Capital, the rising Phoenix?

Friday night rolls around and it’s restaurant time for Robyn and myself. Tonight’s choice was Capital, we hadn’t been before and had heard good things on social media, so we were looking forward to it ever since the booking was made earlier in the week. Capital occupies the old Marti Zucco restaurant building on the North Hobart strip. Location was not the only thing they had in common, both restaurants are flagrantly and proudly Italian in origin. Marti Zucco’s for many years was a Hobart institution, and it seems everyone at some point had been to Marti’s. In my twenties it was a perennial favourite. For many a group booking Marti’s was top of the list and how could you go wrong with pizza? Great memories.

The problem was Marti’s never changed, or perhaps more to the point, I had. A few years ago Robyn and I were fondly recalling our separate youthful memories of Marti’s and decided to go for old times’ sake, and perhaps create a new memory together. What a disappointment. We ordered a bottle of wine which honestly was undrinkable. Robyn’s chicken was dry and my pizza was bland. To make things worse the service was non existent, it was as if our presence was annoying to them. Afterwards we vowed never to go back, and we never did. I honestly had no idea how much of an effect that dining experience had on me, but it obviously did.

The first thing you notice about Capital is the decor is very stylishly done. Subway Tile. Bare Brick. Building materials like reinforcing mesh used as finishes.  Antique repo light bulbs setting the light levels at just visible, which seems to be the preferred light level of many a modern restaurant. As we were greeted at the door by the affable staff and shown to our seats two things struck me. 1. We were literally sitting in the same location as the last infamous dining experience in this building and 2. under all of it’s make-up it is still, at least to me, Marti’s. It’s the layout and those stairs. It scared me and I literally broke out in a cold sweat in apprehension.

My apprehension was ultimately misplaced. I was quickly put at ease by the friendly nature and attentiveness of the wait staff. It was aided further by a refreshing Peroni lager which was offered promptly after arrival. Even though Capital was extremely busy (read full to capacity) we were never left waiting and the evening flowed start to finish without flaw. In fact at one point Robyn could see that the waitress was worriedly looking at our table and soon after she came over to apologise that our mains hadn’t arrived yet. We actually weren’t even concerned and it didn’t feel like we were waiting very long at all, but regardless this level of service is appreciated.

After perusing the ample menu we decided to start with the trio of dips. There was also an excellent looking Antipasti selection which was tempting and made Entrée a hard choice.  Five dips are on offer, of which you can chose three, hence the trio. We chose the Capsicum, Basil Pesto, and Hummus. Served with a garlic and rosemary salted flat bread. Quite honestly the flat bread on it’s own was delicious. The dips were full of flavour and combined with the flat bread made for a fantastic Entrée.
For mains we decided to share the lasagne and the pork belly risotto. Both were very good dishes, but in this match up the Risotto won hands down. The lasagne on the menu indicates a braised beef cheek & wild boar ragu with truffle oil & pepper berry marscapone. The ragu was the converse to what I expected. It was mainly tomato based with sparsely dispersed beef cheek and boar. The marscapone lifted the dish giving it a creamy, light texture to complement the rich tomato sauce.

The risotto was beautiful cooked. No gluey mess that you would find in certain kitchens. OK, OK, my kitchen. Damn I cannot for the life of me cook risotto. The only issue with the risotto was it lacked seasoning. Conveniently all tables are provided with an imported Italian salt shaker. Seriously guys imported Italian salt? Is Mediterranean salt that much better? Well given the magic it worked on the risotto I’ll say yes. Once dusted in the magic crystals the average dish was lifted into the realms of heavenly. The flavours popped and everything on the plate worked together magnificently.

tiramisuWe had good intentions of not partaking in a dessert. Attempting to watch waistlines and all. Oh dear I just made myself laugh out loud. Anyway good intentions aside we were enjoying the food so much we decided to share a dessert. Well actually I decided to have a dessert and dragged Robyn along for the ride. I picked the tiramisu which evidently was of a deconstructed variety. I was interested primarily in what a desconstructed tiramisu looks like. How does it look? I would say it looked … pretty. I’m being petulant, it is a great re-rendering of an old classic. Beautifully presented and the taste was up to the presentation. The cake was moist and delicate and all the traditional tiramisu flavours were there. Overall a good looking and tasting dessert.

The turnover of tables at Capital is quick, but at no point did we feel rushed. After dessert was completed we were asked if we wanted anything else and then presented with the bill. With the bill came the affirmation that we should take our time. Once again a great touch. They are onto a winning formula with a the well trained staff and good food. So has a Phoenix risen from the ashes at 364 Elizabeth St? I would say it has, and as long as they maintain their high standards Capital will prosper for many years to come.





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