Contributed by Morwenna Lawson
We wanted a relaxing post-work dinner a deux and found PepeNero tucked down a pretty five-foot way on Stanley Street. The restaurant has recently undergone a revamp by Executive Chef and Owner, Gabriele Piegaia, and the new black and white photos and cool jazz background tunes have given it a bluesy vibe that’s more like London’s Soho than the CBD: perfect for a chilled evening meal.
My dining partner persuaded me to try the tasting menu, wanting to sample as many things as he could, and Herbs Marinated Salmon with Lemon Dressing was the first plate to arrive, pleasantly fresh and tangy. We decided to be nice about who got the last bit (me), but I then had to be super-fair about giving back the bigger portion of the next dish, a taste-packed Baked Pork Meat Ball dish in a tomato and mozzarella sauce.
Choosing the Degustation menu was a good way of getting me to try foods I’d never usually go for, like Black Squid Ink Spaghetti Pasta with Crab Meat Sauce. I’ve never been partial to chilli crab but this delicious fusion of al dente black pasta with a tangy crab mincemeat sauce might just change all that.
Let’s face it, everything on our menu was thoughtfully put together and full of flavour. A crunchy Lamb Rack ‘Milanese’ with Arugula & Cherry Tomato Salad was the last savoury dish, followed by Zabaglione Semifreddo Ice Cream & Amaretto Sauce to top it all off, and there were well-sourced wine pairings to match.
If you’re going a la carte PepeNero has a wide range to choose from plus a good selection of wines, as well as a BYO option on Mondays (corkage charge). Staff here were efficient and friendly; the city location makes it handy for lunch, and an intimate layout lends it a romantic feel at night. We couldn’t fit in anything else, and we’ll need to go back to try the rest of the menu – there’s lots left to sample and it all looked good.
Five-course Degustation Set Menu: $88pp, $128pp with wine
Daily set Lunch Menu: $33++pp
Wines by the glass from $12 to $16