Capriccio at Café Cret

By Phyllis Stein-Novack
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 10 | Posted Sep. 6, 2012

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Located at 16th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway, Cafe Cret houses one of two Capriccio locations.

Photo by Greg Bezanis

A number of years ago, some Philadelphians mused about adding shops and cafés to the beauty that is the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. I loved the idea that I could order a café au lait, sit outside and watch the people go by — just like I do in Paris.

Alas, this never happened. There are a few restaurants on or near the parkway such as Asia on the Parkway, Mace’s Crossing, T.G.I. Friday’s and Con Murphy’s. A little while ago while on my way home from shopping at the Reading Terminal Market, I noticed a group of pretty red umbrellas poking up from an open space on North 16th Street. 

Last week, on a somewhat cooler sunny afternoon, Sandy and I walked up the parkway and decided to lunch at Capriccio at Café Cret.

The place has seating indoors as well as outside. It is cafeteria-style and opens very early in the morning so nearby office workers can grab a cup of La Colombe coffee or Mighty Leaf tea.

Sandy and I found a table inside and settled in. We sampled a number of items. None were very good. A bowl of chilled tomato soup ($4.75) had an off-putting taste. The woman at the counter obliged and gave me a bowl of gazpacho since the offending soup was the last bowl of the day. It was thin, watery and tasted like someone dumped an entire bottle of Tabasco in it. I could not detect any other flavor at all. One taste was enough for me.

Sandy’s grilled cheese sandwich ($5.25) consisted of two slices of whole grain bread, which she did not like at all, layered with a few slices of American cheese and placed on a panini press to warm it up a bit. The bread was dry and grilled without the benefit of butter. Now, I am a grilled cheese aficionado. I was brought up on them. A grilled cheese sandwich is a triumph of taste and texture. The bread has to be sufficiently buttered to add flavor. Your fingers should be a little greasy, in a good way.

“This bread is awful,” Sandy said. “I just don’t like it. It is dry and tasteless.”

My roast beef sandwich ($7.25) was built on the same bread. It tasted like dry gravel. A slice or two of slightly overcooked beef was placed on a slice of bread which was spread with a dab of whole grain mustard. Next came a little provolone, which lacked flavor, a slice of tomato and spring mix.

Huh? Who puts spring mix on a sandwich? Is this café trying to be gourmet? Bagged mesclun has no place on a sandwich. It adds nothing. A sandwich requires a bit of crunch. Iceberg or a crisp romaine leaf is so much better.

Brewed iced tea, without sugar or artificial sweetener, was needed to cleanse my taste buds.

Since Capriccio at Café Cret opens for breakfast, I decided to sample three of its muffins ($2.25 each).

The banana nut muffin was as dry as the Sinai Peninsula. It lacked any true creamy banana flavor. The blueberry muffin fared better, but I wouldn’t walk a few blocks for one. Corn muffins are among my favorites. It was OK since I brought it home and heated it up a bit.

Capriccio at Café Cret could be so much better. It is overpriced and has a portion-size, corporate-control feel to it.

At least the café serves La Colombe Torrefaction and Mighty Leaf Tea Co. — two top-quality products.

Zero tips of the toque to Capriccio at Café Cret. SPR

Capriccio at Café Cret

110 N. 16th St.

Contact the South Philly Review at

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Comments 1 - 10 of 10
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1. Marty Medals said... on Sep 6, 2012 at 11:48AM

“They better start serving booze soon so the ladies can get a drink first and then give two tips of the toque!”

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2. Personman said... on Sep 6, 2012 at 12:11PM

“And why is this in the South Philly Review?”

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3. August said... on Sep 6, 2012 at 02:56PM

“Personman, it's in the South Philly Review because some of us go north of South Street for business, recreation, and cultural events. Sort of like the Travel section in the Inquirer. In fact some of the reviews here are written as a story, to be savored and pondered as we wend our way back home on the Broad Street southbound line. Personman, be positive. Go to Black N Brew at Passyunk & the fountain, review their coffee, and tell us what you think.”

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4. Edward said... on Sep 6, 2012 at 03:09PM

“Yeah, Marty. And the ladies had better invite us when they start serving booze. Let's see...we can mix vermouth with a drop of Mighty Leaf Tea. We'll call it the Marty Leaf. Har Har! Three tips of the toque.”

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5. Christina said... on Sep 6, 2012 at 09:19PM

“I've always wondered if you tell the restaurants who you are when you go in or do they not know at all.”

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6. Phyllis Stein-Novack said... on Sep 7, 2012 at 03:00PM

“I review restaurants incognito. If it is a busy place, a reservation is made in a made-up name or someone else's name. I agree with August, however South Philly restaurants are at the top of my review list.”

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7. RICH said... on Sep 8, 2012 at 02:47AM


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8. Anonymous said... on Sep 8, 2012 at 06:46PM

“Hey RICH!

Do you agree your ALL CAPS letters are too high and the appearance of your ALL CAPS message is terrible?”

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9. barryg said... on Sep 11, 2012 at 11:51AM

“Why would you even bother to review a place like this?”

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10. harryg said... on Sep 12, 2012 at 11:03AM

“barryg, why she bothers to review a place like this is covered quite well in the first three paragraphs. Slow down and read for comprehension!”


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