Richard Capizzi creates deliciousness at Lincoln Ristorante every night, producing authentic Italian desserts using the very best ingredients. Cappizzi has worked under icons such as Thomas Keller, Jacques Torres and Jean Louis Palladin, making him a force to be reckoned with in the restaurant world. New Yorkers may know how to navigate the Lincoln Ristorante menu, but do they know everything about the desserts? That’s why we sat down to see just what this pastry chef recommends…
If you’re going to eat dessert in New York besides at your own restaurant, where do you go? What do you eat?
I really like what Dominique Ansel is doing down in SoHo. I was very impressed and became quickly addicted to his croissants, both the regular and the chocolate. He is doing something that I admire: lamination products. It’s a dying trait and I am happy to see it being done at such a high level – and so convenient for me. When I’m there I’ll get breakfast items or the croissants.
How important is the visual appearance of a dessert?
The visual appearance of a dessert is fifty percent in importance for me. For me, coming from a background in showpieces and artwork, I want to create a visual item that people want to see – something that is beautiful. I also think it is important to work with color, focusing on those that match the seasons, which can become a challenge in certain parts of the fall and winter. Dishes most closely based on color are my sorbetti and gelati. I aim to vary and create an appealing trio of each.
What is your favorite aperitif-dessert pairing at Lincoln?
For me, my drink of choice for dessert is Amaro. I love bitters, and often use the profile in my desserts. Coming from an Italian family, I grew up where bottles of Amaro were placed on the table with dessert. It’s part of my culture.
Are there any dessert crazes that you consider to be overrated?
I would say one overrated dessert craze for me would be self-serve yogurt. It’s a cool concept but the product itself is overrated. Essentially, it’s just powdered mixes with skim milk or water. It’s an extremely interactive dessert offering and people are enjoying that process.
What’s the most exotic thing you’ve ever seen used in a dessert?
The most exotic thing I ever saw was when I was in Thailand with Chef [Jonathan] Benno and Chef [Thomas] Keller. We were walking through the street markets and many of the vendors were selling chocolate dipped roaches and chocolate dipped beetles. I had never seen that before. They were so perfectly on display, like delicate petit fours.
What are the benefits of establishing a YouTube presence?
I think it is goes beyond just YouTube. All of social media allows us to branch out and connect with our guests in a unique way. We’re able to share photos and anecdotes not only of and about our menus, but about some personal favorites and items. With YouTube, a chef is able to be in the kitchen with you. I understand that recipes can seem overwhelming, but with YouTube, you get to see how I do it and can better replicate it.
What’s different about your desserts?
I try to be traditional with a modern approach. I am very lucky; both sides of my family are Italian, one Sicilian and the other Neapolitan. I grew up around classic desserts and pastries – all the recognizable Italian flavors – so it’s my intrinsic knowledge of sweets. Now, I have the ability to create, play, and adapt them in a more progressive manner. I have the best resource in my Grandma. If I ever want specific details, flavor combinations or techniques, I can call her directly. She’s always there to share, and it’s invaluable.