IN THE KITCHEN Bob Caparella says he’s “old school” and proud of it. The recipes that have been a mainstay at his La Scala Restaurant in Randolph since 1970 are the ones he learned growing up in Boston’s North End, where he started working at the family restaurant — Mother Anna’s Restaurant on Hanover Street, still there today — at age 14. He brought his grandmother Anna’s recipes to La Scala when he opened it, and to this day they are used for many of the four to six daily specials on the blackboard at the entrance to the restaurant.
“Some of these are older dishes you won’t find anywhere else,” said the grandson.
Caparella, a longtime Milton resident, expanded La Scala in 2005, adding a large bar area, new restrooms, a function room, and improved handicapped accessibility. The restaurant has a capacity of 125. He said he decided long ago not to accept credit cards — there is an ATM on the premises — to keep prices as low as possible. “The cards cost 3-5 percent right off the top, and when you consider the cost of administering them, it’s more like 8-10 percent,” he said. “If we were larger or a chain, it would be different.”
La Scala is a family affair: Caparella’s sons, Michael and Robert, are both involved, and his wife, Karen, runs the lunchtime business.
THE LOCALE The restaurant is located on a busy stretch of North Main Street, or Route 28, and parking can be dicey during busy periods. It’s easier on nights and weekends. La Scala’s main dining room is intimate and quiet, and the tablecloths and napkins are actual cloth, which my companion, Susan, appreciates. There is a large, lively bar area with a cozy fireplace, a piano bar on weekends, and high-backed chairs and tables for dining, part of a trend that has seen newer restaurants build large eat-in bars. “My son Michael made the suggestion to add those tables and chairs, and they’ve proved very popular,” Caparella said.
ON THE MENU La Scala’s menu offerings can be described as southern Italian, Neapolitan in nature, as the Caparella family hails from the Naples area. That means red sauces are prominent — La Scala makes a mean marinara. The restaurant is open for lunch Monday-Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and most lunch entrees are about $10, which includes a side of linguine, ziti, ravioli, or a salad. Try the fine house creamy Italian dressing. There is a full list of appetizers, antipasti, pastas, and soups.
Dinner entrees — served Monday-Friday from 4:30 to 11 p.m., Saturday from 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday from 1 to 10 p.m. — are in the $15-25 range, again with a side of linguine, ziti, ravioli, or salad included, and the bread is fresh and plentiful. On a recent visit for dinner, Susan and I shared an order of mussels marinara, a generous serving of the mollusk swimming in a sea of spicy sauce. We also had the pasta e fagioli soup, beans and fresh homemade pasta in a sturdy, creamy broth. I enjoyed my chicken parmigiana, considered by Caparella to be his restaurant’s signature dish, while Susan went for the veal margarita. On other occasions, my go-to dish has been the pollo Venezia, thinly sliced sauteed chicken with artichokes and mushrooms in a wine-and-butter sauce. The portions are generous, and almost everyone leaves with a bag of leftover dinner. The wines are moderately priced and include three house pours, and we ended our recent visit with a bang with homemade tiramisu, one of 11 desserts to indulge in. Caparella said that in recent years his restaurant’s takeout business has expanded to about 20 percent of the operation. “People just love our sauces,” he said.
La Scala Restaurant, 1070 North Main St., Randolph; 781-963-1700; www.lascalarestaurant.com.
Rich Fahey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.