The retro Italian charm might be slightly contrived, but the atmosphere of la dolce vita is wholly genuine at Capri Club, a picturesque new bar in Eagle Rock housed in what was once a neighborhood red-sauce joint named the Capri. Already packed nightly with casually well-dressed patrons sipping away on aperol spritzes, frozen negronis and all the manner of wine and cocktails, the indoor-outdoor watering hole is currently one of the most fun places to go out in Los Angeles—if your idea of fun happens to be spending a laid-back, sun-dappled afternoon or evening with a date or a few friends sipping on drinks, snacking on tasty, reasonably priced Italian bar bites and enjoying life to the fullest, as the sweet life demands.
Deep red booths, wood paneling and memorabilia from the original restaurant would have given the intimate space the look and feel of an old-school Jersey trattoria, save for one crucial addition: a large, open-air folding window underneath Capri Club's red awning. The folded back panes confer a level of breeziness upon the entire bar, even if you aren't sitting on its shaded patio or along the extended seating area on the sidewalk outside. With its emphasis on aperitivo-style dining and drinking, the small menu of bar bites and cocktails encourages sipping and sampling with $6 mixed shots of various Italian herbal liqueurs and drinking snacks like tuna-stuffed peppers and fried balls of pasta. Capri Club also has the best adults-only slushie in town: a blood orange frozen negroni. Though not every drink and small plate is consistently executed (skip the limp bruschetta), most are solid accompaniments that make it easy to blur lines between meeting up for a cocktail and a light meal.
Owned by L.A. wine veteran Robert Fleming—formerly of Los Feliz's Bar Covell—the bar also offers a rotating list of natural wines and beer, plus an ever-changing curated selection of limited stock liqueurs that would delight any aficionado of amaro (plural amari). Once thought to promote digestion, they’re usually taken at the end of the meal (digestivo) or in spritz form beforehand (aperitivo), particularly at "aperitivo hour," the earlier side of the evening in Italy. At Capri Club, of course, there are no hard and fast rules as to when and how to partake, though the bitterness of most amari you'll find there pair best with a side of their colder, sweeter offerings, whether that be the frozen negroni, grape sorbet or a mildly herbal gelato flavored with anise and hyssop, a type of mint native to the Mediterranean.
Operating on a walk-in basis, the bar can get somewhat chaotic at (and even before) peak drinking hours, and especially on weekends. Plenty of in-the-know and local-ish Angelenos have already embraced Capri Club with open arms since its mid-June opening—which means the bar itself can get quite hectic, with most seats filling up around sunset, when the views over the hills become particularly breathtaking and the blazing hot afternoon sun finally tapers off. Those in search of a quieter, less crowded experience or one of the bar’s choice red booths would do best to arrive early, when the sun still beats down on the sidewalk, or an hour or so before closing time on weekdays; though the kitchen typically finishes for the night by then, the ability to soak up the still-lively scene remains uncompromised, all without having to jockey for a seat.
You might not find the absolute best antipasti or even the best spritz in town at Capri Club, but you also won't find the near-cinematic ambience and Italian throwback vibes anywhere else. Unlike most L.A. watering holes, the bar sits at the nexus of casual, stylish and cool. Combined with the all-encompassing sense of la dolce vita, efficient and knowledgeable staff and generally relaxed clientele, a single visit will justify the likely need to wait for an open seat or table. Eagle Rock Boulevard might not be a charming side street in Naples, but at Capri Club, it comes damn well close.
The vibe: A charming, retro-cool aperitivo bar inside a former red-sauce joint that’s best for small groups, dates and even solo visits.
The food: Straightforward, slightly uneven bar bites by Rossoblu's Francesco Allegro, including luscious balls of fried pasta (frittatine, arancini and suppli) and a delicious anise hyssop gelato.
The drink: Italian spritzes, amari, a rotating selection of wine and beer, standard cocktails, no-ABV options and a refreshing blood orange frozen negroni.
Time Out tip: If you're new to amari, ask the bartender for a recommendation and best practices; straight-up bitters are definitely an acquired taste, and the herbaceous liqueurs—especially the $6 50/50's—pack a major punch in flavor profile and alcohol content.