Tony Capasso has developed quite the reputation earning himself quite the following. After spending nearly 20 years at Valbella! and Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse, the veteran Maître d’ now has a steak place of his own at the JHouse, a boutique hotel in Greenwich. Tony is warm, affable and charming. He has a special way with his customers as he circles around to each table offering quick yet challenging trivia questions for all to answer. His eyes twinkle. His smile is infectious.
Tony comes around to our table. “What’s the most expensive spice?” He asks.
“Saffron,” we answer this one quickly.
“What’s the second most expensive spice?”
We pause and look at him quizzically?
“It begins with the same letter as this small, wealthy country in Europe,” he offers as a hint. Monaco? Luxembourg? Andora? We are way off.
He offers another hint. “It’s the only country where everyone is technically a virgin.”
I think about this and the improbability of the hint.
The letter V. His clues are fast and he starts to fire frantically, like a veteran auctioneer.
Finally, “Vanilla!” a couple of us shout out in unison as though we’re contestants on some game show and not guests in an upscale restaurant. (The country he was referring to was Vatican City!) There’s a livelihood at Tony’s that he absolutely encourages.
During our game of trivia, a plate of warm, buttery garlic bread and marinara dipping sauce are brought to our table. The garlic to butter ratio is good – you don’t have to worry about offending your dinner partner! I sip a nice Chardonnay, a Louis Jadot, the only French wine in the house.
More food arrives. A plate of yellow and red beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes and a plump ball of burrata in the middle of it all, taking center stage. I’ve never met a Burrata I’ve not liked, but it’s not tomato season, and I thought them to be slightly lackluster. The Tuna Tartare with wasabi tabiko, cucumbers, cilantro, avocado and house-made waffle-cut chips was pleasant. Fresh, refreshing, flavorful, a generous serving for one, a nice size for two.
The appetizer piece de resistance, however, was The Meatball. I kid you not when I say this thing was likely the size of my head. Made from pork, veal, beef, Parmigiano-Reggiano, ricotta and a tomato basil sauce, this meatball’s flavors were reminiscent of meatloaf, but more delicate (despite its girth) and tender to the bite. This unassuming treat has a lot soul and really should be enjoyed with. Order this with several forks, please.
Before the rest of the food arrives I switch over to the Sangiovese, a full-bodied, earthy Cab that lends itself well to the meat and pasta dishes I am about to have.
Screw Paleo! Screw Keto! Pass the Carbio! And just like that little squares of pillowy Gnocchi were gently deposited onto my plate. Dressed in truffle oil and cream I was biting into pure decadence. I did want to add a quick shake of salt… a dash. The truffle presented itself nicely but it could have used a bit more salt. Pappardelle will always hold a special place in my heart – my my pasta of choice when I travelled to off the beaten path eateries in Umbria and Tuscany. Pork, veal and beef and a ricotta salata brought me back to the old country. The noodles were tender and light, the sauce coated well, the rich flavors of the meat rolled across my tongue.
Let’s talk about the King Crab Legs, organata style. Dressed with butter, breadcrumbs and oregano, the sweet meat was plentiful, luxurious, and my favorite of the night. These are a treat not to be missed. But what’s a steak house without some steak. I confess to not being a huge meat eater, but the Porterhouse (ordered medium rare) was as beautiful as it was tender as it was tasty – juicy and brimming with flavor.
What’s a meal without dessert, you ask? A Gelato, perhaps? I recommend the cherry, if they have it, as a refreshing palate cleanser. Order an extra spoon, your date is going to want to dig in. If you’re not overly full the Zucchino, which is much more decadent, is made with a vanilla crème Anglaise, chocolate espresso mousse and toasted almonds. Beautifully presented in a glass, … dig deep for spoonfuls of heaven. Their version of Tiramisu is a bit more decadent, the spongy cake has been replaced with one that’s denser which totally worked for me.
Our meals were prepared by Executive Chef Denis Radovic, who, prior to joining Tony’s new endeavor, served as Executive Chef of Gabriele’s Italian Steakhouse. His menu at Tony’s is described as an “exciting and comforting fusion of elbows-on-the-table dishes.”
While it is the meal that makes the restaurant, the setting plays a major role as well. In keeping with the J House hotel’s eclectic design aesthetic, the dining room is reminiscent of a 1940’s supper club, romantic at first glance, with unabashed drama at its core. Warm earth tones, plush seating, trees aglow, and persimmon shaded chandeliers fill the room. The white marble-top bar lined with leather high-back seating looks over the wood-burning open hearth. In the warmer months, Tony’s is unlike anything that exists in the region, with a design layout that brings the indoors outside. The open-air dining and bar areas are protected from the weather by a clever system of trellises and heating units that allow the outdoor spaces to be used for much of the year.
Tony’s is open 7 days
Breakfast, lunch, dinner, cocktails, weekend brunch
1114 East Putnam Avenue Greenwich, Connecticut
New Web Site Coming Soon: www.tonysatthejhouse.com