New Jersey. Gangsters. Red-checked table cloths. Italian-American grandmas slaving over stove tops all day Sunday. When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie….
Those are the images that will float through your head throughout your dinner at Peppone.
As one of the most enduring Italian restaurants in Los Angeles, and probably the most well-known in Brentwood, Peppone can be described as nothing other than old school. Instead of eating delicate food reminiscent of that little bistro you happened upon while visiting Roma, you are eating hearty, Italian-American food Tony Soprano himself would endorse.
I must admit, I am usually a fan of the former - read my post on Pizzicotto if you don’t believe me. However, there is something about Peppone that I loved - the restaurant hits the nail on the head, it owns its cuisine, it ain’t copying no one. The food is heavy, but it’s supposed to be, dammit! So grab a large glass of their house chianti (delicious, by the way), and pull up a chair. Just please, don’t expect a Mozza experience.
So, what should you expect? Wholesome cooking, large portions, and leaving with a full stomach. Oh yeah…and an empty wallet. Let’s not act like Peppone is any different from the Mozzas in that respect. One of the things they are known for is their high prices. And yet, the place is always full, so I guess they are doing something right.
Anyway, enough exposition…on to the food:
For appetizers, my husband ordered the Caesar salad, and I ordered the artichoke. The first thing we noticed is that food is finished at the table. Not only was the salad tossed on a cart next to us, but our entrees came out to us in the skillets in which they were cooked (more on this later). The Caesar had a nice, light dressing tossed with crisp romaine and croÃ»tons. The croÃ»tons actually tasted like dried bread cubes - no oil or seasoning, save maybe salt - and I loved them! I never would have thought to do that with croÃ»tons. The artichoke was a full, globe artichoke, served in its own cooking broth. The broth was stocky, lemony, and very garlicy, with large slices of garlic floating all around. It was not served with any butter or mayo for dipping, which took me by surprise at first. But, once I started dipping in the cooking broth, I was hooked. The choke was perfectly cooked and tender.
For dinner, my husband ordered the Italian sausages - and that’s exactly what he got. A plate of three spicy, juicy sausages covered in a tomato-onion sauce, with a side of steamed veggies and potatoes. Personally, this would not have been my idea of the perfect meal, but he loved it, and that’s all that matters. But, I must admit the sausages were bursting with juicy flavor, so if you like a large plate of sausages, this would be the perfect meal for you.
I am more of a pasta and vegetable girl, so I ordered the spinach and ricotta ravioli. Unlike the ravioli I have ordered at the above-mentioned “bistro-type” of restaurants, my plate didn’t include five well-spaced translucent pillows finished in a delicate butter sauce. Instead, I got Ravioli with a capital “R”. The pasta was thick, and as my fork pierced each piece, spinach and cheese exploded into the thick, smooth tomato sauce. In other words, it was GOOOOOD!
In summation, the world (or at least Brentwood) really is big enough for two kinds of Italian restaurants. The Pizzicottos of the world will always bring you back to your days when you studied abroad, dined al fresco, and thought you looked like one of the locals. The Peppones of the world serve up the type of home-cooked comfort you could only find on the set of The Godfather, as you imagine the garlic for the tomato sauce was most likely sliced with a razor blade. I am grateful both of these restaurants exist, and I am even more grateful they are both within walking distance of my apartment.
Peppone is located in the Brentwood Village at 11628 Barrington Ct, Los Angeles, CA 90049
Phone: (310) 476-7379