★★★☆☆

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CAPRIOTTIS The new M Street location of Capriottis Sandwich Shop serves many types of sanwiches, salads and other lunch entrees, but the taste has yet to be matched by good service.
CAPRIOTTIS
The new M Street location of Capriottis Sandwich Shop serves many types of sanwiches, salads and other lunch entrees, but the taste has yet to be matched by good service.

Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop is about as Georgetown as an engineering degree or good football. In many ways, this new M Street eatery is the antithesis of the Georgetown culture that is nearly ubiquitous throughout Wisconsin Avenue and M Street. Its vacuous, shining interior is no Tombs or Wisey’s, and its dearth of community is by far the establishment’s greatest failure.

I will preface by saying: if your goal is simply to purchase a sandwich, this pseudo-Arby’s definitely does the trick. But if you’re looking for somewhere to sit down with friends, chat for a while and add to the canon of venerated Georgetown establishments, you’re going to have a bit of a problem at Capriotti’s.

Nothing is wrong with a quick eat. Many of the Georgetown joints we’ve come to love have defining characteristics and quirks that have enshrined them in our memories of college. They’ve become part of our community. Whether it’s Eat & Joy, Booey’s or even Harmony Cafe, these restaurants are part of our neighborhood, despite their lack of classic “Georgetown” tartan tapestry and preppy memorabilia. They feel local.

Think of the experience of eating at Good Stuff Eatery: Good Stuff has fun music, pleasant seating upstairs and a television. Its interior is inviting, even though it is part of a large chain. No such graciousness exists at Capriotti’s. The sterile interior looks like Subway mixed with an actual subway. The original red Georgetown brick of the structure’s foundation is faded into nebulous, dull black. No photos hang on the walls. The only televisions in the establishment play an endless feed of Capriotti’s own advertisements, as if some bizarre Orwellian advertising scheme had been adopted. But, it’s no surprise that this culture-neutral restaurant barely has the charm of a McDonald’s or Sizzler; the chain does span sixteen states ,stretching from California to Georgia. They may not have the time to try to personalize each restaurant to a specific location, and that is definitely understandable. The larger issue for me rests with the service.

I have never wanted to please the cashier of an establishment as much as I did “Steve” behind the counter. More like a little league’s demanding baseball coach than a restaurant manager, Steve made me feel as if there was a strict script and list of options that I should have memorized prior to arrival. The smallest cup size, as it was made evident to me, was a “medium.” If you tried to incorrectly pair their meal, you were met with a swift, curt “no.” And if you took too much time, you were gazed upon like the slowest gazelle in a wild pack rushing forward. However, on a positive note, I have never felt as accomplished as I did when I successfully completed my order from Steve.

The sandwich itself, promptly delivered to my companion and me, was actually very good. The capastrami ($7.25) fell squarely within the price range of subs that varied from $5 to $7 for a small, $8 to $11 for a medium and $12 to $16 for a large. The sub was decked in coleslaw and was heavy on sauce. It’s part of a rare breed of food that is as amazing sober as I imagine it would be drunk (and luckily, Capriotti’s is open until midnight on Saturdays). But, I definitely wouldn’t suggest that someone dine here if he was looking for healthy options. I don’t believe the word “salad” can legally be used to describe the vegetable-laden dishes that “Caps” serves. These “healthier” options sport names like black and bleu and chopped Italian, boasting salami, pepper ham, roast beef and even Capicola pork among a smattering of lettuce. So, if you are bringing a light eater with you to Capriotti’s, its “salads” may not be the most suitable. In fact, you may need to keep him at least ten to twelve feet away from the establishment, lest a deep breath of sizzling pastrami inadvertently clog his arteries.

But, despite the ribbing I have been giving Capriotti’s, the sandwiches are very good. In fact, I would go as far as to say that the reason (and perhaps the only reason) Capriotti’s has been so successful thus far is because they make a very mean and very filling sandwich. If you’re looking for a good experience or another Wisey’s to add to your college experience, Capriotti’s is not the place. However, if you’re just looking for a solid sub that will fill you up (for 1 to 4 meals), I think Steve behind the counter would be more than happy to help you out.

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One Comment

  1. 34th and Front Street says:

    Cmon now. Simple fact checking would be useful here. They have like 4/5 TV’s which are usually all playing different things. Including the football games two weekends ago. And secondly they are open until like 3AM on the weekends.

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