Crapitto’s Cucina Italiana Revisited
When Crapitto’s opened on Mid Lane over a decade ago, there were a lot of jokes about the name and I am reminded of the slogan of the jelly company… “With a name like Smuckers…” In the case of Crapitto’s Cucina Italiana, (actually, a well-established and respected name in Houston’s restaurant industry) the fact is that the experience really IS good. We were driving aimlessly of a Sunday morning foraging for food and decided to drop in on Crapitto’s to see how it had changed over the past decade. It’s a plus that it was open as early as 11:00 a.m. and we found that it was a really pleasant place for Sunday brunch. It is in an old farmhouse, also. It’s also time to stop the name jokes and references to the restaurant that was here before it became Crapitto’s in 1997.
One of our favorite Dining Patios in Houston
It is a compliment when I say that Crapitto’s is seriously “old school”. There are absolutely no trendy stacked entrees there. There are some slightly personalized old standards, prepared to very high standards… and served with aplomb by servers who are as much at ease with a ninety-year-old regular as they are with a teen with a chartreuse Mohawk and nose ring dining with his family. I mention those demographic groups, as we were seated within chatting distance of both. The atmosphere is formal… it is casual… and it is very comfortable. For outside dining, its tree-covered patio is on our short list of the top three in Houston.
So we started with Shrimp Nellie ($12.00). This appetizer at Crapitto’s is made with jumbo shrimp sautéed in a flour and egg batter then served in a garlic cream sauce. The shrimp sautéed in this manner also may be served with the same cream sauce with fettuccini as an entrée ($22.00)… and it is so good that I feel that any meal there should probably include one variation or the other.
Asparagus and Lump Crabmeat
Asparagus and Lump Crabmeat ($14.00) has both the visual appeal and the taste to please and it is served with a tangy lemon butter sauce. I’m somewhat picky about the way lump crabmeat should be dealt with in a kitchen (commercial OR home) and it looks like the rule I follow of “Only touch it once!” is followed to keep the crabmeat big and intact. There’s not a lot more that can be added to this description except that you already know what lemon and butter do for both asparagus and crabmeat.
Veal Crapitto ($23.00) was next in line and it is a crisply sautéed veal scaloppini with prosciutto, mozzarella and an Alfredo sauce. I didn’t order it, but after I tasted it, I picked unceasingly at Sally’s portion. Luckily for her, it was a generous cut of veal.
Cappellini di Mare
My entrée was Cappellini di Mare ($22.00). There are a lot of things I can say about this mound of shrimp, lump crabmeat, red bell peppers, onions and a sherry cream sauce is that the soft aroma of the sherry beckons the second it touches the table and if you look at the picture, you can’t find the pasta. Some say that a rule in fine food restaurants is the higher the price, the smaller the quantity… but there is plenty to share in this dish and as with all sauces served at Crapitto’s, this one is classically understated and doesn’t overpower or steal the stage from the seafood.
Desserts at Crapitto’s are all house made and have all attained “signature” status through the years, they are ceremoniously offered… proudly served and really are excellent.
I like it when the waiter brings your tiramisu to the table and anxiously watches to see your reaction when he places it in front of you. Order what you want for dessert at Crapitto’s, but in my opinion, you’re missing out if you don’t order the tiramisu and cappuccino to top it off.
All in all, Crapitto’s has mellowed… it has become more comfortable and they just really have it down. I introduced myself as we prepared to leave and asked for a recipe. The server said he would ask his manager. His manager is Justin Harbar, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York (unusual for a manager in a restaurant in Houston). I got the recipe (verbally), as Justin recognized me… I had last seen him over 30 years ago when he was around five or six years old and the son of my best friend at the time.
If you are looking for a romantic dining experience in Houston… this is it.
Frank Crapitto also owns Frank’s Chop House at 3736 Westheimer He and Chef Frank Butera bring together two of Houston’s most respected restaurant families there and it may be our next stop.
Crapitto’s Cucina Italiana
2400 Mid Lane
Houston, TX 77027