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Peppino's Restaurant

Peppino's plateUpdate: Peppino's is closed.

In a word: One less old school restaurant.

The specs: #0479 
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, Peppino's Restaurant on Urbanspoon, 10best, BooRah, EatDrinkMadison, Our Next Thing, QSC; memories at Liquid Bliss, J. LaMore, 77 Square; official web site.

LimoJM ate the veal marsala with a salad and lemonade.
Nichole ate the raviolini al mascarpone with soup and a limoncello.
We split a slice of chocolate cake.
The bill was $69, or $34.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Peppino's an A-; Nichole gave Peppino's a B (see our grading rubric).

Latest Peppino's news and reviews

Peppino's has deep roots in Madison and a celebrated history* but our visit came after the announcement of Mr. Gargano's retirement. We were a bit too late to form an attachment, but many people we talked to have a special place in their hearts for Peppino's classic, classy approach.

We were seated by a window (where the fading light is evident in our photos). JM got his usual lemonade, which was fresh-squeezed but alarmingly warm, as in almost hot. Nichole matched him with a limoncello best described as treacly yet a good wake-up call for dinner.

A first course of chicken vegetable soup with fresh parsley and immaculately diced vegetables spoke equally to the chef's good taste and good knife skills. JM's salad of spinach, romaine, tomatoes, peppers, and onions was bright and freshly dressed with herb-infused oil and vinegar; it was crunchy and satisfying.

Chicken vegetable soupSalad

The menu had a very old-school feeling, with plenty of veal and seafood and nary a farmer's name in sight. This emphasis on luxury was only reinforced by the orchid garnish; once de rigeur, perhaps, these days it's downright jarring to see an orange slice juxtaposed with asparagus when most Madtown menus in this bracket are so likely to flaunt local-and-seasonal pairings. Which is not to say it's not pretty or romantic, it's just a bit anachronistic.

Nichole was served several big raviolini, delicious but a wee bit too soft and pillowy, with mascarpone that lacked oomph. She appreciated the abundance of spinach and stewed tomatoes, and finely sliced fresh garlic that lent body but not bite.

We're not wont to splurge on veal, but since it seemed like a house specialty and a special occasion, JM went for it and had no regrets. It was perfectly tender, with a delicious mushroom sauce that provided a woody counterpoint to the succulent meat. There was some delta between JM's vegetable (the aforementioned asparagus) and what he would have liked, but he was very happy with how the thing came together.

Veal marsalaRavioliniChocolate delight cake

Peppino's is definitely worth celebrating once more if it's already in your heart (though a sad, dry chocolate cake tends to make us shy away from recommending it as a dessert/drinks place, lipsmacking limoncello notwithstanding). We're also looking forward to what the new guard will bring.

*a history recently summed up by Doug Moe for Madison.com but since their links frequently break, you'll have to Google it.


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Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

Madison Food coverInfo about our book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is here, or read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook.



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