Some describe "The Capones" as "the Kardashians meets 'The Sopranos'," or "'Curb Your Enthusiasm' meets 'The Sopranos'."
"I think it's more like an Italian 'Seinfeld,' with a little bit of drama," said Dominic Capone, star of the new Reelz reality TV series based on the suburban family that runs Capone's Restaurant & Pizzeria in Lombard.
"The Capones" premieres with back-to-back episodes at 9 tonight, and heavily promotes the family's connection to legendary gangster Al Capone, whose nephew is Dominic's great-great-grandfather.
There's family drama inside and outside the restaurant, including Dominic's longtime girlfriend, Staci, arguing with his meddling mother, and a never-know-what-he's-going-to-say Uncle Louie.
"Their personalities are just off-the-charts insane," said Curtis Leopardo, the Barrington native who produced the show with his wife, Cara. "(Dominic's) a big character. There are a lot of them on the show."
Capone's Restaurant & Pizzeria operated in Bloomingdale for 15 years before moving to its current location on St. Charles Avenue, where it's been for the past five years. The restaurant and family have become local celebrities, and Dominic says he's regularly stopped and asked to pose for photos.
The show made headlines this summer, when the village of Inverness declined to let them film in front of an 11,000-square-foot mansion on Bradwell Road.
But cameras still followed the Capones all over the suburbs. While Capone said it was tough to have cameras tracking their every move, and he wonders how things will end up on screen -- such as when a friend, in his Cicero police uniform, dropped off a Rolex Capone bought in the alley behind the restaurant. But the cameras also captured funny, dramatic and real family moments.
"I want to entertain people. I want people to watch us and have a good time. Maybe they can look at their family and realize they don't got it so bad after all," said Capone, who grew up in Cicero and now lives in the Northwest suburbs. He didn't want to identify which suburb because he said he's received death threats related to his Capone lineage.
Capone's will be closed tonight, so the family can watch the premiere together.
Some critics dislike the show's Italian stereotypes, but Capone and Leopardo -- who are both Italian -- insist it's not offensive.
"Nobody's poking fun of Italians or anything. That's the way we are. There's nothing to be ashamed of. It's a coincidence that they're Italian," Leopardo said. "They're strong personalities, and they belong on TV."