Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 3 a.m., Friday; noon to 3 a.m., Saturday; noon to 2 a.m., Sunday.
Price Range: Sandwiches, omelettes and specials from $2 to $3. Entrees are $3 to $6.
Atmosphere: A tattered and rather noisy neighborhood bar where the service is warm and helpful.
Special Facilites: Booster chairs; plenty of parking in front; no children's menu. No special arrangements for handicapped, but call ahead and management will be helpful.
Credit Cards: Visa, Master Charge, Diners Club and American Express.
Reservations: Not accepted, but turnover is fast and there is rarely more than a 10-minute wait.
At first glance, the Capricorn doesn't look like a place you would want to go to with the children.It's a neighborhood bar. True, the menu is posted in the window, but it is dwarfed by a large "happy hour" sign.
You walk past a row of barstools with frosted mirrors to one side and fake Tiffany lamps above to get to the brown formica tables and tattered red vinyl booths in back. Green plastic plants perch between photographs of Greek ruins hanging on dark paneled walls.
With glaring overhead lights and loud rock 'n' roll music, the atmosphere is a bit jarring. The waitress will obligingly turn down the music, however, which helps.
The menu is a motley mixture of Italian food, such as pizza, ravioli, lasagna and spaghetti; Eastern Shore-style crab cakes, which are a house specialty; and neighborhood diner blue plate specials, such as "homemade" chile con carne, $1.95 a bowl.
While we pondered this variety, families with children kept coming in and all the tables were filled by 6:30. We soon learned why: The Capricorn makes one of the best combination pizzas around.
Listed as the Capricorn Special, the pizza's thin, crisp crust is freshly made on the premises each day, coated with thick tomato sauce, well slathered with mozzarella and topped with generous portions of sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, pickled peppers, ground beef, anchovies and sliced fresh onions. The whole is sizzling hot, garlicky, thoroughly delicious and a meal in itself.
All of us admired our 9-year-old's foresight in ordering this dish. At $4.40, a small pizza could serve two children. A large Capricorn Special at $8.40 could feed a family.
Our pleasant jeans-clad waitress had suggested the crab cakes ("made fresh each day"). They were large, light and full of crab, but somewhat underdone, more like a warm crab salad with celery, green peppers and mayonnaise. Also, there was quite a bit of cartilage, which was unpleasant.
The platter, which cost $5.95, was served with french fries and salad. The potatoes were tired, hard and unsalted and the salad was ordinary, garnished with a tasteless mixture of glassy white slivered iceberg lettuce and canned beets.
We tried the eggplant parmigiana. The portion was small, overpriced at $4.50 and overcooked. The lasagna alla roma, at $3.95, was drowned in a burnt tomato sauce, with little evidence of the three cheeses and spiced meat mentioned on the menu. And the white pizza lacked the garlic and Mediterranean spices essential to the dish.
But the chili mac, a Capricorn specialty, is another story. A generous helping of spaghetti, topped with the house chili and a lot of melted mozzarella cheese, the chili mac is a simple, nutritious meal. At $2.65 it is a popular dish -- we watched a steady stream of Chili Macs make their way from the kitchen to tables.
Surprisingly, for a restaurant-bar that serves a lot of good pizza, beer was only available by the bottle, not on draft.
The service was cheerful with all requests for water, more napkins, extra plates, etc. attended to quickly. And rambunctious children could eat well with a large Capricorn Special pizza, a Chile Mac, beers for the adults and milk for the children, and two spumonis to be shared, for about $19, including tax and tip.