By Anna-Marie Menhenott
FORT PIERCE -- Nestled away in the Colonnade's Shopping Center on Hutchinson Island is one of the area's most delightful spots for dinner.
The warm, friendly vibe makes first-time customers to Capone's Hideaway feel like family. Those who have dined there before, as my dining companion had, are warmly greeted with hugs from owners Beth and Sal Holleman.
We visited Capone's on a Wednesday evening, and the intimate dining areas, including the outside dining tables, were full to capacity.
The attentive staff, which donned 1940s gangster-themed costumes, complete with Tommy gun necklaces and era-appropriate hats, seated us quickly and went over their extensive wine list. Although we passed on wine, the wide-ranging list would impress any connoisseur. There is also a full bar and several beers on tap for those who enjoy spirits with dinner.
We browsed the menu, and found a vast array of items from escargot to lobster ravioli.
Our waitress recommended we start our meal with fried artichokes, and I'm glad she did. The lightly floured artichoke hearts were served in a delicious lemon, butter and caper dipping sauce that had just the right amount of tartness.
"One of our most popular items right now is the mango and papaya salsa," said Mrs. Holleman. "Everybody loves it. Sal evolves with the customers," she said about her husband.
We were only a few bites into our appetizer when Sal sent out a plate of potato gnocchi carbonara, butterfly shrimp in a cream sauce over a bed of spinach and tomatoes and a bowl of seafood chowder, full with clams, shrimp and snapper.
The potato gnocchi carbonara included a creamy cheese sauce, with bacon, mushrooms and onions. The bacon added an amazing flavor to this popular appetizer.
The butterfly shrimp, which lay in an amazing gorgonzola cream sauce, were cooked to perfection and created a wonderful dynamic with the enticing spinach. The seafood chowder was incredible. The flavors burst upon every bite, with the snapper melting away and the clams, in contrast, giving a tasty bite to the soup.
Dinners are accompanied by dinner rolls and either a garden salad or Caesar salad. We chose the latter, and were impressed with the delightful dressing and tasty croutons. The salad can be accompanied by fresh black pepper and freshly grated parmesan cheese.
"Sal really listens to the customers and caters to their needs. If we don't have something on the menu, he'll make it for you. We have people call all the time for special soups and entrées and Sal is always willing to make them," she said.
For our entrées, I chose the blackened chicken Alfredo and my companion, without hesitation, picked the macadamia crusted snapper.
The chicken Alfredo was completed by a light, creamy sauce and flawless pasta that had just the right amount of bite to it. The build-up of heat from the chicken was delightful, making every mouthful a pleasant experience.
I tried my companion's snapper, which looked absolutely amazing. Once I took a bite, I knew why she didn't hesitate in asking for it. The rather large piece of fish was cooked to perfection. The coat of chopped macadamia nuts added a sweet crunch to the impeccably prepared fish. The snapper was presented on a bed of creamy mashed sweet potatoes and side of fresh green beans.
The dessert menu offers many homemade specialties, but the house specialty, the almond basket, had been saved for us.
"We sell out of the baskets all the time. If someone knows they're coming in, they'll call ahead to make sure we have one for them. They're just that popular," said Mrs. Holleman.
The basket is made by Mrs. Holleman who takes great pride in her amazing creation. The chewy, almond basket is full with raspberry sorbet, fresh berries, whipped cream and raspberry sauce. If I had any idea how incredible this dessert was, I would have saved more room. Next time, I'll definitely remember to do so.
Dinner was capped off with a cappuccino that was accompanied by biscotti and a sugar stick.
Their specials are always changing and early bird takes place from 4:30-6 nightly. They also cater regularly.
Capone's Hideaway is located at 1102 Seaway Drive in Fort Pierce. To make a reservation, call (772) 460-5000.