Photo by Ron Jasin

September 5, 2012

DiFabio’s offers fine, family-style Italian along Frankfort Avenue

“Casapela.” Utter this word slowly, with Mediterranean rhythm, assonant and mellifluous, “Cah-sa-PEH-laaaah,” and it sounds as Italian as Tony Bennett crooning “Arrivederci, Roma.” But plug it into Google Translate or ask a friendly Italian what “Casapela” means, exactly, and you come up with nothing. Zero, zip, even, well, niente.

But it means a lot to the DiFabio family, friendly hosts of DiFabio’s Casapela in Clifton (and its parent shop in Madisonville, Ky.): “Casapela” is a quick mash-up of the family’s first names, Caity and Sarah and their parents Peter and Laura, the friendly folks who make these Italian-American eateries work.

DiFabio’s joined the Frankfort Avenue restaurant row two years ago and has become a popular spot on the strip. I hadn’t been back for a while, so, hungry for hearty Italian-American family fare, Mary and our friend Lucinda and I claimed a comfortable table in a back corner and settled in for a casual evening and a filling meal.

The smallish venue ranks as one of Louisville’s most historic structures. The 200-year-old building started life as a tollhouse on the old Frankfort Pike. Its small, covered porch offers a pleasant al fresco option for people-watching, but we like the comfy dining rooms, which have just enough iconic Italian-restaurant decor (strings of lights, Chianti bottles in wicker fiaschi, stacked cans of olive oil) without going over the top to red-checked tablecloths or fake grapevines.

The bill of fare is rooted in the classic old Italian-American family style, and when you’re in the mood, that’s all you really need. But it goes beyond that to incorporate some steak and seafood options that fall into a more upscale “Continental” category. Accordingly, while it’s not bewilderingly long, it offers a good choice of styles and prices. You can choose your dinner’s centerpiece for as little as $9 (for a bowl of pasta — your choice of spaghetti, angel hair, fettuccine or linguini — sauced with marinara or pesto), or you can take it up to $27 (for any of three filet mignon options, topped with gorgonzola, black peppercorns or the Fabio special with a red wine and veal stock sauce, mushrooms and ravioli on top). Shrimp, salmon and fresh tuna entrees come in at market price.

You can put together a pasta dinner to your liking by choosing one from Column A (meat sauce, marinara, pesto or alfredo, or order a slab of lasagna or dish of manicotti), and top it with a pick from Column B (meatball, chicken, sausage, shrimp or veal), at a toll ranging from $9 to $17 depending on your choice. A colorful Italian salad is served family-style with entrees, and six antipasti (appetizers from $4 for garlic bread to $8 for escargot with pesto butter) will whet your palate or maybe kick up your thirst for something from Caity’s well-tended bar.

Youngsters may enjoy eight Italian-style picks from the Kid’s Menu from $3 to $6 for a child-size portion; those of drinking age may prefer to peruse the wine list, which features about 20 mostly Italian selections in the surprisingly affordable range of $26 to $45 for a bottle, $7 to $9 for a glass. We summoned a hearty red, Farnese 2010 Montepulciano d’Abruzzo ($30), and enjoyed it with all our courses.

A pair of appetizers proved ample for the three of us to share. Seven stuffed mushroom caps ($7) came warm in an oval oven dish. They were filled with spinach, garlic, Parmesan and Italian herbs, and cooked through while still retaining some firmness.

The “baked goat” ($7) was a small black iron skillet filled with dark, thick, long-simmered but not overly sweet marinara sauce topped with a pool of melted Capriole goat cheese, with an abundant pile of crispy flat bread triangles alongside. I knew I shouldn’t eat them all with more filling goodies coming, but they were too addictive to stop.

The salad was decent if not world-stopping, a good-size bowl of romaine, cherry tomatoes, black olives, carrots, chickpeas, onions, croutons and peperoncini with an Italian vinaigrette.

Manicotti ($12) were a fine rendition of the Italian standard: Two pasta sheets were rolled around a creamy, steamy ricotta filling, topped with marinara and mozzarella, and baked until the cheese was molten and browned.

An 8-ounce Gorgonzola filet ($27) was an inch thick, medium-rare as ordered with a cool pink center; it was covered with crumbled Gorgonzola and chopped toasted walnuts, surrounded by a rich, creamy Mornay. A small portion of pesto pasta came alongside, a $1 up-charge from the usual veg du jour, zucchini and summer squash.

Veal piccata ($18) was satisfying, too, a thin, tender scalloppine served atop a ration of angel hair pasta, sauced with a properly tart lemon-and-caper white wine sauce with plenty of sautéed sliced mushrooms.

I have no idea who ordered strawberry-lemon buttermilk cake ($6), as none of us had any room for dessert; but the sweets are all made in-house, and a wafer-thin spoonful tasted mighty good.

A filling dinner, with good wine, good laughs and good friends, came to $116.60, plus a $24.40 tip for flawless service.

DiFabio’s Casapela Italian Restaurant
2311 Frankfort Ave. • 891-0411
Rating: 86 

The Italian food that they

By don44
The Italian food that they offer here is so good. You are able to eat some amazing food here. I definitely recommend to all to eat here. There is nothing better. click here

The invoice of stand up is

By alone17
The invoice of stand up is based in the traditional old Italian-American members of the family design, and when you are in the mood. havedam nordsjælland

Notice that I said wine-geek

By reshhia
Notice that I said wine-geek encounter. Containers of wine enthusiasts might have been able to discover more expensive bottles around town, perhaps more “trophy” essay rush bottles well liked by the big-name experts a evaluate that draws more snobs than nerds. But only L&N put it all together, as I had written in a 2007 LEO Every week review.

deficiency of sources to

By alone17
deficiency of sources to feed them; or because etheir mother and father are either. is bubblegum casting legitimate