Peppe’s Bondi: The Transformation is Complete
The recent opening of another instantly popular restaurant on Bondi Road means the area’s transformation into a bona fide hub of quality restaurants and bars is now complete.
Bondi Road’s newest addition, Peppe’s, comes from Grace Watson and Joe Pagliaro, the duo behind Paperbark in Waterloo. While Paperbark is an upmarket establishment, Peppe’s is a far more casual pasta and gnocchi bar. Even though Peppe’s has moved into an area that is already home to some Italian neighbours in Elva and Totti’s, it still offers something a little different. This is because everything at Peppe’s is vegan.
Predictably, Peppe’s has been an instant hit with the locals of Bondi, a place teeming with open-minded foodies with progressive taste buds. While people of this ilk will no doubt continue to stream through Peppe’s doors, the menu’s absence of meat may be a source of apprehension for more conservative eaters.
I’ll admit, despite my role, I would never usually visit a vegan restaurant of my own volition. But I’m glad I did. And if I can convince just one red-blooded Aussie who usually prefers to order a good steak, red and bloody, to pay Peppe’s a visit, then this article will have been a success. I never would have guessed the best arancini balls of my life would be cheeseless either. But they were, and they came from Peppe’s.
In the kitchen is Joel Bennetts, a man who boasts an impressive resumé including Pier in Rose Bay and Three Blue Ducks in Bronte. Bennetts’ expertise is perhaps one of the main reasons Peppe’s never has to compromise the taste of their dishes in the name of veganism. Their succinct, ever-changing, plant-based menu is displayed on a blackboard and usually consists of some sides and a few different gnocchi and pasta dishes. Recent sides include bruschetta made with Iggy’s bread, which was a refreshing and colourful protest to the impending winter, and the aforementioned best arancini balls of my life, made with green olives and oregano arancini dipped in a spicy tomato aioli. These bad boys were crispy with a soft risotto filling and missed cheese about as much as I miss a cold Tasmanian winter. Recent gnocchi dishes include the gnocchi bianchi. The bianchi’s creamy sauce is made from pureed cauliflower and a rich porcini stock and is topped with breadcrumbs to add some crunch.
Peppe’s is doing its part to undo the less than flattering stigma surrounding veganism – there actually wasn’t a single dreadlock in site – and its greatest gift to the vegan community would have to be the tiramisu. The sponge cake is made with soy milk and soaked in espresso syrup. The cream is made from cashews, coconut cream, maple syrup, espresso and vanilla. If it wasn’t for Watson, Pagliaro and Bennetts, vegans would not usually be able to enjoy this particular dessert, which was as rich, sweet and delicious as any I’ve sampled. On the blackboard behind the bar is a list of ten or so natural wines, as well as a few cocktails including some Italian classics.
Another reason for Peppe’s popularity would have to be the prices. The gnocchi and pasta dishes go for around $22 and cocktails are just $15. This, combined with the fact they don’t take bookings, makes for a chilled-out, friendly atmosphere.
I loved Peppe’s and, much like the stereotypical vegan, I feel a strong inclination to tell everyone about it.
Address 261 Bondi Rd, Bondi
Phone No bookings
Open Wed-Mon 5-9.30pm
Prices $22 for gnocchi or pasta, $7 for sides, $15 for cocktails, $13 for dessert
Cards Master, Visa, Amex