Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Oh, New York...

New Yorkers think they have it all. And the thing is, when you say this to a New Yorker, call them out about their inflated pride in their city, they fess right up. As they should. Any true Philadelphian would do the same, then crap on New York in the same breath.
One of my favorite celebrity chefs (what a God-awful term...) is Anthony Bourdain. I'm a sucker for the badass, traveling, no nonsense kind of man, what can I say? My only qualm with him is due to his attitude towards Philly. His attitude? "Honestly, I've never even bothered with Philly. It seems to me it's a two-horse town: Starr and Perrier."
...What, seriously? Not only have both of them been eclipsed and stomped over by the mega-force of the Jose Garces Restaurant Group, we have tons of things New York just cannot compete with. (We'll save this list for another, much longer post).
And you know what, New York? That gap just got a little smaller. Cause now not only does Capogiro carry H&H bagels...we carry their BIALYS too!! HAHA! Take that!! Not only am I fairly certain it's the only bialy to be found in Philadelphia, we snatched em from your all-hailed bagel baker.
Now, I have to admit, when I first came upon these creatures I didn't quite know what to make of them. It's a bagel, but it's not...where's the hole?! And it's baked, but not boiled? So it's not a's a roll!
But more than a roll, the traditional name for these little guys is Bialystok Kuchen! Translated to Bialystok Cake, they made their way to New York in the early 1900s with Polish (hence, Bialystok) and Russian immigrants who made their homes in the Lower East Side.
Traditionally, the indent in a bialy is filled with onion or garlic before baking, and when ready to eat is heating and served with butter (not sliced!). As time went on people started getting a little crazy, and shmeared those suckers with lox and cream cheese. Oh nom. The unfortunate thing about the bialy is that they are only really readily available in New York City, as the Polish population who came up with the idea was largely wiped out in the Holocaust.

So how bout them bialys, New York? Can't say much now, can ya??

photo by waffler

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Rusty's Chips

Ever had a HAND-MADE potato chip?! Me either, until now!!

Rusty's Chips, which are now sold at each Capogiro location, are made with fresh potatoes, sliced by hand. INSANE... And aside from their AMAZING flavor, the chips are all-natural, low in salt, low in fat, and have NO trans-fat OR saturated fat. That's crazy to me, a chip with no saturated fat. Does that mean I can eat twice as many?

You all have been asking for chips to eat with your panini for years, and now you've got the best chips we could find on the planet. Enjoy!!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

We're baaaaaaaaaaaaack

We could talk about the flash mobs, Free Energy being signed to DFA, or about the decline of print media. We could expound on the consumer confusion of the overturn of American health care. Or we could get down to the nitty gritty...


We dusted off all the family portraits, polished Victoria-- the espresso machine, straightened our bowties.
We're smoothing our hands and smiling ear to ear.
It's great to see you South Philadelphia!
You've been missed.

And we're gearing up for a great summer.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

The Neglected, the Broken Hearted...

You know, we try real' hard. Real hard like the Friday New York Times crossword puzzle (now you know I mean business). But no matter how we try, there are always going to be a few of our precious flavors that fall through the cracks of general comprehension. As it is, it's a pretty slow day here in Rittenhouse and I've already had to defend a few of our selection to casual passer by in search of a rainy gelato fix.

Nice Lady Customer: "Sea salt!? That sounds disgusting..."
Me: "Actually it's quite nice, one of my favorites, would you like to try-"
Nice Lady Customer: "No. And rosewater sounds gross, too."
Me: "Hi guys, if you want to try anything let me know!"
Two Business Men Customers: "Oh gross, avocado?! No way, man. I'll just have chocolate"
Me: "You should really try it, it's great!"
Two Business Men Customers: "Yeah right, maybe with some tortilla chips and salsa, am I right??!"

This is generally how those conversations go, after which I skulk off into the corner and cry, thinking only about the feelings of the Unique Fringe Flavors. Oh Hibiscus, Rose, Pinoli, Tahini, Sea Salt, Avocado...we believe in you! You consistently rank among my most favorites, beating Dulce de Leche every day of the week! (Sorry Dulce, you know we've had our good times, but those times have passed...except when you're paired with Sea Salt. Oh nom).

Yes, Nation, we know you love us for our chocolates, for our blood orange and our caramel goodness. But we here at 20th Street ask you that the next time you stop by and see us, you take a pause for the cause and give glimpse and chance to those beckoning flavors in the back - the weird ones, the wacky and strange. Because at the end of the day, isn't THAT why you keep coming back? Why you love us the most?

It's why we love you, too.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The Lovely Return of Spring's Glorious Flavors

Just arrived Springtime flavors, in order of appearance above: Caribbean Sunrise Papaya sorbetto (with hints of ginger), Thai Iced Tea gelato, and Kiwi sorbetto.

Come in here and get a sample, now! No, seriously, on your walk to work tomorrow, stop by one of our locations (chances are you walk by at least one of them a day), and ask the smiling barista that greets you to sample a taste of Spring. Go ahead, TREAT YOURSELF. You deserve it!!

And I guess I should mention that because our flavors change daily, just because a flavor IS in season, doesn't mean it will be at each location every day. We like to mix it up. That said, check our Daily Flavor List if your in search for a particular flavor at a particular location.

Spring, we LOVE you.

The Last of Winter Cooking

There are certain things that I make only in the winter. The long time spent on the stove, warming the kitchen and filling the house with delicious smells that last all day long are something for the cold weather. I always find myself somehow panicked with the prospect of losing these foods until Fall. I also feel liberated. Dinner is ready with a handful of basil from the backyard and a pot of boiling water.

Even though this was the most glorious weekend, I had purchased short ribs for Sunday dinner a few days before. I had to use them! So, I braised all day Sunday. I had to escape midday for a few soccer games in the delicious warm sun and gentle breezes, but we returned to the dark sky and had a winter dinner. Short ribs with polenta, sauteed mushrooms, green beans with garlic and oil and Big Salad (every salad is Big Salad).

We finished dinner and had big bowls of Mint Stracciatella. It felt like a spring dinner with the light minty gelato punctuated by bittersweet chocolate. Okay, I am ready for the warm weather and all its exquisite offerings. The Seven Weeks of Want are over!!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


Yes, I was screaming! Get out! Get out there! Get outside now! It's beautiful and Philadelphia is ALIVE! Motorcycles, babies, the drive is jammed with people. I could barely weave through the strollers on my run. Holy crap we are the breeding type in Philly. Who knew? I mean, I subject my kids to the city, but I did not know I was in such company! Awesome.

So, what to do? Anything. Run the Rocky Steps!! I have yet to run, walk, drive past those steps without witnessing the Rocky run! It's glorious. Do the run, walk to Capo and get a gelato. That's the plan!

Get outside. NOW!

Friday, March 19, 2010


"Are you open?!"

"No, sorry man,... not till tomorrow."

[10 minutes later]

"Heyyyy! Where's the gelato?"

"Sorry, we're just getting things ready, we'll be open tomorrow!"

[8 minutes later]

"Finally!! You're open!?"

"Sorry mam, tomorrow."

[Woman storms off mumbling something inappropriate about our mothers]

So we've been slaving away at the Yunk cafe. Red, our newest proud Capogiro cafe manager, has been running around like a mad-man sweeping, stocking, tweaking, calibrating, coordinating and orchestrating the GRANDE reopening of CapoYunk! I personally repainted the chalkboard wall and jazzed up the A-frame. We've been working our buns off so you can get your Yunk on! Here's the breakdown;

We shall be open Wednesday - Sunday from 2-10. As the weather gets nicer we'll extend the hours.

To start off with, we're taking care of the basics; coffee, gelato, cookies etc. There will be exciting additions added as the summer goes by but, right now we just wanna get the doors open! Want something specific added to the Yunk menu? Ya bettah' axe somebody! Tell us about it. We'll do our best to make all your Capo dreams come true.

We look forward to seeing you there and enjoying another awesome summer nestled in the heart of South Philly. 

Come one, come all. We open tonight.

Viva la Yunk!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wishing you the best on this holiest of drinking days. May your mouth be stained green for a week and your pants be easily found in the morning. Be sure to send your designated driver a nice "Thanks for keeping us alive last night" gift for their efforts... they totally deserve it. 

"If You're Lucky Enough to Be Irish,

then you're lucky enough."

One of my favorite photos, from one of my favorite places - my father and I in Ireland. Time out for the Irish among the Italians!! Do yourselves right today by NOT behaving like everyone else! Car bombs could not be more inappropriate, and chances are good that you'll have a much better time bunkering down with an Irish Potato affogato (go Philly!!!) than running around town with springy shamrocks affixed to your noggin'. (But we'll still love you if you do!)

Enjoy this day with family if you can, with great music if you cannot, but Happy Irish Day, no matter what.


Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Beer Beer Beer Beer Beer Beer

Hello, everybody

Well, I guess Spring is really here. Heck, it's gonna be in the 60's this week! Yowza! So here at CapoPenn we are starting to transition out of the boozy, dark, sticky, malty beer zone and into the fruity, hoppy, poppy, easy-drinkin' beer dance party times.

We've got a case of Dogfish Heads "Aprihop" just waiting for all you fruit beer crazies to come in and snap it up. It balances herbacious, citrusy hop aromas and flavors with the Summery zing of stone fruits. It will conjure up memories of lying in warm grass with bees buzzing lazily about.
As soon as our keg of Smuttynose IPA kicks (and it will be soon), we will have Dogfish's 60 Minute IPA on. It's one of my favorite IPAs (Bell's Two Hearted is another) and makes me forget I'm not an IPA lover.

Just so the transition into sunny good times isn't too abrupt, we have plenty of Sly Fox's "Gang Aft Agly" ready to pour. "Gang Aft Agly" roughly translates to "oft go astray", referencing Robert Burn's famous bit about our best laid plans. At 7.5% abv, you just may go astray if you have too many pints of this Scotch "Wee Heavy" Ale; which is easy to do considering how lip-smackingly malty and deliciously easy to drink it is.

Also, we've been featuring a true butt-kicker of a beer at Penn that's become a bit of a staff favorite. Oskar Blue's "Gordon Ale" is an Imperial IPA that clocks in at a dangerous 8.7% abv. It will forever change your mind about what to expect from beers in a can. Again: proceed with caution. You will be lured in by the gorgeous red color and the caramelly malt richness. You'll be hooked by the snap of good hop flavor. Then, before you know it, you'll be singing Barry Manilow hits at top volume, arm-in-arm with some dental student from Iowa.

On the saner side, we're featuring a beer from Stone Brewing of Escondito, California for the first time. Most people know these guys for their insanely hoppy, head-exploding beers, but we are stocking bottles of their extremely sessionable Levitation Ale. It's an Amber Ale that you can kick back and drink with your pals without losing your mind. And, it's delicious.

And, because I want it to be Summer SO FREAKIN' BADLY, I just had to jump the gun and stock a Belgian White Ale. This one is from Allagash, and it's simply one of the most scrumptious, crisp and refreshing wheat beers out there. It really follows true to the Belgian style, with lots of spicy/fruity yeast character, so there's plenty of personality, too.

Okay! Let's get it on, people! Shuffle on in here in your flippy flops and Wayfarers and hoist a dag-gone pint in celebration of Spring! I, for one, am ready.

Bagels For Lunch And Dinner... O.M.G... YUMMY!

You've probably heard by now that we've got bagels. (I mean, I'm pretty sure almost EVERY good food blog in Philly has been raving about our H&H bagels since we started carrying them a few weeks ago). Then what am I here to share with you, you wonder? BAGELS FOR LUNCH AND DINNER!! Yes, we've got some savory bagel combos for the post-morning crowd that'll leave your mouth watering. My favorite? An everything bagel with chive cream cheese, avocado, tomato and a pinch of pepper. This creation is the essence of nom nom nom. Here, feast with your eyes...

Now, come in and savor with your mouth :)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Yunk out da' Trunk!!

So, we're swabbing the decks and dusting off the cups @ Capo-Yunk. We're straightening the Reitano's family's pictures on the walls and solemnly shaking our heads when we gaze out the back window into what our baristi had made the loveliest lil' garden in all of South Philadelphia. It'll come back, babies! Swear! (They worked SO hard... lets not talk about that).

Some of you guys got a little loco over us closing for the season down there... There were angry phone calls and threatening notes shoved anonymously into our doorway.

(If we get more this year, we'll scan 'em and then post 'em on the blog.... maybe frame 'em. Oh Philly, you guys are crazy adorable, please don't ever stop)

Capoyunk 2010 will be sure to bring back the sticky, yummy, summery goodness that you got so ticked off at us for taking away. That reminds me of the summer I caught Cursive on the Curiosa tour... there was a super drunk guy "standing" beside me screaming; "JUST PLAY THE HITS. WE WANT THE HITS! GIVE US THE HITS!"

We will indeed bring you, our adoring fans, the hits. Movie night? Done. Free popcorn and all. Sweet, holy lattes, cappuccinos, affogatos and did I mention gelato and sorbetto out the yin-yang?! We're even gonna get Steph to whip Yunk up some of her new cookies, granola and jams just for the occasion. All because we you. Please don't yell at us anymore... we're sensitive.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Are you also having the perfect Spring day??

Toro, my English Bulldog, wants to know. What did you cook yesterday? Did you sit in the park? Did you have gelato? How do you prefer your espresso? I have to say, as he noses around the kitchen waiting for something to be dropped, it was pretty much the perfect day, weather-wise, which means as far as I'm concerned, it was the perfect day. 20th Street was hopping all through the afternoon, ran some errands, and at day's end I'm sipping on the perfect Manhattan (DON'T SHAKE IT!) while the boy toils in the kitchen making artichokes with pancetta, Toulouse sausage, radishes with salt and butter and pork loin marinated in Dijon, honey, parsley and sherry vinegar and smoked over hickory. I'll rent him out to you if you want dinner made, sometime. Just let a girl know. (Incidentally, radishes are about to hit their most perfect - slice em up with a little salted butter and I'm telling you, it's one of the greatest, most simple starters you can conjure.)
I spent my day off Sunday painting our backyard. Yes, painting the backyard. For those of you not familiar with the South Philly Row Home, that involves the three cinderblock walls and the back of our house, which previously resembled something of a prison yard. Now with a coat of white paint, life has been brought to the lifeless, and I'm so itching to bombard our little space with plants. Most of which I will kill, but c'est la vie.
My question to you is, how do you usher in Spring? Plants? Parties? Walk around the city? The BBC dance that Steph, Kamala and Dan do around the Big Kitchen?? Capogiro? I heard so many people today say they were "finally ready" to bring the gelato back into their daily routine.
What's your "it's Spring" celebration involve??

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

We Are So PUMPED For This Weather!!!

We are enjoying our fourth, maybe fifth cup of coffee and complaining that we need to take naps on the 50 lb. sacks of sugar. Kamala, Dan and I are laughing pretty hard. We have a huge case of the "f&*@ its". You know what I mean. We are talking about anything BUT work; people we hate on the train, chili dogs, coffee, the pending Philly soda tax (we approve), what makes us happy, gay political scandals, tattoos, and we all agree that children dressed as cheerleaders are creepy and that we could use another arm. Dan is freely and gleefully tapping his feet and doing beat box and Kamala is getting her poke on (they are building her her own booth for the tattoo shop!) I just made Dan cry by demanding he make more coffee. HE DRANK IT ALL! He's making coffee. Thank you Dan.

We really need to get back to work. The weather is turning and I think that we are about to explode. 60 degrees today in lovely Philadelphia. We are gonna be busy. After a gruesome winter, this is so sweet. The cafes are hopping, we have new products and it is warm out. WARM!!! We are busy. You want to know what it is like working for Capo? Kamala thinks it is functional chaos. Lately, with the weather changing, we have been unruly and jumpy. Kamala wants Dan to have a big party at his new house, Dan wants to yodel and I just want a nap.

Enjoy the weather, get out and take the dog for a walk. Better yet, take my dogs for a walk. Or just take them. Rittenhouse Square should be packed and we all need to shake that winter funk off! This is the dance we do when we need to shake off the funk...

Monday, March 8, 2010

Check Out The Bagel Lovin!!

Oh Grub Street!


This past week was the Festival of Colors in India celebrating Spring. During the festival, people smear color, called gulal, on each other's face and splash colored water, called rang. They dance and sing in the streets and have parties. Young and old, together, seamlessly. It makes me happy.

I want Holi. Can you imagine how much fun that would be? After this horrid snow and chilling cold. Look at those colors? The vibrant happy, almost violently happy colors. It makes me happy.

I want to throw pink water filled balloons out my window and have the person I peg look up and smile. I think I will just have to settle for Tiffin. Honestly, it is not really settling. Tiffin is delicious and I could eat Saag Paneer every day. I love ordering home delivery. The cutest guys show up wearing ties and freshly combed hair. It makes me happy.

Do you think they'd mind if I hit them with a pink water filled balloon?

Friday, March 5, 2010

I Just Wanted the Best Beer in the World

I didn't know it was the Best Beer in the World, and the truth is that I wasn't really that interested. When I planned on heading over to Monk's this week for Russian River Monday Madness, I had Temptation and Supplication in mind. I figured that maybe, if I felt like it afterward, I'd try the much lauded Pliny the Younger and see what all the hoopla was about. As it turns out, I was terribly deluded.

Why? Well, because every other beer geek from within a few hundred miles had the same idea. The hype over Vinnie Cilurzo's monster triple IPA has apparently whipped the craft beer community into a hop-doped frenzy, and Monk's was completely mobbed the minute they opened the doors at 11:30.

But...but...I wanted the funky, barrel aged stuff. I don't really care about an 11%abv hop-infused cluster bomb with the potential to blow my face clean off. I wanted the impossibly complex, sour, woody, winey wonders that Russian River is the master of. These beers cost about $30 a bottle, are difficult to get ahold of, and I was really looking forward to just a single glass of each of these wonders.

If I sound like a big baby now, you should have seen me at the bar when I realized all that was left on tap were the two IPAs available year-round: Blind Pig and Pliny the Elder. Then you should have seen my pout get deeper when the bartender informed me they were even out of bottles of the good stuff (I had decided to bite the bullet and pony up the big dollars). I grudgingly ordered a pint of Pliny the Elder and sulked. I sulked! I sat at one of the best beer bars in the country (world?), drinking one of the finest American IPAs currently brewed while rare March sunshine poured in through the front window, in the company of good friends, and I sulked like a spoiled eight-year-old.

If you have not tasted beers aged with the funky yeast beast Brettanomyces Bruxellensis, then I heartily encourage you to seek some out. American breweries Jolly Pumpkin, Lost Abbey, and Russian River are doing amazing things with wild/open fermentation and barrel aging with Brett (as well as Pediococcus and Lactobacillus bacteria). The Belgian Trappist brew Orval is delicious and fairly easy to find and--if you find yourself wishing to test the limits of your threshold of sourness in a beer--Kriek beers and Lambics by Brasserie Cantillon await.

My story gets less pathetic here. The bar started to clear out, my friends and I had a little more elbow room, and the pint I was drinking started lightening my mood. We found out that the bar did have some other bottles available: Consecration and Salvation. So, we did the only sensible thing and ordered them both.

The Consecration was tart, sweet and complex. We sat and inhaled the amazing aromas issuing from our tulip glasses and grinned like morons. The smell is beguiling, like super ripe fruit in a bath of balsalmic vinegar and vanilla. It grips you deep in your jawbones and sets your mouth salivating. Tart, vinous flavors yield to a sweet and lingering finish. Awesome.

Salvation is a deep amber ale in the style of a Belgian Strong Dark Ale. Incredible concentrations of various dried fruit flavors unfold on the tongue and evoke fig Newtons, prunes and even...Tootsie Rolls. Luscious mouthfeel, and a balanced sweetness. It could easily stand in for dessert.

Well, didn't the fog of my disappointment clear in a hurry? How silly of me.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Food Thoughts for March

So, two things happened yesterday that precipitated this thought process - the first was brought on by Jeffrey Steingarten. I have to admit, I'm a huge fan of his writing. I really enjoy the honesty and heart he brings to his words, and his passion about food and learning comes through louder than his occasionally curmudgeon-esque personality on Iron Chef. So when my brother gave me "It Must've Been Something I Ate" for Christmas, I tucked it away happily waiting for a good day to start it, which turns out was yesterday. In the introduction, he brings up a question to ask yourself that will, he says, reveal quite a bit about your attitudes toward food. He asks you to read two statements, and choose which fits your personality best:

1. "I feel awful this morning, my skin is covered with bumps, and I can hardly see straight. It must've been something I ate."


2. "I feel light as a feather this morning, my mind is clear as a bell, and I've got a smile on my face for the whole human race. It must've been something I ate."

A few seconds to guess which one I could relate to more...ok so yeah, it's #2. Shortly after reading this my boyfriend and I set about to making dinner - hanger steak with parsnip puree, an herb salad and potatoes and mushrooms cooked in duck fat. I made a spice cake with creme fraiche and pear compote. After eating, we settled in for the night only to be interrupted by a phone call from one of my favorite people saying that the bar we used to frequent in college was closing for good. That night. Now, when I say frequented I mean...I used to live around the corner. Brunch every Sunday. Not a place you'd bring your mother. Ever. Best jukebox in town. It served me my first illegal beer, as well as my first legal beer. A crux of life for those of us who lived in Newark, and a place we all hold near and dear. I got off the phone with Seth and sat on my couch, somewhat dazed. After a minute it became clear what had to happen. I put my shoes on and got back on the phone "We'll meet you there in an hour". Not long after, I found myself in a scene that could have fallen out of five years ago - the same people, most of them had rushed in like I did, after a long hiatus, to have one last beer on the porch.

I could lie and say that I'm sitting here, unaffected by the closing, but in actuality I'm so nostalgic and borderline melancholy it shocks me. That some (let's be honest) pretty crappy bar brought together so many good people, people who still mean the world to me even though I haven't seen most of them in years, and fostered so many memories and good times is no longer around just...brings the end of an era. Yes I know, restaurants and bars come in and out of existence like fruit flies but some things were never meant to leave, and in your mind you never really thought they would.

I guess the funny thing is, on my way to work this morning I felt better than I have in a long time. I got the same amount of sleep (if not less) than I usually do, routines went the way they always have, but as I write this it's abundantly clear to me - it usually is because of something I ate (or drank) that I feel this way. Or because of the people that came together to celebrate and share the food and drink, and each other. So, cheers, East End Cafe. Thanks for it all.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


You wanted got em!
With house made, low fat AND regular spreads...
home made preserves, Koeze's organic peanut butter AND AVOCADOS!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Homemade is not a new concept at Capogiro. In fact (and you all should know this by now), each one of our 24 gelati and sorbetti are hand-crafted on premises every morning. And not to mention the swirling napkin towers we hand-craft daily. But now, we're getting our hands into some more stuff...


Capo'reos!! (self-explanatory)

Chocolate Chip Cookies!!!

and Blackberry Ginger and Strawberry Preserves!!!!

All homemade by our very own Stephanie Reitano... Well, what are you waiting for? We don't just make them to look good (they do look sooooo good though, don't they!) Get your butt in here and get some goodies.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Sarah hates it when we post pictures of her.

And she'll probably yell at us for posting this... but, we're taking our chances. Sarah Bonkowski is our friendly Capogiro general manager, writer, foodie and drooling dog aficionado.

HAPPY [belated] BIRTHDAY,.. leap year lady!!! (How old are you now, 6?) We're so thankful to have you in our Capogiro family! If you see her anytime soon, let her know how wonderful she is and how she doesn't look a day over 4 and a half.
Thanks for all your hard work, Sarah! We love having you around.