Barbiere’s Villa Capri Italian Cuisine
In this day and age, it’s never surprising to hear about a restaurant closing. Truth be told, many of them just don’t live up to the standards and the expectations of the modern consumer and others can’t keep the doors open in this current economic climate.
That’s why it’s always so refreshing to hear about a restaurant that is doing it right–and has been doing so for over 45 years.
The Villa Capri in Marquette is one of those restaurants. Founded in 1967 by Nick and Joyce Barbiere, the Villa Capri has been providing residents and visitors with hearty, homemade Italian cuisine with emphasis on their secret family sauce recipes.
“Even I don’t know all the family secrets,” says Tessa Bentlage, the granddaughter of the original founders and our host for the review.
Bentlage practically grew up in the Villa Capri, watching as her father, Michael Barbiere, and aunt, Terry Barbiere, current owners, worked side-by-side with their father and mother. Now Bentlage’s daughter, 10-month-old Stella, will be part of the fourth generation keeping up the family tradition.
The Villa Capri’s kitchen sent out a great variety of pasta dishes to the table and each one brought its own distinct flavor. But one thing that didn’t take long to take center stage was the sauces.
For the chicken tetrazzini, a mild red sauce is completed with mushrooms and shredded chicken. It all comes together into a light, but flavor-packed, combination. Served over the tasty whole-wheat pasta (any pasta can be requested–though the dish is normally served over spaghetti), this dish was satisfying and filling.
But the pasta that stole the show was none other than the Villa Capri’s lasagna. This dish can come with either classic homemade meat or homemade tomato sauce, or “on a cloud,” sitting atop the delicate homemade cheese sauce that is featured on the Villa’s menu. It doesn’t matter which way you have it because it’s filling, packed full of authentic Italian flavor and will make you regret ever having wasted money on lasagna at those chain restaurants.
Have any of these dishes served with the restaurant’s hand-rolled meatballs and you won’t be sorry. They are dense, flavorful and well-spiced, and are a perfect complement to any dish you order or as a stand-alone snack. Consider trying the new meatball sandwich that was recently unveiled on the menu.
If there was one thing that Bentlage was most proud of at the Villa Capri, it was the care that comes in prepping the restaurant’s well-known steaks. Each steak is prepared by hand, all of the fat trimmed away and then seared to perfection on a grill. Don’t worry about having it not cooked to your liking–the Villa Capri’s staff is methodical in their approach to making it just the way the customer likes it.
A great accompaniment to the steak is the homemade barbecue sauce available with it–a creation of Michael Barbiere’s. It provides a nice tang to a bite of steak without covering the meat’s natural flavor. Even if you don’t usually use sauce with your steak, give it a try–we were impressed.
A great success for a reason
With 45 years of service under their belts, the Barbiere family knows what makes a great restaurant. The prices are decent, especially for the amount of food you get, and the recipes are worth exploring on multiple visits. Don’t shy away from their pizza–a local favorite with its thin, crunchy crust and hand-prepped ingredients–or their desserts, either, and consider trying some of the newest items as well, such as the hamburger. If you want to grab a drink, there’s the Gondola Boat Bar attached to the restaurant, too.
What makes the Villa Capri so successful isn’t the steaks or even the outstanding sauces–it’s the family atmosphere that greets you as soon as you walk in the door and are greeted warmly by Joyce Barbiere in the same fashion she likely greeted customers when the doors first opened in 1967.
In short, the Villa Capri has the right recipe for success–quality food, reasonable prices and four generations of Italian cooks and their family, making you feel right at home.