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“Yum, yum, YUM!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Pepenero Cucina Mediterranea

Pepenero Cucina Mediterranea
800 Cottageview Drive, Suite 30, Traverse City, MI 49684
231-929-1960
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Ranked #62 of 255 Restaurants in Traverse City
Cuisines: Italian, Mediterranean
Dining options: Reservations
Restaurant details
Dining options: Reservations
Thompsonville, Michigan
Top Contributor
137 reviews 137 reviews
85 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 42 cities Reviews in 42 cities
80 helpful votes 80 helpful votes
“Yum, yum, YUM!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 15, 2014

I stumbled upon Pepenero Cucina Mediterranea when out on a girls night while browsing through the Mercato in Building 50. I was familiar with Stella’s and Tastes of Black Star Farms, but had no idea this place existed. Boy, do I hope to get the word out and that this place sticks around!

The amazing smells emanating from the kitchen made us rethink our dining plans; we were going to head downtown to dine. Once we perused the menu posted outside and confirmed a walk-up was available, we chose to dine at this tiny establishment. There were two other parties dining on this Friday night around 6 PM. They had room for a handful more, but it is a tiny establishment so reservations would be the safer way to go.

The server was extraordinarily helpful and willing to explain the menu and the origin of the various dishes. She provided a brief history on the restaurant. She suggested different ways to dine depending on our hunger level and ways to split things. We opted to forgo the appetizers and split a salad while each ordering our own entrees. The salad was easily sharable; they plated it separately, and they even split the charge on the bill for us. While it came with what they termed Italian dressing, it was the lightest most delicate dressing imaginable. I did pepper my salad just a bit after the first few bites.

They offered 6-8 entrees and 4-5 pasta courses from which to choose. There were a couple of specials for the evening and one menu item was not being offered due to not being able to find the quality of seafood the chef desired. I opted for the Chicken Marsala. I would have chosen the Veal Picata, but my dining partner didn’t particularly like veal or lemon and we hoped to try each others choices. She ordered the mushroom ravioli. Both were artfully presented and of the perfect portion size. My chicken was fork tender and well seasoned above the marsala flavor. The ravioli was rich and decadent.

I wanted to try their house tiramisu and was not disappointed. The lady fingers where spongy and thoroughly soaked in espresso. The light cream complemented the bold coffee. It was a delight like no other. I can’t wait to try their canoli at another visit.

I cannot wait to visit again now that I know this hidden gem exists. Traverse City has a few nice Italian options, but this one has moved to the top of my list.

  • Visited December 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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36 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    23
    6
    1
    3
    3
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Beulah, MI
Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
32 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“A taste of Italy”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 20, 2013

A small dining area within the restaurant confines and cozy seating in a corner of the mercato common area welcome you to this new restaurant. We joined 2 couples we attended high school (Cass Tech 1968). Giorgio, the owner/chef and his wife, Monica, made sure that we had an enjoyable time and a fantastic meal. We had the cheese ravioli with 4 mushroom tomato sauce (special), Bracioline di Vitello Ripiene (veal), which was eye appealingly plated, and Scallopine di Polla Al Limone. We started with a salad, the long thin bread sticks were served in tall clear vases to each couple and warm bread was served. We were all full, but a cannoli and tiramisu were ordered and savored to bring the meal to a fine close. The meals were all tastefully presented and Giorgio came over to make sure we were all sufficiently sated.

  • Visited December 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Traverse City, Michigan
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Italy in TC!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed December 18, 2013

Ate here last night. An excellent dining experience in every way: amazing food, cozy, fun ambiance, gorgeous setting, and above all wonderful, warm, welcoming service from the staff. Among the Italian places in the vicinity, this one is special. Really.
Highly recommended!!

  • Visited December 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Senior Contributor
22 reviews 22 reviews
22 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 9 cities Reviews in 9 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Distressing and distasteful.”
1 of 5 stars Reviewed December 7, 2013

It's undeniable the aromas wafting out into the hallway from inside this quaint little eatery are irresistible and served to draw my husband and I in for a late lunch and a first visit . Unfortunately the poor service and sub-par food will keep us from ever returning again. Although we were the only table seated, our waitress appeared putout that she had to spend any time waiting on us. We received no greeting nor any explanation about the menu. When I asked to have my salad dressing on the side, she abruptly stated it was a light dressing and that wouldn't be necessary. I told her I still wanted it on the side. She rolled her eyes and curtly stated OK. I also ordered the lentil soup. My salad arrived drenched in dressing and plopped down with another curt statement "here's your salad" from our waitress as she hurried over to the new table seated next to us. Then as she saw my disappointment shouted over that she had told the chef not to put dressing on it (why didn't she check to make sure the order was correct before bringing it to me?). I sent it back and said I'd just go with the soup. My soup arrived lukewarm with a consistency that was unpalatable (undercooked lentils with grainy consistency ). I took two spoonfuls and had enough. My husband found his meal just as inedible. This time our waitress noticed our uneaten meals and asked us if we liked our food. We politely told her no. She disappeared and returned telling us there would be no charge. While this was nice gesture ( we were fully prepared to pay-- it was our poor choice to select to eat here-- there are so many wonderful places in TC), we were left with a sour taste and won't be back.

Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Traverse City
Senior Reviewer
9 reviews 9 reviews
9 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
6 helpful votes 6 helpful votes
“Great italian food”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed November 30, 2013

Went one time recently with 6 people. Very nice people and wonderful food.
Can't wait to go back. Pastas dishs better than in Italy.

  • Visited October 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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