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Local chef to open new Italian restaurant

The Forager

Italian chef Salvatore Pepe has just signed a deal with the Cohen Group which will see him back behind the stoves of his own restaurant.

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It’s 10 years this month since Pepe and his business partners closed the successful North Adelaide restaurant Cibo Ristorante Pasticceria, which spawned Adelaide’s café culture with its expansion into Cibo Espresso franchises.

Pepe’s new venture, Pepe Bar Cucina, will take up the space previously occupied by Burnside Village café H by Felici, which finished trading at the shopping centre at the end of December.

“The closing of H by Felici left an opportunity for Salvatore Pepe to come in with a new food and beverage destination that will offer a bar and restaurant with good-quality, simple Italian fare and no focaccias,” says Burnside Village centre manager Ric Walker. “Burnside Village owner and CEO Andrew Cohen got the conversation going.”

Pepe plans to install a specialised charcoal grill for the preparation of Tuscan-style dishes and snacks featuring local ingredients such as octopus, Gulf prawns and cuttlefish “cooked à la minute”.

“Cooking on charcoal is one of my passions,” he says. “It’s a skill I acquired back in Florence where I learned to cook.”

Pepe Bar Cucina will also serve classic Italian roast pork (porchetta) in winter, specialist Italian cakes, and some Cibo Ristorante favourites with a modern twist.

“It will be traditional Italian food but nothing like you see in Adelaide – I’m old enough to feel confident about cooking what I want.”

The only major change to the design of the premises, which seats about 60 indoors and another 60 outdoors on the deck, will be the addition of a long bar to create a more relaxed feel and a place for casual drinks.

The wine list is being designed by Italian wine specialist David Ridge, but Pepe also plans to serve classic Italian aperitifs such as Aperol spritzers, Negroni and Bellini.

“We want people to wander in for a drink – a glass of Prosecco and some Baccala mantecato (Venetian salt cod dip),” he says.

“My family lives in the area and we’re opening a local restaurant that will hopefully also be a destination for people visiting the area.”

Pepe aims to have the restaurant open in six weeks, offering lunch seven days, dinner Thursday to Saturday and weekend breakfasts.

Disclosure: Salvatore Pepe is married to InDaily publisher Amanda Pepe.


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