staff favorite entrée Chicken Piccata is a thin, tender chicken breast topped with capers, marinated diced tomatoes, diced onions, and a lemon beurre blanc over angel hair pasta. The hearty Chicken Parmesan is served over bucatini tossed in a light Marzano tomato sauce studded with fresh basil, and the Carbonara is a creamy dish made possible by a liaison of eggs, pasta water, and parmesan.
Ehly is pleased to recommend the perfect wine to pair with the homey fare served at Capri. The wine list includes familiar and accessible offerings such as Meomi Pinot Noir but also introduces diners to native Italian grapes such as Nebbiolo and Sangiovese.
A well-designed cocktail list features traditional Italian liqueurs such as limoncello in the familiar form of a martini, and future iterations will feature seasonal concoctions. In addition to the Limoncello Martini, Ehly recommends the Raspberry Pama Sparkle and the French Kiss to guests who prefer to let him make the selection.
The dining space is small, with room for 40 guests indoors and 40 guests on the well-shaded patio. Two large booths, one indoor and one on the far end the patio, provide ample space for large parties or families, and the smaller booths for two serve as an intimate spot for date night. “Our guests are our backbone,” said Roads. “We enjoy many repeat guests and feel very blessed to be part of their lives.”
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