By Judi Curry / OB Rag
It’s been many years since I ate at “Pepe’s.” I do not even think that I was doing restaurant reviews at that time, and I have been doing reviews for almost 8 years. When Irene called and suggested that we get together for lunch I knew just where to go. And I am certainly glad that we went there.
We were early; just a little bit past 11:00am, and there was one other diner in the restaurant. We were greeted by “Ed/Pepe” with a smile and exuberance that had us feeling good before we ever sat down. He quickly explained the “special lunch menu” to us; told us we could sit where we wanted to sit, and he would make us some garlic bread. Irene asked if it was possible to have just plain bread without the garlic and he said it was not a problem. True to his word, when he came back with the bread one half of the basket had garlic bread; the other was plain.
On the menu are “Appetizing Starters” and soups. On the windows are signs promoting “Darla’s clam chowder.” The prices range from $4.50-6. There are nine different salads listed, starting at $4.95 and going to $12.95 for their Seafood Salad.
All of their sandwiches (5) are $7.25, and all of the Calzones (5) are $7.95. There are many six pasta noodles listed, and 10 different sauces that the diner can select to complete the pasta order. The prices range from $7.95-$9.95. And as if that isn’t enough, there are 13 “Specialty Pasta Dishes” listed also. Almost all of those dishes are $11.95 with two exceptions – the Shrimp Arribiatta and Shrimp Rossini, which are $12.95. For those of you that like pizza, there 12 kinds listed, and there is a 8” small one for $6.95; a 12” one for $11.95 and a two pizzas –Large with 3 toppings listed for $17.95. Additional toppings are available for $1.50 each.
It should be noted that if you call ahead vegan pasta will be made available.
The one thing that I have not mentioned is the “Lunch Special”. What a bargain that is! For $5.95 you can order any pasta (Spaghetti, Fussilli, Capellina, Rigatoni, Linguini or Fettuccini); any sauce – Butter or Olive Oil; Marinara; Bolognese; Carbonara; Crema Rosa; Alfredo; Pesto; Mushroom; Clam; or Athena. (The special does not include any of the Specialty Pasta Dishes, but with all of the above offerings we did not feel slighted in the least.) The order comes with garlic bread and both Irene and I elected to each have a house salad for $1.25 extra.
The crisp salad was comprised of fresh greens, tomato, cucumber and a homemade Mediterranean dressing. It was cold, tasty, and a lot of it.
Irene ordered spaghetti with a Bolognese sauce made with meat and Italian sausage. (It should be noted that the same item on the dinner menu is $9.95!) It was served piping hot and very, very good. There was extra parmesan cheese on the table if she wanted to add some to her meal.
I ordered the Carbonara, because the waitress said that she liked it better than the mushroom sauce, which was my second choice. Like Irene’s meal, it was served piping hot and very, very tasty. It was made with garlic, ham, fresh cream and parmesan cheese. I think I could have done without the diced ham, but I would certainly order it again. Like Irene’s meal, it was $9.95 on the dinner menu. The lunch specials are Tuesday-Saturday. They are closed on Monday.
There is also a drink menu, featuring different wines and beer.
There are several interesting aspects about “Pepe’s” besides the food. The walls are filled with original art work – mostly done by Darla or Darlene. Darla has her own art studio in Ocean Beach – “Darladavinci’s Art Studio.” All of the art pieces are for sale. The tables, while covered with glass, all have corks as the base. Very effective and attractive.
While I was eating there many people came in for take-out; there seemed to be a regular crowd and Ed (the owner) greeted many people by name. He asked about children; he asked about travels, etc. He made sure to get the names of the patrons and called them by name through their stay there. A nice, homey touch!
Our total bill was $18.21 without the tip. Would we go again? Without question. And just not for lunch – I want to try their home-made Sangria!
Pepe’s Italian Restaurant
1830 Sunset Cliffs Blvd.
San Diego, CA 92107