Ristorante Capellini is a popular Italian restaurant in downtown San Mateo, near the Caltrain station. Since 1990, this beautiful Pat Kuleto designed restaurant has been packing them in. It looks pretty unassuming on the outside, but once you open the door.. Our last visit was in the Summer of 2012.
Decor, Vibe – Capellini has beautiful rustic Italian decor with some very nice art and large decorative lamps, big open kitchen, an elegant bar area, dining area upstairs and downstairs, and counter seating by the kitchen. Families, couples, large birthday parties were present, with most well dressed folks in the 40’s and 50’s. When a place is pretty filled on a Wednesday night, you know it is a hit. It was even busier on a Friday night.
Ristorante Capellini Menu Pictures (Click to zoom into any picture)
They have ever changing weekly dinner specials.
Insalata Con Barbabietole ($9.50) Fresh red and gold beets, endive, radicchio, argula with Caprini cheese, roasted walnuts and a balsamic vinaigrette was a very good salad, albiet one on the sweet side. The dressing and candied walnuts made this a salad that even kids would devour.
Insalata Con Pera ($11.95) salad of pears, endive, radicchio, arugula, candied walnuts and imported gorgonzola cheese with house made champagne shallot vinagrette was also on the sweet side with lots of fruit.
Salmone alla Griglia ($21.95) Fresh wild Alaskan Coho salmon on mesclun greens topped with a tomato, onion, caper, olive and basil salsa was excellent, mainly due to the freshness of the fish. We asked for medium rare but it came to us overcooked at a medium well. In spite of this, the fish was still flavorful and tasty, a testament of good cooking.
Duck Rissoto ($17.95) was a dinner special that was good but heavy on its cilantro flavor. Italian arborio rice with smoky shredded duck could have been more plentiful. Another night its was Gamberetti Risotto ($21.95). 5 nice sized prawns topped off a large risotto with low key flavors.
Gnocchi Bolognose ($14.95) was a top notch dish, which is a traditional potato gnocchi served with a meat sauce and shaved Grana cheese. Good hearty quantities of soft home made pasta atop a meaty sauce with strong wine flavor and tasty tender chunks of beef.
Lasagna al forno ($17.95) was house made and very good. Rich, cheesy, a favorite here.
Salsiccia Pizza ($12.95) Classic very thin crust, Fennel sausage, pomodoro sauce, garlic, mozzarella and parmesan cheeses was slightly above average. The pizza was pretty big, but the copious quantities of sausage with cumin were pretty bland. The crust on the side was crunchy but got soggy toward the middle due to all the grease. Some fresh tomatoes rounded out the pizza.
Margherita Pizza ($11.50) had lots of chopped fresh tomatoes and mozzarella cheese atop their flatbread like crust. Same softness towards the middle. Pretty average even though they have a wood fired oven.
Salmone Affumicato e caviale ($18.95) was a cold pizza that was better for lunch or brunch. Lots of salmon and 2 kinds of caviar.
Penne Pasta ($13.90) Tube pasta with a butter sauce was split into two plates and was pretty average and not very big.
Ristorante Capellini had decent service, but our server seemed to have too many tables, reducing access. This was true on several occasions. Capellini’s food and decor was very good especially for San Mateo, no wonder it is packed. The focus is on their pastas. Dishes like pizza are just fair. You’ll find better Italian at places like Perbacco, Delfina or A16 in San Francisco, but in San Mateo only Acquapazza and Osteria Coppa are competitors. Redwood City’s Donato Enoteca is also worthy.