Restaurant

An Evening at Capo’s

capos logoIf you’ve never been to Capo’s Restaurant/Speakeasy, you are missing out. That is, assuming you enjoy tremendous food, coupled with a unique choice of delightful cocktails, service that is second to none and being treated like you are apart of the family the moment the door opens. If none of this is appealing to you, then by all means crawl back under your rock.

Capo’s is more than just a restaurant, it’s an experience. Your experience starts from the moment you are greeted at the door (which by the way, you have to tell the man who opens a little hidden door revealing only his face the password before he’ll let you in). Once he opens the door, you are greeted with a big smile and he welcomes you as if you were his favorite relative. He then walks you to your table (or the bar if you choose to start your night off with a cocktail and a large poster of Al Capone watching over you). The entrance alone sets the stage for what will surly be an unforgettable evening.

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I start off at the bar. Not just because the bartenders are beautiful, on top of it and serve some amazing drinks the likes of which I have never had anywhere else, but also because I enjoy meeting new people and every time I am at Capo’s it seems the bar is full of people who want to be one big happy family. If you can’t make new friends at Capo’s, you may need to look into counseling. Just saying.

Oh, and that guy who let you into the place (we’ll call him Ziggy) he also comes by periodically to make sure you are ok, to see if you are in need of anything and in general just making sure you know he knows your in the house and you mean something pretty good.  It’s always nice to be treated with respect, and owner Nico Santucci makes sure his entire staff masters this fine art.

Let’s not forget those magicians in the kitchen who create this most amazing food. I like to refer to the them as the Cirque du Sol-Capo’s show. They not only make mouth-watering to-die-for unique creations, they do it in what seems like a well-orchestrated syncopated theatrical show. With multi-level cooking ovens and broilers and refrigerators and I don’t know what all all kind of grouped together, these performers work in and around and through and on top of each other never missing a beat, dropping anything or even touching the others. And what makes it even better to see, is when one of them gets the fire going on the grill and it back lights them all as if they were on stage. On a busy night, you’ll get to see this numerous times. By the way, this is best seen from the bar (great way to start off right!).

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After a “Nicotini” (Martini named after its creator Nico himself – the recipe I knew not to ask for) and the making of some new friends, Ziggy escorts me to my table which is a booth near the piano overlooking the entire room. I felt like a king. A great lounge singer just pouring his heart our in song to a full house, one of the most comfortable booths I have ever sat in, a room full of family and one hell of a meal to be consumed.

The food – where to begin. I started off with the Meatballs and Peppers. It comes with 2 huge meatballs (Nico’s has the biggest balls in the business) sitting atop a base of sauce that can’t accurately be described with words. The recipe is rumored to be from the Capone family. It’s so good, I don’t even want to know how it’s made. All I know is if I had to choose my last meal on earth, it would those meatballs.  Imagine the best meal you have ever had, and how you couldn’t get enough of it and talked about it for weeks. Well, forget that meal because this one drove that one to the desert and buried it 6′ under. THIS is food-porn baby!

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The menu is perfect. Why? Because it isn’t 8 pages long. Sure it’s kind of of hard to read in the dimly lit room but they give you a flashlight, quite your bitching. The best thing about the menu is that I can pick my meal my favorite way – I open it up, and put my finger down and whatever it lands on is what I get. And – it is always freaking awesome! Remember the Cirque du Sol-Capo’s folks? That’s right – they know what they’re doing and I know I am in good hands. I have had probably 7 different dishes so far – each one perfect. I consider the menu a listing of all the dishes that came in first place so they reside together in a nice binder.

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Lets not forget about service. The staff works their butts off and even though they may get quite hectic at times, you would never know it by their demeanor or service output. They give it their all and if you can’t respect that, go somewhere else. Family is about respect, and they are family.

Needless to say, each time I leave Capo’s my belly is full and even though I know I may have over done it, I am already looking forward to doing it again.

My hat is off and my Martini glass raised in appreciation to Nico and his entire staff. The utmost professionals and masters of the culinary experience.

SUMMARY: If you’ve been to Capo’s, go back. If you haven’t been to Capo’s, get your ass over there and report back to me!

– JJS – on twitter @johnjsimpson

P.S. – as for Ziggy – turns out he can play the piano like it was going out of style. A man of many talents so I’m told.

 

Capo’s is owned by Chicago-native Nico Santucci and is located at 5675 W. Sahara Ave, Las vegas NV  702-364-2276

Capo’s website

Follow Capo’s on twitter at @CaposRestaurant

Follow Nico on twitter at @NicoSantucci

 

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Music

Review: Ashley Hamilton & The Lonely Hearts “Act One” EP

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When I buy an album I sit down in a dark room, put on my headphones, close my eyes and listen to it start to finish. I give it one chance and I either love it or I simply delete it. I listened to this EP start to finish 5 times in a row. While that, in and of itself, should tell you how I feel about this EP, I will take it upon myself to take you an a written journey as I share with you an explanation of just why I couldn’t stop listening to this awesome EP.

One caveat before I begin. Since my very first recolection of listening to music, I have always listened to it as a musical composition – this includes the vocals. I’ve always listened to the vocals as an instrument and never paid attention to what the songs were about. To this day, I couldn’t repeat more than a chorus to any song – including ones I’ve been listening to for 40 years.

 

Technical Exploration

I loved the “sound” of this entire EP. The way the kick drum, snare drum and crash symbols were treated, the intimate yet environmental characteristics brought out of the acoustic guitar tracks, the natural sounds of the vocal tracks & the spatial characteristics given to each part of each song all lend themselves to serving the delightful songs as well as to serving the listener. So much so in fact, I found myself enjoying the sound of the EP as much as I did the music itself. The engineers & producers did an awesome job and obviously had great talent both in terms of technical aptitude and great musicians to work with. It must have been a treat for all parties involved to work with such talent.

 

Ah, the Music!

There are two tracks that I can’t get out of my head though I truly enjoy all of them. The one that sticks out the most for me is “S’ All Good”. The song gets me in from the very first note (beautiful-voiced, harmonious backup singers singing a melodic structure) immediately followed up a guitar track ( 2 guitars, one on the left and one on the right balancing the relationship) in a call-and-response type partnership which quickly takes you down a relaxed path with a pleasing creatively placed harmonica leading to the first verse which starts to with a confident, strong and yet pleasingly vulnerable voice of Ashley. In a few short bars, the stage was beautifully set and the listener properly prepared for a wonderful performance. The rest of the song only gets better.

In the 2nd part of the bridge in “S’ All Good”, Ashley has a direct call-and-response component where he and a fabulous female vocalist named Jamie Wyatt (follow her on twitter at @jaimewyattmusic) have a dialog back and forth (awesomely placed opposite each other in the soundstage). Though may be passed over by those not critically listening, this is an awesome part. The sound, positioning, timing and melodic structure just pop.

The other song I simply can’t get out of my mind – “Ovaltine”. Aside from a melodic structure that I sill can’t get out my head (it’s a damn catchy song!), I drew an immediate liking to the bridge when I was transported back to my childhood. It wasn’t just because my grandma always gave us kids Ovaltine when we visited her on Sunday afternoons. She had an 8-track player (did I loose some of you here) and in it she always had a Jerry Reed tape. If you were a Jerry Reed fan, you will understand what I mean. Suffice to say, this song is just full of all sorts a great stuff. Now that I think of it, I may have to go out and buy some Ovaltine.

The fact I specifically call out two songs that stick out in my head the most doesn’t take anything away from the other delights on the EP. “Oh Baby”, “Lifetime” and “Half of It” are all equally wonderful works of art. Each showcasing amazing talent, emotional outpouring by each and every musician and equally by the technical folks that put it all together.

 

A Few Words of Ashley Hamilton’s Voice

Ashley simply has an awesome voice as was so eloquently demonstrated so well in each & every song on this EP. A tremendous amount of emotion, control, range and simple gut-feeling is obviously behind every note he sings. His transitions, timing, dynamic range, tonal qualities and just his natural voice all lend themselves to a truly great outpouring of vocal excellence. It always a treat to hear a the real voice of a truly great vocalist. I could easily listen to any of his songs acapella-style.

 

Summary

I LOVE this EP. The writing, the arrangements, the instrumentation, the mixing and the awesome vocals – all of which take me on an incredible journey each & very time I hear them. And that, in my book, is what music is all about.

My hats off to Ashley Hamilton and the Lonely Hearts – job well done.

JJS – fan for life!

 

PS – I hadn’t heard of Ashley Hamilton until I came across the TV show “Stewarts & Hamiltons” (Sundays, 9/8c on E!). That show is solely responsible for an additional artist residing on my iPhone (and that’s a relatively small community).

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