“It's all about the sauce,” says chef Tony Illiano, owner of Lansdowne Town Center's newest eatery, Il Cappero.
Originally from Naples, Italy, Illiano moved to the U.S. in 1983. His grandmother taught him how to make the family's secret sauce recipe when he was 15, and it has been the basis for his cooking ever since.
“My grandmother taught me if you want good sauce you have to get up early in the morning to start cooking it. I wanted to create a good Italian restaurant using high-quality ingredients, and this is it,” he said.
Illiano has owned and operated numerous restaurants with his brothers, Mike and Frank, including New York J&P Pizza locations around Maryland. He decided last year to venture out on his own and create a new, separate concept.
The Italian eatery opened in late 2019 in the former Not Your Average Joe's space, across from Ford's Fish Shack.
The 5,600-square-foot restaurant has been revamped to have a rustic, Italian feel, with new flooring and paint, and the layout has been changed by closing in the kitchen area. In addition to the bar area, the restaurant has 31 tables, along with outdoor patio seating for warmer weather dining.
An extensive menu – with lunch and dinner portions – features appetizers ranging from bruschetta to calamari, salads, pizza and an assortment of pasta, steak, chicken and seafood dishes.
Dinner prices for entrees range from $14 to $29, and pizzas start at $12 for a margherita with fresh mozzarella and basil.
The family-friendly restaurant is currently hiring.
Illiano's son Branden helps manage the restaurant.
“I've always had a thing for restaurants, and I love to cook. I have a passion for this business,” Branden said.
The father and son agree one of their favorite moments at the restaurant is when people come in for celebrations. They bring out freshly-made “donuts” for dessert, and everyone gathers around to sing happy birthday in Italian.
“We hope people will come and enjoy our good Italian food and enjoy special times here,” Illiano said.
Il Cappero is open six days a week for lunch and dinner. They are closed on Tuesdays.