What a Name
Crapitto is the name of the family who has owned this restaurant for about 15 years. They graciously put up with Jay Leno's comments on two occasions! I give a solid 3 bonus points for this family embracing their name!
Near Houston's Galleria
You know I appreciate an interesting exterior, so of course I would love this 75 year old farm house. But the fact that this is a block or so from the snarling traffic of the Houston Galleria, makes it an even greater oasis! 5 Bonus points!!
My Dining Partner
Okay, so Lorrie has been in the dining blog before. I guess I can't give any bonus points for introducing a new person to the blog. But, we were out in the morning, experimenting with Lorrie's new camera, so adding Italy to the blog was sort of an add-on to our day. 1 bonus for that!
This image of my minestrone is a bit lame, but as you can see it has a good helping of parmesan on top! Ever since I was 11 and experienced my first minestrone in Italy, I've been hoping to taste that amazing mixture of spices and veggies and cheese. I give 3 points for Crapitto's yummy minestrone, but I may have to go back to Italy (and maybe go back in time) to taste that memory again!
This is Armando, our waiter. His accent was not Italian, but he was a very nice and somewhat serious waiter. He came a little more to life when asked to pose for this photo. I hope he was kidding about the $5.00 payment...because I didn't pay him.
The person I didn't get to meet was Frank Crapitto. That would have made my day. ( Oddly enough he bought the restaurant from his son, John a few years ago.) We did get to enjoy looking at a wall of old Crapitto family photos, though. And we had a quick chat with Justin, the very busy, but accommodating manager.
I'm afraid we did not hear one Italian accent. That just makes me crave the old Italian restaurants back in St. Louis on "The Hill." 3 bonus for Armando and Justin. 1 negative point for not meeting an actual Crapitto!
Crapitto's gets a big 7 points for atmosphere, inside and out! The warm wood floors, white table cloths, small rooms, cozy bar and framed family photos, made the inside classy and comfy. The patio couldn't have been lovelier, with green umbrellas and shady Live Oaks! Even the fresh air felt oddly European!
I really need to come back and enjoy the night atmosphere for sure!
Crapitto's gets 21 points!!
East vs West
I thought it would be fun to compare the 2 seafood joints we visited in October. JB's Fish Camp in Florida and Duarte's Tavern in California. Let's see who wins.
Here's the Rock Shrimp at JB's Fish Camp near New Smyrna, FL. This spicy stuff was served on a limp paper plate with tiny cups of butter.
3 points for food at JB's
Here are the oysters served on an icy cold plate at Duarte's Tavern in Pescadaro, CA. They were okay, but my avocado stuffed with crab (not pictured) gives Daurate's a total of 5 points for food!
JB's in Florida was once an actual bait shop. Over the years the weathered wood and metal structure has expanded...in some odd ways.
3 points for a building that makes you feel like you're at summer camp!
Even though the exterior is not the most interesting...Duarte's gets 5 points for being the oldest building I've dined in for the dining blog! It was 117 years ago that Great-Grandfather Frank bought a barrel of whiskey and sold it for 10 cents a shot!
Rating the Tables
Our table on the porch at JB's was quiet, with a view of the inter-coastal waterway. Nice and breezy and peaceful.
3 points for having the porch area to ourselves... 2 weeks before BIKETOBERFEST in Daytona. Whew. Glad we missed that crowd.
Inside Table at Duarte's
Families waited over an hour for tables at Duarte's. What a treat getting our cozy corner with a view of old counter with swivel chairs. Kind of liked the fact our table (on Oct. 30th) had a cute little pumpkin. 3 points for that! (a real pumpkin...as well as my nephew, Silas!)
I love my people encounters...but it was a little creepy at JB's. The guy with the cut-offs wanted to pose for me. Gotta love his hands on hips and slight lean. Note the guys high-fiving at the bar.
2 points for JB's peeps
Costumed people always get extra points...even if it's the day before Halloween. I loved this kilted server at Duarte's, who offered to entertain my energetic nephew with some spoons!
5 points for colorful wait staff !
Looks like the West Coast wins! 18 points for California and 11 for Florida.
South Lake Tahoe
When you're surrounded by the pines of South Lake Tahoe, you sort of expect to find some kind of chalet-style American lodge.
What I didn't expect to find was a Swiss restaurant owned by the same Swiss family for 55 years! Yea! I can add Swiss to my list!
The Baumann family opened their restaurant in 1957. That means I am the same age as this restaurant. Judging by this photo...I am very old!
Ralph Baumann is not as old as this restaurant. His parents moved from Switzerland and started the Swiss Chalet before he was born. By the time he was 6, he was standing on a bucket and cracking eggs. He said the restaurant was his babysitter. His parents have passed, but he and his brother Peter are the owner/chefs now.
3 bonus points for a pretty interesting chat with someone who was born into the restaurant business. Ralph was honest enough to make it clear that he didn't have a whole lot of choice in his career path.
Tim, the bartender is fellow, serving up our pot of fondue. He came to South Lake Tahoe 30 years ago and never left. Bartending is Tim's retirement and although a little quiet, he calls all the local customers by name. 1 bonus for Tim!
I loved eating our fondu in the cozy lounge, filled with worn wooden furniture and Swiss knickknacks. And you have to love a little bar with a stone fireplace! 1 bonus for that!
The dining room looks like it hasn't changed since opening day? Those nice flat chair backs are pretty awesome! Some music with a little yodeling was getting the wait staff geared up for the dinner crowd!
I love it when places don't change! I've never been here before, but I'm pretty sure this is how the restaurant looked 55 years ago! 3 bonus points for authentic '50's Swiss look!
It was too early for dinner, but our afternoon hike left us hungry enough for a big pot of Swiss fondue! A blend of Emmenthal and Gruyere cheese with white wine, garlic and spices. A couple beers was needed to wash it down. I will give the Chalet 5 points for food, since this seemed pretty authentic to me.
One bonus point for the fact I didn't have to clean out the pan. I have some gruesome memories of cleaning cheese out of pans...back in the fondue making days!
The Dining Blog
This is a blog about Dining Adventures. Sometimes, I talk about food. Below, you can read how this started.
On July 4th 2011, I set a goal to try 50 culturally diverse restaurants in one year! (I knew that was possible, living in the Houston area) I spent the year pulling in friends and family to join me, on some unusual dining adventures. I met some curious people, tried some scary foods and explored places and cultures I never would have otherwise. Even though I met my goal, I learned too much to end my adventures in dining. I have continued blogging about memorable dining adventures of all kinds, near and far... and all the discoveries and funny things I've learned along the way!
Locations and types of dining adventures, are listed further down.