Café to Trattoria
- September 1st, 2023
- in Restaurants
Capriccio Di Mare Trat40toria is a favourite with locals and visitors for its unassuming, casual dining and family-friendly atmosphere, as well as a fun evening buzz that has seen it become a hangout so popular, it’s now open 7-days a week, all year around.
Proprietors Mark Forte and Anton Goldstein, partners in a leading law firm, have known each other for over 10-years. Both have a passion for food and wine and clearly an innate ability to run a restaurant.
Anton has family connections in the industry as does Mark – whose Italian grandparents, Angelo and Annunciata owned a café in Portrush, a small seaside resort town on the north coast of Ireland. “I spent almost every weekend at the café helping my grandparents make ice-cream and learn about Italian coffee” he says.
Over the 20+years that he has lived in the BVI, Mark and his family frequented Capriccio Di Mare and knew the previous owners, veteran BVI chef Davide Pugliese and his first wife Ceceilia (Cele) who opened the restaurant in its existing location almost 30-years before.
Capriccio Di Mare, meaning ‘whim of the sea’ in part, describes its original purpose. Which Davide says “was a café created to satisfy a gap in the market at the time, providing quick and tasty Italian food accompanied by a cappuccino or cocktail, dine-in or grab-and-go”.
Mark always thought Capriccio would make a nice opportunity if Davide and Cele wanted to exit. Soon Hurricane Irma hit and the time was right.
In 2019, Mark and Anton took on Capriccio with the goal of shifting it from a café to a Trattoria style eatery. In Italy, this is traditionally a family-owned, casual, rustic neighbourhood restaurant.
The pair immediately set to work on re-styling the front area that was included in the lease, but unused – so they extended more dining space into what is now known as the garden area. In 2022 the restauranteurs focused on the bar as an opportunity, creating the inviting bar, also in the garden area and hired Alicia from Sweden to manage it.
Her goal was to develop more regular local patronage. Now the bar is just as popular as the restaurant with a group of regulars who treat it as their local, an extensive menu of cocktails, craft beer and wine and a daily happy hour that begins at 5:30pm with an extra one on Fridays at 9pm, when the place is buzzing.
In the restaurant, ably lead by Angela (Angie) there’s a down-to-earth, family friendly vibe and later in the evening a fun atmosphere with a band of locals who frequent it.
Capriccios has experienced its first solid high season where tables of eight or more from tourists to locals fill the dining area and spill out into the bar most evenings.
“We are finding that we are just as busy in season as off season” says Mark, “so we’re open seven days per week with breakfast and barista-style Italian coffee served from 9am, lunch and dinner and closing when the last guest departs”.
“We’re proud of our Italian coffee machine” laughs Mark. “This year we launched Mangia (meaning “eat” in Italian) which is a company formed to import Italian food and wine products for the restaurant to use and distribute to other outlets in the BVI”.
But not everything is imported. The focaccia bread is fresh baked daily and Mark’s wife Jeannette is in charge of making the delicious cakes and slices on offer, which include gluten-free options. The gluten free pizza base is a closely guarded secret recipe and in high demand! Mark’s Grandmother, Annunciata’s ice-cream sundaes are of course available, all made with local ice-cream sourced from La Dolce Vita. If he’s not travelling on business, most evenings you will find Mark watching and helping if the need arises.
As Davide quite rightly puts it “as our community has evolved, so has Capriccio Di Mare and this is testament to its good management, great food and popularity throughout the years right through until today”.