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Q • I have had the pleasure, twice in my life, to enjoy chef’s Chilean sea bass with capers at Cafe Napoli. If I could, I would enjoy it every day. I am hopeful that he will be willing to share the secret to this tasty treasure he has bestowed on our city. — Elizabeth Genthe, St. Louis

A There is a special pleasure in cooking a dish for friends and family that’s got a huge “wow” factor. This Chilean sea bass recipe from Executive Chef Chip Bates at Cafe Napoli fits the bill nicely, plus it’s easy to make and hard to mess up. His deft, light touch includes using an uncooked lemon-caper sauce to top the sea bass.

He plates the fish on a brilliantly green bed of fresh-cooked spinach. The earthy flavor of the greens, subtly nuanced with garlic, accents the buttery, rich taste of the fish and balances the bright notes of sauce.

 The method Bates uses for cooking the meaty fish begins with a quick pan sear of the flour-dredged fish and finishes in a very hot oven. For those who are new to cooking fish, this recipe, simple and straightforward, delivers great results. “You can substitute any of the cods — Icelandic, Skrei in the spring or black cod. Tilapia and halibut also work,” Bates says. We tested twice, once with tilapia, and the sear/oven finish method worked well on both.

The downside to cooking this tasty fish at home is missing the delicious Italian foods, gracious hospitality and warm ambience at Cafe Napoli, a landmark family-owned restaurant in the heart of Clayton that will celebrate 30 years of fine service in 2019. “We’re a local eatery known for our steaks, seafood and for our tomatoes in our sauces, salads and soups,” Bates says.

Good as the classics are, Cafe Napoli innovates, too, with new concepts like a potsticker/pasta mash-up. “This winter, we’re partnering with Crispy Edge to offer squid ink potstickers, stuffed with calamari and ricotta, breaded and served with a spicy diavolo sauce.

“We’ll also be serving our eggnog the end of December, which is made starting with a cooked custard, which appeals to people who don’t want to eat raw eggs,” he says. Pencil in a holiday lunch, dinner or drinks visit over the holidays.

Cafe Napoli

7754 Forsyth Boulevard, Clayton


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