Capo Bruce Marder Capo
1810 Ocean Ave. (Pico Blvd.)
Santa Monica, CA 90401
Cuisine: Italian
Wood-fired cooking is part of the experience at this Italian restaurant, along with one of Los Angeles' best wine lists.
Openings: Dinner Tues.-Sat.


Capo, Santa Monica, CA

Capo Restaurant Review:

About chef/owner Bruce Marder: Capo, a hidden Italian gem in Santa Monica, has been a success since 1998 thanks to the efforts of chef/owner and local restaurateur Bruce Marder. (Brentwood Restaurant & Lounge and Marvin are among his other projects.) After spending time with him, we can attest that his motto is "attention to detail," from produce to cooking to décor to service. The walls of the cozy restaurant are decorated with art collected on his worldwide travels. This principle even applies to the steak knives --- one of five sets rotates each week to keep the white tablecloths lively. A chef first and foremost, he is so dedicated that if you don't happen to see him at Capo one night, he was most likely there that morning prepping with the team. Breads are produced by his own bakery, and he makes many of the cured meats himself. He goes to great lengths to handpick his farm-to-table purveyors --- a list of them is included with the menu. In a corner of the restaurant is a wood-burning hearth fired with almond wood, which imparts a distinctive flavor to the dishes.

Likes: the wine list; the grilled meats.
Dislikes: be prepared to spend your dollars.

Food: Among the appetizers, expect to encounter classic caprese, mini meatballs, Santa Barbara spot prawns and calamari. Continue with risotto (truly cooked to order for 35 minutes) or the famous rigatoni with truffle meat sauce. This, along with the white corn ravioli with black truffles, can be worth the trip. A few "fish of the day" options are available, but meat is where the wood-fired cooking really shines. Marder is proud of the flourless chocolate soufflé, a recipe given to him by Jacques Pépin. We also like the candied bread pudding, a variation of crème brûlée. If it might only take you a few minutes to look over the menu, it could take all night to peruse the exceptional wine list, which is for many connoisseurs a reason enough to come to Capo.

strong>Wine list: The 2,500-plus labels require a staff of four sommeliers, of which two are always on the floor. They execute with expertise the delicate task of guiding guests through the seemingly endless choices. These include a huge selection of French wines with an emphasis on Burgundy (Marder's favorite wine region). Menu and wine prices are on the steep side, so the restaurant can at times feel more like a private club for the rich and famous. (Capo's patrons have included former President Barack Obama's daughters, Malia and Sasha.)

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