Rating: ★★★★ (4) out of 5 stars
Food: Known for their fresh-baked pizzas
Atmosphere: Small yet intimate dining room; louder bar scene with high-top tables and TVs
Parking: Yes (street parking)
Service: Friendly waitstaff, entrees served reasonably fast, reservation needed on weekends
Price Range: $$$
Unique Feature: Extensive Beer/Wine-by-the-Glass List
A hidden gem of Conshohocken, Pepperoncini’s is a welcoming Italian restaurant/bar nestled along the Schuylkill Rivertrail, and though you won’t find it located near most of the local Conshy eateries, word of mouth has kept it crowded.
Considering Pepperoncini’s local notoriety, assuming that the dining room would be open without making a reservation was my first mistake. We arrived at the neighborhood restaurant at 8:30 on a Friday night and my second mistake was thinking that the dining patrons and boisterous Happy Hour crowd would have left by then. The waitstaff was more than accommodating though, seating us at a table in the bar area.
As for the atmosphere, it was difficult to carry a conversation, but it’s tough to place blame on Pepperoncini’s, as they made sure the TVs showing the Phillies were muted. The bar itself is beautifully crafted, and provides a very vast range of beers by the draft and wines by the glass. While reviewing the appetizer portion of the menu, our waitress took time to review every beer on tap, even though it was written on a chalkboard behind her (a very considerate gesture).
During the wait for our drinks, another waitress brought us over bread with dipping oil, and was pleasant and attentive towards any questions regarding the menu as we made our decisions. The bread itself, though complimentary, was very standard and nothing to write home about.
We decided on the Bruschetta, which was traditional yet filling. The best call of the night was ordering the Fried Calamari, easily the greatest interpretation of a standard appetizer we have ever eaten. The calamari itself was perfectly seasoned and served with warmed marinara and a basil aioli sauce that was a perfect touch.
As we anticipated the arrival of our entrees (only a 15 minute wait), the waitress checked with us to see if we needed refills on our drinks. My drink was refilled right away, but the waitress forgot my girlfriend’s water. Pepperoncini’s continued impressing us though, as another member of the waitstaff walking by checked if we needed anything (this was the 3rd person that checked on us amidst a packed bar scene), and made sure that the water was brought over post haste.
Due to the extensive entrée selections, we spent a good amount of time deliberating on the best meal. Like most Italian restaurants, Pepperoncini’s offers their own spin on traditional entrees. Instead of standard gnocchi, they serve Gnocchi Alla Sophia Loren, which mixes the customary pasta with pine nuts and a port wine. They also serve very ambitious meals such as the Chicken San Nicola, combining sautéed chicken with shrimp, crab, capers, and more.
After wrapping up the appetizers, our entrees arrived with perfect timing. Because I had reviewed their menu online beforehand (Visit Site Here), it was apparent that Pepperoncini’s takes pride in their wide selection of personal size (or large, 16”) pizzas. I decided on the Fresh White Herb Pizza, which was an excellent choice. The crust was very thin and crispy, but showed no signs of being burnt whatsoever; the various cheeses, herbs, and oils gave it a kick as well. My girlfriend ordered the Grilled Portobello Salad with an addition of shrimp, which, after exchanging our meals, agreed that the pizza was a better choice. While the salad was well dressed and chock full of berries, nuts, and gorgonzola, the Portobello and grilled shrimp were cooked well but served lukewarm.
Due to the generous size of the entrees, we both had leftovers but only got the pizza wrapped up. Though not shown on the menu, we asked the waitress if dessert was an option (which it was). She went through a few options, but we played it safe with Vanilla Gelato. The simple dessert was filling and left us very satisfied with the dining experience as a whole.
Overall, Pepperoncini’s is a fantastic Italian restaurant that stands out not only for their food, but also their passion to keep the customer satisfied. It is no surprise that word of mouth has kept patrons coming back for seconds, and I have no regrets spilling the beans on this small (but valued) Conshohocken treasure.