In the history of La Capannina there is all the love of a family for Capri.
Almost a century of activity for the restaurant that has been able to find its strong point in respect of tradition.
The history of Capri is dotted with characters who, with passion and hard work, have been able to give birth to the splendid realities that still animate the streets and squares of the island today.
Among them is the De Angelis family who, in 1931, opened La Capannina in Capri, a restaurant that they currently manage, but which over time has evolved into something new, without ever betraying its principles. Francesco and Renata De Angelis, grandson of the founders and “heirs” of their teachings, told us about their family’s adventure, between respect for tradition and the desire to renew themselves.
La Capannina restaurant has a very respectable history behind it. When and how was it born and how is it intertwined with your family history?
“The restaurant was opened in 1931, so it has now almost reached a century of activity. Mine, together with my sister Renata, is the third of four generations that have managed it, and the passion for this world continues to be handed down in our family. It all started with my paternal grandfather, an Abruzzese cook who lived in Rome and moved to Capri to work at the restaurant of the Hotel Quisisana, where he met my grandmother. After that work experience, he first opened a restaurant in Piazza Umberto, and then moved to the current location and thus founded La Capannina. My maternal grandfather, on the other hand, was from Ravenna, and after learning the art of maitre in France and working in the club where Édith Piaf performed, he moved to the USA where he met my grandmother. My parents Antonio and Aureis met in America, and when my father brought my mother here to the island, that American girl immediately fell in love with Capri. Now they, my sister Renata and I continue the work of my grandparents; Renata in particular is very good on wines and gives me a great help. And then there are my nephews Andrea, Piero and Matteo, who are willing to follow in our footsteps”.
What is La Capannina today? What characteristics do they represent?
“I believe that what best represents us is the profound respect for the culinary tradition of Capri. Our recipes are still what they used to be; in fact, it is okay to revisit a dish, but without ever distorting it, because we believe it is right to offer those who want to savor the cuisine of Capri the original traditional recipes. This philosophy of ours has led to the development of a great affection with customers: I have been wandering around the restaurant tables since I was a child, and many of the customers who came then continue to frequent La Capannina”.
What do you think distinguishes La Capannina from other restaurant businesses on Capri?
“I believe that each of us does a different job and pursues his own ideal of catering. Ours is based on two cornerstones: in addition to focusing on always fresh products, another element that distinguishes us is a deep and sincere hospitality towards the customer.
We firmly believe that, for our island, hospitality must be a fundamental element, which has also been part of the history of Capri for centuries.
When, during the winter period, our restaurant, like most of the catering businesses on the island, was closed, my grandmother, who had a small guesthouse upstairs, opened the doors of the house and let the guests of the pension eat in his living room! I told this anecdote to make you understand how we understand hospitality more as a vocation than a profession”.
Each restaurateur has his favorite dishes. What are the dishes in your kitchen that you care most about?
“Our ravioli alla caprese, prepared with my grandmother’s recipe, are definitely a cult dish. We also make an excellent stuffed squid, with the typical caciotta that we also use for the filling of ravioli, seasoned with fresh tomato and basil and which we also made in a vegan version. In general, the product we use the most is certainly fish, which we cook in all ways, such as in potato or courgette crust. We have also recovered the ancient tradition of legumes, which today unfortunately is being lost: on the menu we have a delicious puree of broad beans with escarole and a puree of chickpeas with prawns. In short, we follow the recipes of the past, perhaps revisiting them, but without ever distorting their essence”.