Italian Art Comes to Caprice
The Caprice restaurant at the Londa in Limassol has always been a good restaurant and at times, very good. The theme from the beginning has been Italian, but for the last few years, the non-Italian chef, though a talented cook in his own right, had focused on Cypriot-style food or dishes that were fusions of various cuisines. There were certainly Italian choices on the menu but when the chef decided to return to Sweden, there was a unanimous decision among the owners and administration of the Londa to seek out a native Italian chef. After all, imagine visiting a restaurant in New York or London that billed itself as Cypriot and then finding that the chef was from Guatemala and had never been outside the Americas. He may be a very good cook but you wouldn’t want to gamble the price of a meal on his ability to master the nuances of a disparate foreign cuisine.
On a trip to Athens, the Londa people spread the word that they were headhunting for an exceptional Italian chef. Somebody said there was a wonderful Italian restaurant, very popular, in Kolonaki. They went, they tasted, they conquered—and absconded with Giovanni Caracciolo, a native of Milan.
The first thing to know about Giovanni, besides the fact that he is a highly trained culinary professional and former chef at the La Scala Opera House in Milan, is that he is also a painter. He has a fine artist’s sensibilities and an appreciation for the effect that beauty has on our everyday lives.
When you dine at a gourmet restaurant, you are not there just because you are hungry. If you only wanted to fill your belly, you could go out for souvlaki or pizza. We visit an elegant restaurant such as Caprice to share with a loved one or friend an experience that pleases on several fronts, among them a sophisticated, comfortable environment, perhaps a beautiful view or decor that includes well-chosen art, intelligent music that allows for conversation, smooth service that is attentive but not obsequious, a well-assembled wine list, and food that is not only tasty and skillfully crafted but also beautiful to look at. Satisfying your hunger is almost secondary. Caprice now has all of the above and with Giovanni directing kitchen operations, it has evolved from a very good restaurant to a truly great restaurant.
Some popular dishes from the old kitchen have been retained, but 90% of the menu is new and as Italian as Casanova, Pavarotti or Sophia Loren. Recommended dishes are: Αubergine Soufflé with sautéed langoustine (divine is the word); Shallow Fried Prawn with a luscious gorgonzola sauce; sushi-grade Tuna Carpaccio with a fennel and citrus salad; the addictive melon and prosciutto Risotto; sumptuous fillet of seabass; and for dessert, Rivisitazione del cannolo alla siciliana. The Jackson Pollock painting that the chocolate canoli sits on is not part of the crockery design. It is hand-poured by a gifted artist and chef, Giovanni Caracciolo, and Cyprus is indeed lucky to have him.
Caprice at the Londa Beach Hotel, Limassol 25 865 555 open 7 days, breakfast, lunch and dinner. Dinner for two with wine €50 and up.
By Matthew Stowell