Anna Cappa was a teen when she dreamed of owning an Italian restaurant. She wrote it in her high school yearbook.
Cappa, 48, of Concord, will finally fulfill her wish Saturday when she and her husband, Joe, 54, open VJ Cappa's Italian Steakhouse overlooking Lake Norman. The restaurant is beside Vinnie's Sardine Grill & Raw Bar on Williamson Road.
VJ Cappa's will feature all-prime steaks, made-from-scratch sauces and such longtime recipes from Joe's family as Grandma Zangari's "Hunter-Style" Chicken. That entrée includes bone-in breast and thigh meat with tomatoes, onions, mushrooms, herbs, bell pepper and red wine, served with baby whole carrots and mashed Yukon Gold potatoes.
Special dishes also include Queenie's Manicotti, named in honor of Joe's mom. It's her recipe of homemade crèpes stuffed with ricotta cheese and fine herbs and baked in a tomato sauce.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
The Sid's Chicken Riggies, a Utica, N.Y., recipe, includes rigatoni pasta, herb-roasted chicken, cherry peppers, caramelized onions and black olives tossed in a tomato cream sauce.
Another specialty is the slow-roasted prime rib in 16-, 14- and 10-ounce cuts. The beef is rubbed with herbs and garlic before roasting.
"No canned sauces, no shortcuts," Joe Kappa said as he made meatballs and meat and marinara sauces last week in preparation for a staff training day. "We're going to take the time to do food right."
The Cappas are from Syracuse, N.Y., and both are food industry veterans.
Anna Cappa was catering manager at Johnson & Wales University in Charlotte and a catering manager at UNCCharlotte. Her husband worked in contract food service with Compass Group. They've been married for 28 years and have been in food service for at least 30 years, Anna Cappa said. They met when Anna was 15.
Their restaurant is a true family venture. Joe's brother Vincent is co-owner. Joe and Anna's son Vincent, 26, will manage the kitchen, and Joe will do the cooking.
The couple's daughter Dyana, a marketing student at Johnson & Wales, will work as a server. The couple also has a daughter Natalie, 9, who likes to hand out menus and greet people at the door.
The 104-seat restaurant will have linen tablecloths. It also has a full bar and a 50-seat outdoor patio.
637 Williamson Road, Suite 100; 704-360-4416; and on Facebook. The website, www.vjcappas.com, is under construction.
Kabuto donating to Japanese tsunami victims
HUNTERSVILLE Megan Tan, owner of Kabuto Japanese Steakhouse & Sushi Bar, will donate 10percent of her restaurant's sales receipts through June 30 to the Japanese tsunami victims via the American Red Cross.
The restaurant is open daily at 4:30 p.m.
16516 Northcross Drive; 704-655-0077; www.KabutoLakeNorman.com.
Two restaurants participating in Arts Crawl
DAVIDSON Flatiron Kitchen & Taphouse and the Brickhouse Tavern will be among 31 businesses participating in the free Arts Gallery Crawl from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday in Davidson.