Italian. 4 North Parade Avenue, Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 6LX.
Phone: 01865 54812 „
Went for dinner at Luna Caprese last night and was expecting the food to be good judging by the reviews I had read on various internet sites. Very sadly let down, I had the crab ravioli which was fairly tasteless and I suspect had been microwaved before as parts of the starter was boiling hot in places and didn't cool down for some time. My friend was extremely disappointed with his starter as well - very substandard. We ended up having a leg of lamb and a linguine both of which were very uninspired - the sautee potatoes were totally saturated with fat. Will not be revisiting.
On our first date I took my girlfriend to Luna Caprese in North Parade, Oxford. Although it was empty at 7 (weekday), it filled up and by 8 it was about half full. The food was delicious and arrived with perfect timing, not too soon and certainly not late! I had a beautiful crab soup to start, creamy but light. The crab was first class. To continue the maritime theme (the walls of the restaurant are covered with murals of the sea, mermaids, and fishing nets!), I had as main course salmon tagliatelle. Not too big, but again beautifully prepared. My girlfriend had the veal, which was cooked just right. The service is wonderful. Very italian, the head waiter is a real card, and will recommend things with absolute authority. Some people might find him a bit overzealous though. The cost of our meal, including a nice, light Italian white wine, was around £40, which I thought was good value for money. All in all, a lovely evening, at a restaurant I would have no hesitation to recommend.
North Parade is a gem. In an area that is otherwise almost entirely residential, this street provides of a haven of fine food in the form of its two pubs, and its fine restaurants. Without a shadow of a doubt the best of these restaurants is Luna Caprese. This wonderful, wonderful restaurant was first opened in 1962. The fact that the owners today are those that first opened the establishment's doors almost forty years ago speaks volumes about the quality of the food that has been served here since it opened. To walk into this small, and dark restaurant is to take a walk back in time. Leave the 21st century, and step back into the 1960s; admire the plastic lobsters and shellfish, and the nets that adorn the walls and ceilings of this place. The decor does not seem to have changed since the opening night. None of the prententious glace panelling, strip lighting and chic simplicity of modern establishments here, and how welcome that is. The head waiter here is a charming man. Although his faultless Italian might lead you to think otherwise, he is in fact Spanish. As well as speaking perfect Italian, English (and of course Spanish!) he speaks excellent French, so guests from the most far-flung corners of Europe need not fear about making themselves understood. My advice is always to follow his recommendations. Although all the food is excellent, the head waiter's knowledge of the specials is not to be sniffed at. Everything, EVERYTHING, is home made. That includes the delicious golden bread rolls that are served with the meal. They are often brought to your table still, since they chefs make them every day. The food here is rich. If you are looking for a steamed leek on a rice cracker with a squeeze of lime juice, you have come to the wrong place. But if you are after a hearty (but not indelicate) meal, if you yearn for real food, for a true taste of Italy, then you have come to the right place. The menu changes wit
h the seasons- in winter for example, there is a delicious pheasant in barolo wine with chestnuts that is out of this world. For starters I would recommend fresh sardines, grilled and served with lemon juice and oil, or calamari (not the rubbery rubbish of lesser establishments), or mushrooms stuffed with pate, or pate. There is no question that this place's speciality is veal. Veal with sage and parma ham, veal with lemon, veal with prawns, mushrooms and cream, veal with aubergine and cheese- you name it. Always cooked to perfection, it is served with a wide variety of vegetables. I recommend the friend courgettes- little strips in light crispy batter. If you are not taken by veal, do try, when in season, the lamb chops (I guarantee you will be blown over), or some of the fish. If you are nuts and none of that appeals, then why not try a pasta dish. There is the rich meat filled tortellini aurora, or the ultra heavy carbonara, or the more simple sciue sciue (tomoato). If that has not finished you off, go for one of the wonderfully naughty puddings- homemade tiramisu, or apple cake, or cassata are especially good. I really mean it when I say that this is one of the best restaurants EVER and a journey to Oxford without a meal here is a wasted journey. Not many people other than locals know about this place, so it is well worth going to for a quiet lunch, although it does hot up in the evening. It is the perfect place to wow a date. Needless to say, all this comes at a price. You are looking at £4 a starter, £8-15 a main course and so on. However, it you are saving up for a special outing, I promise you will think it worth it.