Pepino’s Pizzeria and Ristorante Review, Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin.
I chose Pepino’s after having a conversation about Italian food. It would seem that I typically bypass Italian cuisine many times in favor of other types of ethnic food. Part of that reason is that much of what is passed off as Italian is mediocre at best. The same type of marinara or “red sauce” is served over noodles or baked into lasagna or ladled over ravioli. It is a travesty as Italy has an amazing diversity of food culture that includes the wonderful breads, noodle dishes, seafood, risotto, caprese, prosciutto, bolognese, carpaccio, etc… In other words Italian, cuisine represents more than pizza and pasta with marinara sauce. I want to experience that diversity when I go out to eat.
With this in mind I searched the local food scene looking for a good choice for a restaurant review and after much debate, I and my dining partner headed off to Pepino’s Pizzeria and Ristorante, located in Menominee Falls, Wisconsin.
We walked from the cold of winter to a warm inviting interior that is decorated for the holiday season. The staff greeted us right away and then our hostess walked us into the dining area to our seats. The dining area was also very festive and the reds and greens of the holiday played off of the massive fireplace standing in the middle of the dining area with a stone wall on the end. I’m a softy when it comes to warm, inviting décor and Pepinos was wonderfully appointed.
We ordered drinks, German weisse beer. I love German beer as I lived in Germany for 3 years but I personally know an Italian beer maker that would be disappointed with the choice. And no they didn’t have Birra Moretti.
We browsed the appetizers and menu and decided on a combination platter which included breaded mushrooms, eggplant, beer battered onion rings, and mozzarella cheese sticks, all served with a marinara sauce.
Our order consisted of the pasta pesto with Italian wedding soup, and my dining partner got the fettuccine Alfredo.
After finishing our order we sat back and tried some of the bread. The outside of the bread was a golden brown with an amazing crunch. The top had sesame seeds baked on. The crumb or texture of the crust was also wonderful and the interior bread was finely textured as well. The flavor? The bread was mostly tasteless like white bread. It’s amazing so much attention to detail was given to this bread and to not impart flavor, is an insult to the bread.
The soup and salad was brought out. The salad was a utilitarian salad with iceberg lettuce some veggies, croûtons, a single tomato, and a cup of Italian dressing.
The Italian wedding soup was delicious. The broth was amazingly full bodied with a heady aroma. Spinach, little meatballs, and orzo pasta brought balance to the broth party. The seasoning was excellent and I inquired and yes they make this soup in-house. This soup is definitely recommended.
Our appetizer was next. A plate with four different appetizers, lemon wedges on top and a cup of marinara in the center. The positive: I liked how the eggplant was cut and displayed. The breading on all of the items was tasteless. With a few squeezes of lemon the acid really was needed for the flavor. And the marinara was thin and didn’t add much to the flavor of the whole. My recommendation would be to pass on this and try something else on the appetizer menu.
Finally our entrée arrived. The pasta pesto looked inviting and the fettucini Alfredo was creamy so we dug in.
My first bite into the pasta pesto was encouraging. Aroma was inviting with flavors of the basil, pine nuts and veggies playing well together. After a few bites it was evident that this was salted a bit too heavy for me. I did enjoy this dish however as did my dining partner. I enjoyed this despite the over seasoning.
The fettucini was very creamy but didn’t have much flavor or salt at all. The Parmesan cheese that would typically give that salty kick to this dish was absent or minimal. We were forced to use the shaker of Parmesan on the table to help limp the noodles along. After making this adjustment the flavor was on par with some other fettucini pastas that we have encountered. Some fresh shaved Parmesan on the top of this would have gone a long way to flavoring the fettucini Alfredo. As Alfredo on top of noodles is mostly white some more garnish would have been nice as well. I’m nit picking here but a sprinkle of paprika and a tiny sprig of parsley were overwhelmed in the sea of white. Don’t be afraid to add some color please.
The dining room filled up quickly so this is a popular place so depending on the night you may want to make reservations.
All in all my reaction to Pepino’s is mixed. I loved the warm, decorated ambiance, and the dining noise was never too loud for me. The food was variable. While it is evident that they take great pride in their food, some of the seasonings, flavors, and textures can be arranged differently to improve the dining experience. Pepino’s is middle of the road when it comes to Italian food. Nothing that we ate was horrible, but there wasn’t a standout either. (soup being the exception) The menu is limited to mostly pasta and pizza, so if you’re looking for something else in the Italian cuisine panorama this isn’t your place.
Am I right on, off my rocker, as always comment below.
Where is this place?
- N84W15841 Appleton Avenue
- Menomonee Falls, WI 53051-3087
- (262) 251-6500