So the original chef at Pepenero (Renato), of the lobster linguine with san marzano tomato sauce fame actually went back to Italy, and a new chef took over here. Which also means a menu revamp :( I really liked the previous menu! They had the best prosciutto wrapped scamorza and porcini I have ever had. The new offerings are not bad either, but the day we went they were out of their signature linguine all’astice and also the squid ink ravioli. Poor marks for that! Apparently there was a big lunch crowd that all ordered the seafood pastas. I really just came back here for that linguine :(
So I wound up having the pappardelle with deer meat, which truth be told, wasn’t all that bad, but it is no lobster linguine, as you know. The manager told us that the lobster sauce for their new lobster linguine is the chef’s secret recipe, and he adds bits of the tomalley to the sauce which boosts its flavour. The deer meat itself is tender and goes well with the parmesan and the relatively light sauce. Worth a try! The noodles are also very good.
LZ had the baked cod with tomato crust and potato spumante – a huge chunk of cod baked in a tomato crust. It was moist and exceedingly tender. I was surprised how well it went together! I guess having a crust around the filet packs the moisture and rendered fats in. The grilled vegetables were a perfect accompaniment.
For dessert we had the panna cotta infused with mint – they were out of the tiramisu. Hrm. The mint taste was really subtle (LZ said it made it taste like soy) but the panna cotta was pretty good.
Now the service needs to be worked on. They have a menu in Italian but none of the service staff speak it or know the Italian names of the various items on the menu. I ordered the linguine all’astice and had to repeat myself several times. I asked what the sauce of the the deer meat pappardelle was like (in English) and the staff just repeated blankly after me “what it’s like?” – I think she doesn’t even speak English. While I sympathize with the current manpower situation – it’s hard to find permanent waitstaff – you should at least hire someone who speaks English! When I finally got somebody who spoke English I asked if the deer meat sauce was like a bolognese and he said it was less wet than a bolognese, which is tomato based. I was like wtf?!, this guy has clearly never even been to Italy. Oh well. I think it’s kind of pricey for the quality, although of course their ingredients are well-sourced. The restaurant interior is kind of nice to sit and lounge around in though, they play some kind of new age-y music which is great for long dinner chats.