At the busy intersection of Rose Hill Avenue and Geyer Road on the south side of Kirkwood is an Italian gem: Peppe’s Apt. 2 Restaurant. The beauty of Peppe’s begins with the exterior black and beige awning shading picture windows that reveal an all white interior with several sparkly chandeliers. The décor is simply a preview to the authentic menu and delicious meal that waits.
Peppe’s Apt. 2 opened in Kirkwood about a year ago. Owned by Peppe Profeta, best known for his former restaurant on the Hill, Gian Peppe’s, which closed around 2000, Peppe’s Apt. 2 is a worthy progeny of his previous establishment.
Peppe’s menu is arranged just like a menu from a restaurant in Florence or Rome. It begins with antipasti, continues with insalate, followed by primi piatti – pasta dishes and secondi piatti – meat dishes. To dine like an Italian, order from all four sections. While this seems like too much food, Peppe’s makes this experience possible by offering two entrée sizes (and prices) for all the pasta and meat dishes.
Antipasti, appetizers, are divided by cold or hot items. The Coctail di Trota Affumicata is a cold smoked trout served in a martini glass with gin aioli, capers, red onion and crostini. This dish is a savory blend of flavors not to be missed. The Grigliata di Scampi is a hot appetizer of grilled shrimp in bread crumbs with lemon butter. The shrimp were tender and grilled to perfection with just the right amount of garlic and lemon, scampi so good I wished we’d placed two orders.
Service at Peppe’s is outstanding with an attentive and accommodating wait staff. I asked our waiter to surprise me with an Italian cocktail and when I didn’t care for the first drink, he quickly replaced it with a second. Our waitress on our second visit was equally professional, offering suggestions on wine and other menu items. Peppe’s is worth a visit for the quality service alone.
Unfortunately, there are a few flaws. The dining room is surprisingly noisy when having dinner for two, but less noticeable in a larger group. The house salad, Di Peppe, is a run-of-the-mill St. Louis Italian restaurant salad. Skip this romaine lettuce salad for the Spinaci or Mista Verde salads. These two salads both have stronger cheeses and more flavorful dressings.
The other flaw is the Costola di Vitello, a veal chop in Chianti reduction. This t-bone-like chop was too fatty and bony, athough the accompanying sauce was delicious.
The pasta dishes, however, are outstanding. Ravioli Toscani are stuffed with veal and Portobello mushrooms and served in a cream sauce with peas and Parma ham. A filling dish, this earthy flavor combination is worth at least a half order, or a share of the full order.
I shared a full order of Linguine con Tonno with my husband to compliment our meat entrees. The linguine is tossed with imported Genoa tuna in tomato, garlic, basil and red pepper. This slightly spicy dish sounded so unique we didn’t want to pass it up. We weren’t disappointed.
Two veal staples, Picata al Limone and Saltimbocca, are better than the average Hill restaurant, but Peppe’s distinctive meat dishes are a better bet. The Lombata al Burro, a bone-in ribeye with a gorgonzola and sundried tomato butter was grilled to perfection. The halibut with mushrooms and the filet mignon with gorgonzola sauce were two of the nightly specials. The halibut was flaky and tender with an excellent sauce. And the filet was described as “one of the best steaks I’ve eaten in a long time.”
For dessert, we ordered lovely two-bite cannolis made in-house for each person at the table at our waitress' suggestion. It was the perfect amount of sweetness to cap off a large dinner.
For an elegant meal that feels like an escape to Italy, I recommend Peppe’s Apt. 2, a true Italian gem.