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the capri story

The port city of Fremantle has seen lots of changes since the 1950’s and the Capri Restaurant has been there. First as a boarding house and then as a restaurant serving genuine Italian food that is still on the menu today.

Corrado and Maria Pizzale, 1965

In the 1950’s and ‘60’s Fremantle was a bustling port with a thriving migrant enclave.  Dozens of Italian shops lined the streets, including Paino’s Fish Shop and Luisini’s Drapery. There was a network of boarding houses for the single men who had moved to this strange country to start a new life for their families.  One boarding house on Essex Lane had a restaurant that fronted onto South Terrace– the Capri.

In 1954 Oddone Pizzale and Osvaldo Tagliaferri bought into the restaurant and operated it together with their wives, Genuina and Giovanna. Oddone’s son, Corrado, and his wife Maria helped out whilst raising their family. With Oddone’s passing in 1966 Corrado and Maria took over as the new owners and the restaurant has been in the family’s hands to this day.

Guests often comment that one of the great things about the Capri is that it hasn’t changed. Of course this isn’t strictly true. In the early days Corrado would go to extraordinary lengths to guarantee the quality of the produce used. He would buy whole sides of veal from the Fremantle Markets butcher and break them up himself. There are stories of him carrying the sides slung over his shoulder down the street to the restaurant. Once a week crates of live chickens would be brought in on the hand barrow, he would swiftly behead the chickens and dunk them in the boiling copper and pluck them.  How many headless chickens have been chased down Essex Lane is anybody’s guess!

The clientele has also changed. In the 1950’s and ‘60’s it was made up mainly of working men. On overtime nights the wool workers would come in early with their meal allowance envelopes, sling their hooks over their chairs and have a hearty meal of steak and eggs before racing back to work.  The boarders from surrounding hostels would come in later for a more relaxed meal with more of a continental flavour.  Once a week there would be specials of giblets or stew, and fish was only served on Fridays.

The Pizzale family at the Capri in 1970

Things started to change in the 1970’s. The migrant workers had been reunited with their families and moved out to the suburbs. Now entire families frequented the Capri. More Australians started to travel and became more adventurous in their eating habits.  They sought out a more genuine Italian dining experience. Pasta dishes replaced the steak and eggs and seafood started to feature more prominently on the menu.   
The Capri continues to grow with the fourth generation now helping out.  Corrado and Maria are still in the background providing guidance and help as our ‘family’ of guests continues to grow with us.

Corrado and Maria in 2009

old nonno 1947
‘Old Nonno’ Oddone Pizzale, 1947