A selection of delicacies at Capisce. “I’m trying to carry everything that’s not readily available in Bloomington,” says co-owner Bret Pafford. Photo by Rodney Margison


Quail eggs, dry-aged steaks, microgreens, hickory-smoked wild boar bratwurst—these are some of the delicacies carried at Capisce Catering & Market, an Italian delicatessen that opened in March at 217 W. 6th St. “I’m trying to carry everything that is not readily available in Bloomington,” says managing partner Bret Pafford.

Pafford values freshness, so the exotic and imported items share shelves with local and homemade ones. Spaghetti and fettuccine are made in-house. The eggs come from Indiana farms. Pafford’s wife, Su, makes the gelati.

Photo by Rodney Margison

Pick any item in the shop, and Pafford will speak with a gourmand’s enthusiasm about why he carries it. The European unsalted butter, for example: “Once you go to this butter, you will never go back to any other butter, because all the other butters are just full of water.” Or Nueske’s-brand bacon: “Their Canadian bacon takes eggs benedict to the next level.”

Pafford is particular about steaks, as well. He gets prime beef from cows raised on grass and then fed grain for their last month. He cuts the steaks thick, and then dry-ages them in-house.

There is a selection of old-world Italian wines, a refrigerator section of milk alternatives, and a wall of rare liquors behind the counter. “This would be a place to get a back bar that would be inspiring and impressive because it’s not something you can just get anywhere,” Pafford says.

This summer, Capisce [a way of asking “understood?” in Italian] plans to begin offering a takeout menu of pasta dishes, paninis, flatbreads, and salads. Pafford envisions Capisce as a showroom for the catering business. “We’ll do tastings surrounded by inspiration, and then you can possibly pick up something for dinner,” he says. “Before you commit to a case of wine, take a bottle home.”

Pafford, 42, grew up in Zionsville, Indiana, attended the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, and worked in high-end restaurants in New York, California, and Hawaii. Builder David Howard recruited him to open the Village Pub at 206 N. Walnut in 2019, and to create food businesses for the Alley Works building that Howard’s company constructed. Brilliant Coffee Company opened first, followed by Nourish Bar restaurant, and now Capisce.

“Because of his caliber of cooking,” Howard says, “Bret knows where to get the best product.”