Sherman's Food Adventures: Pepino's Spaghetti House

Pepino's Spaghetti House

I'll be blunt here - I wasn't the biggest fan of Nick's Spaghetti House.  Sure, I realized that it was ol' skool Italian-American, so no one could expect stuff found at Ask for Luigi or Savio Volpe.  However, for me at least, it wasn't prepared particularly well nor did I find it a very good value.  To many of the loyal clientele, I was completely wrong and should be struck by lightning for saying such blasphemous things. Well, it is a moot point now as Nick's has been replaced by a snazzier spot in Pepino's Spaghetti House.  However, they pay homage to Nick's keeping that particular style of Italian food alive with their simple, yet focused menu.

Jacqueline and I hit the place up on a busy Friday night to see if their version of Italian-American food was any better (although she had already tried the place out on her own).  Normally, complimentary Bread is not particularly exciting, but I had to include this in the blog post due to the side of butter.  Okay, the bread was soft and fluffy, but the creamy butter ensured we got a second helping.  It was appealingly salty and we ended up slathering it liberally.  We did end up with an appie being the Calamari with garlic sauce.  Although this didn't look particularly sexy, the thick strips of squid were super tender while retaining a chew.  Lightly crispy, the thin layer of batter was nicely seasoned and none too greasy.  What brought everything together (other than the lemon) was the creamy and extremely garlicky dip.

Naturally, the one dish we just had to order was the Spaghettoni, Meat Balls & Gravy.  They really should rename it meatballs with a bit of spaghetti because that would be a more fitting description.  Look at it!  Those baseball-sized meatballs were meaty while not dense.  They were mildly seasoned where the heavy lifting was left up to the tangy and just-salty-enough sauce (or gravy as the menu puts it).  The pasta itself was perfectly al dente while also properly seasoned.  My only wish was for more spaghetti to go with the ridiculous amount of meat.  On that note, the House Lasagna was equally robust with more than enough tender meat stuffed between each layer of pasta.  This was finished off with tart tomato sauce and plenty of melted mozzarella cheese on top.  Again, this was a very generous serving that we couldn't finish.

The best dish of the meal by far was the Chicken Piccata.  It really wasn't complex, but the execution was flawless.  Juicy and succulent, the deboned chicken leg featured rendered skin that was also very well-seasoned.  On that note, every bite of chicken was a literal smack in the face of tangy lemon and capers with a delicious saltiness.  Underneath, the crispy potatoes were exactly as advertised taking equal billing as the chicken.  So this was only a small taste of Pepino's and it was impressive enough that I would totally go back.  That wasn't even in my mindset before dining there.  Consider my mind changed.

The Good:
- Careful execution
- Food is just plain tasty
- That butter

The Bad:
- Although portion sizes are definitely fair, the prices are on the higher side
- Room is retro and snazzy, but very tight

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