Since opening in a former 90s-era nightclub in October last year, Don Peppino's has won over Sydney diners with their good-times brand of new-wave Italian dinners and hospitality. Now, after a two-week eating adventure from Milan through to Sicily, the trio behind the Paddington pop-up return with a time-honoured Italian tradition – Sunday long lunches.
From 30 June, Don Peppino's will switch off the fluorescent beams lining that sweeping staircase entrance, and let the sunlight in on the last Sunday of every month.
"We hosted a Sardinian Sunday feast with our good friend Giorgio de Maria for a wine event, and realised how great the space is during the day," says floor manager Tom Merryweather. "Plus, we've missed a lot of our hospitality friends who work the same nights we are open and want them to be able to come and enjoy the space too."
The handwritten à la carte menu takes cues from their travels through the culinary motherland. "We zigzagged down through the country, from Milan through to Tuscany, Umbria, Abruzzo and Puglia, then on to Sicily," says chef Daniel Johnston. "We really felt the immediate changes in food style and cuisine of every region that we visited. It was two weeks of Med summer living, eating alfresco, all raw seafood and two pastas a day."
Prawns and pistachio, a common pairing on Sicilian plates, have made it onto the menu as a tonnarelli. There will be northern winter classics too, such as tortellini alla Panna and rotolo di pasta al ragù. Johnston also noticed Italian produce was harvested a lot younger than in Australia – he's hoping to speak to the restaurant's suppliers about acquiring younger vegetables for upcoming seasons.
The wines, too, get an Italian refresh. During their road trip, they stopped by the vineyard of Gazzetta wines in Bolsena, produced by their dear friend Trish Nelson. Two years ago, the Don Peppino's crew helped pick and press a wine, which was bottled at the end of 2018. The wine, christened Bianco Peppino, has been imported by Giorgio de Maria wines, and is going straight on the restaurant's drinks list.
And when Don Peppino's say long lunch, they mean it. "There's only one sitting, with no re-booked tables" says Merryweather. "It's a leisurely long lunch."
Don Peppino's, 1 Oxford St, Paddington, NSW, (02) 9326 9302, donpeppinos.com.au. Sunday lunches will take place on the last Sunday of every month, commencing 30 June. Bookings available at 1pm.