Intimate and romantic, Caruso’s is a quaint family-run spot in Capitola Village that specializes in rustic Italian cuisine with a focus on food from Tuscany.
Open Tuesday-Saturday from 5-8:30pm for limited indoor seating, patio seating and takeout, they also import all of their wine from Italy and like to offer specific pairings with their menu items. Melissa Serriteno has owned Caruso’s for the last seven years, after becoming friends with the previous owner and helping there part-time. GT spoke with her recently about the menu and what makes the food so special.
What sets apart your Tuscan cuisine?
MELISSA SERRITENO: One thing that stands out for us is that we make everything homemade from scratch. All of our bread and pizza dough is handmade fresh every single day, and the things that people know us for are our pastas such as gnocchi, ravioli, lasagna and wood-fired crispy thin-crust pizza. One example of our focus on Tuscan food is that we don’t do meatballs; instead we do a red Bolognese meat sauce with smaller pieces of meat all throughout, which is traditional to Tuscan cuisine.
What are a couple of standouts from the menu?
The most popular gnocchi we have is called Gnocchi Italia, which consists of three sauces that match the colors of the Italian flag—pesto, gorgonzola cream and marinara, all served on top of handmade gnocchi that are like little clouds of heaven. They are perfect; they just melt in your mouth. And our lasagna is very popular, too. We sell out almost every night, and it takes three days to make. The noodles are homemade and very thin, and it comes with Bolognese sauce and fresh-made bechamel sauce and is finished with parmesan cheese. I call it “the brick of love.” Customers just go wild for it, and although large, the ingredients make the flavors very light and appealing.
What are the best things on the dessert menu?
Our tiramisu is homemade, very traditional and really fluffy. My favorite part is when the lady fingers are soaked between the brandy and espresso. When guests eat it, you can really see the joy in their eyes, and that’s my favorite part, too. Also, our panna cotta is creamy and decadent, made with organic vanilla bean and finished with raspberry and mango sauces.
115 San Jose Ave., Capitola. 831-465-9040, carusos-capitola.com.