Atmosphere: A tiny, informal neighborhood spot with spirit.

Price range: From a grilled cheese sandwich at $1.85 to Italian veal dinners at $5.95 or the whopper pizza at $7.50.

Hours: Mondays through Fridays, 11:30 a.m. to 2 a.m.; Saturdays, 4 p.m. to 2 a.m.; closed Sundays.

Special facilites: Accessible by wheelchair. Booster chairs available for children. Parking in the lot out front.

Reservations: No, but if you're nearby you might lob a call to check out the crowd.

Credit cards: American Express, Carte Blanche, Dinners Club, Master Charge, Visa.

On this particular rainy week night we weren't trying to discover the perfect gourmet palace or the prize-winning culinary caterer to kiddies. Just a fast fuel-stop, if you please, some place that wouldn't be a wallet-stripper.

Mission accomplished - under the yellow sign of the Capricorn, a nook in the little Connecticut Avenue shopping center below the Channel 7 studios. Herewith our slightly pizza-stained report:

The four of us arrived exactly one table too late for this matchbox of a dinning room; by 8 p.m., all 12 or so tables were more or less occupied by what seemed to be a cross-section of neighborhood in the knowers all WJLA's prime-time television crew.

The first of two red-jacketed, hand-writing waiters assured us that something would free up in a moment and meanwhile, said he, why not a seat in the vast area up front - consisting of three postage-stamp-sized tables.

From there one can get the best (and only) view of the Capricorn's one de one decorative salute to children: a stuffed "Curious George" doll on a shelf over the bar.

Our 11-year-old son and I were rather more taken by the art work near the door. A half of a Regiskin helmet protruding from the Wall,and framed, too, would-you-believe.

Other masterpieces in the fancier room included five huge scenic photos, each box-mounted on red velvet backgrounds with black frames. (Red is obviously big here; even the ceiling is done in acoustical crimson).

But the eyes of our minor members were already fixed on the pizza column, where the charts start with a small plain at $2.60 and end with a large (19 inch) $7.50 "Capricorn Special" - which comes with sausage, salami, mushroom, green pepper, anchovies, ground beef, pepperoni, onions, cheese and for all we know maybe even the deed to the place.

What we do know now and didn't then was that one small-size model, at 10 inches in diameter, is probably ample for two children. Our son did manage to chomp his way through all but one slice of a small pepperoni pizza at $2.90, but we're still not sure when he'll be ready for his next meal.

His 9-year-old sister gamely battled a small sausage pizza, also $2.90, succumbing about 2 1/2 slices short of the finish line. Both children were gracious in defeat, however, commenting that these pizzas were extra-rich, not the skinny frozen kind.

From a list of "Italian Specialties," each served with salad and spaghetti, my wife requested the veal parmigiana, at $5.25, which arrived well blanketed in heaps of cheese.

Given all this meat and then the salad, however, that mound of spaghetti can be quite a challenge to those with limited appetites - their pasta point-of-no-return you might say.

it was veal for me as well - the veal Francaise at $5.95, which means four browned chunks of soft veal encircling a round slice of lemon, and all of it in a pool of butter sauce. Only the lemon peel survived.

There is spumoni for dessert at 85 cents, rice pudding (well, some people like it) for 75 cents or cheese cake at $1.25. As far as we were concerned, these were all the same - which is to say, things that must await another day.

By now our waiter was standing less than a foot from our table , entranced by the appearance of the Washington Bullets on the TV screen up high. We made a game of trying to catch his eye without talking to him.

Actually he regained consciousness in short order (right after the first two points) and in time for the settlement, which ccame to a digestible $21.71 plus tip. We didn't stay to see who won the basketball game, but we gave the Capricorn extra points for local flavor, informality and wholesome food.