AN Irish hitman, an Aussie car dealer and a Malaysian accountant are drinking red wine, when…
This is no joke: the three friends have been regulars at Fremantle’s Capri Restaurant for 45 years.
“I come every fortnight and bring the family,” the Floreat car dealer says. “My father brought me here when I was going to school at Christchurch.”
“I’ve been coming here since the 1960s, every day I had lunch here,” the Malaysian man says of his time as an accountancy student.
The white-haired Irishman says little, and the others laugh about his former career as a hitman — I think, but can not be certain, they are joking.
I’d expected the Capri to be quiet on a Monday night but it was heaving with local old-timers, families and hip youngsters keen to breathe in Freo as it used to be before it goes.
The Pizzale family opened the place in 1954 and it’s outlasted a slew of neighbours and rivals: a time-lapse video of the past 61 years would be fascinating, with the Capri a rock amidst an everchanging ocean of shops, facades and fashions.
And it’s still operated by the Pizzale family.
The decor has changed little: the tablecloths and immaculately presented cutlery always bring a smile, but the menu has moved on from the steak and eggs and spaghetti once demanded by Australians too tremulous to go full Italian.
You can still get a mixed grill ($30.50), but there are many more adventurous dishes for carnivores, including veal with a sweet marsala sauce ($25/$29.50), and a heap of pasta dishes.
The numbers man demolished a huge plate of roast chicken and spaghetti ($26), while his car flogger and hard man mates devoured a veal with fresh tomato and chilli ($25–$29).
This was pretty impressive as they’d also polished off the complimentary bowl of minestrone soup and Italian bread that the Capri is famous for.
D’Angerous Dave’s fish of the day (with vegetables or salad) ($25) was firm, moist and well flavoured, and the chips he’d ordered were wonderfully old-style, softer than the deep-fried version, with great taste and texture.
The Capri’s spaghetti marinara ($24 small serve) is proof that simple is best. Comprising squid and scallops it wasn’t overly sauced, just an uncomplicated mix of garlic, chilli and olive oil that was delicious.
A whole dessert was beyond us but we shared a fantastic tiramisu — truly, one of the best you’ll get — washed down by a very good black coffee for me and a tea for the other ‘alf.
We left thinking the Capri’s longevity and drawing power is down to simple, good food, pleasant service — and maybe a hankering for a bygone age.
by JENNY D’ANGER
21 South Terrace, Fremantle
open 7 days for lunch and dinner