Cute Italian Restaurant in Maryland

Friday night I had dinner with my mom at Pepino’s in Burtonsville, MD. It’s a cute little family owned Italian restaurant tucked away in the corner of a sleepy shopping center. We’ve been going here ever since we moved into the area in 2002, as it’s not too far from the high school my sister and I went to. I think it finally deserves a blog post.

The most impressive thing about Pepino’s is the atmosphere. They really treat you like family. While waiting for a table, we had a lovely conversation with the owner, a very nice lady named Margaret. Another couple of people were also waiting and had no place to sit, so right away she said “Here, sit here and talk to my dad,” and sat them right down with her father. It was so sweet!

The food at Pepino’s is Delicious. While you’re waiting, they’ll bring you warm Italian bread. Olive oil and cheese is already on the table: no stinginess there! Pastas are priced around $9-12, with most of the entrée’s at $11-16: pretty comfortable, especially considering the generous portions. My mom had the eggplant parmigiana, which she was raving about. I’m not a huge fan of eggplant, so I went and got the veal parmigiana. Delicious. Cooked perfectly. Smothered in the most delectable homemade sauce you’ll ever get at a restaurant. Slightly on the tangy side. Perfect with the cheese on the table.

We were too stuffed to order dessert. I actually had enough left over for lunch the next day, but sadly I forgot to grab my doggie bag. I almost cried when I realized I forgot it.

Like I said, I’ve been there a million times before, and I’ll go a million times again. Great food, great atmosphere. Actually, not a bad Valentine’s day idea…

Pepinos Italian Kitchen on Urbanspoon

Politics, Religion, and Tomato Sauce

For my upcoming holiday party, my cousin and I will be making several homemade pizzas. As an Italian-American, I know there is no topic more controversial and passion-inducing than spaghetti sauce. When you grown up in an Italian family, you know that the three things you never discuss with someone are Politics, Religion, and Spaghetti Sauce.

Italian Americans go around to different homes and restaurants and put every dining experience into one of two groups, “authentic” and “not authentic.” Having grown up in this environment, I can tell you that while spaghetti sauce is no laughing matter, the truth is that every family makes is differently. There is more than one “authentic.” But don’t ask an Italian to admit it. I’m 25% German too.

However, PIZZA sauce is quite different from Pasta sauce. True, in Neapolitan pizzerias there is not a whole lot of difference, but the main distinction here in America is one word: Oregano. Pizza sauce has it. Pasta does not. When you’re making PIZZA, feel free to add oregano, we love it.

WARNING: I know plenty of Italians who would never speak to you again if you so much as mentioned the possibility of including Oregano in pasta. It’s blasphemy. Once you taint their precious spaghetti sauce with oregano, it’s no longer edible (unless you put it on dough and cover it with mozzarella).