Catering to the stars
Prego Della Piazza became a hit among the city’s well-to-do, from politicians to Hollywood actors attending the Toronto International Film Festival. Hobnobbing with such notorious clientele provokes a flood of memories – from a respite with Paris Hilton in the staff room to the elation of Kris Kristofferson after repairing his damaged sunglasses. Though the exposure was great, the six-day week working double shifts was hard on Capra and his young family.
In 1997, the opportunity landed to team up with Paolo Paolini, who had just opened up a restaurant nearby and was looking for a chef and partner. Both with young families, the duo decided to include family time in their busy schedules, and a deal was made. Mistura Restaurant was born. An upper lounge, Sopra, was also part of the equation but now is used exclusively for large bookings and events.
A rustic-themed restaurant with an elegant, Italian cuisine, Mistura opened to rave reviews and is going strong after 16 years.
“You have to find what your comfort zone is,” Capra says. “If you feel that something will work, you have to believe it and you have to make sure that you do your homework, always. You can’t just dive into a business – especially a restaurant business – just because you have a good idea or you make good meatballs at home. At the end of the day, it is a business and you have to consider it a business.”
Of his food philosophy, Capra says he likes to keep things simple. “I like food for what it is. I don’t need the complication of extra garnishes or sauces or things that don’t provide anything but a distraction to the main dish. My flavour profile (at Mistura) is pure Italian.”
Capra’s most recent ventures consist of two locations at Toronto’s international airport: Boccone Trattoria Veloce, a 2,287-square-foot, full-service restaurant; and Boccone Pronto, the restaurant’s quick-service cousin in another area of the airport.
Energy to spare
Asked what ignites his initiative-fuelled energy, Capra jokes, “I don’t know. I guess I’m heavily ADD. HD-ADD! I’m really high-definition with this disorder. I love getting up in the morning and doing things. I guess it’s like a drug. This industry is really exciting.”
Capra notes that public speaking has been a challenge, despite the fact that appearances are more often becoming the norm. His iconic visage makes him easy to spot in public, though the inner 15-year-old still often feels those nervous bristles.
“The moustache is from 1996. It’s a distraction; most people love it. When I retire, I’m going to shave it off and grow my hair back,” he says with a conspiratorial chuckle. “Nobody will know who I am!”
About the author
Steven Chester is the editor and social media community manager for Restaurant Central. His 13-year journalism background includes writing and editing for digital and traditional media. He is an expert in social media, online content and email newsletter development. Follow him on Twitter at @restaurantCRFN.