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Upon entering into Sal e Pepe, a smiling hostess waits by the door to greet guests. The restaurant offers a variety of seating; some may choose to sit at the bar just past the entryway, others in the dining areas to the right and left of the entrance.
The room to the right doubles as a private party room during the weekdays and is available for hosting events such as bridal parties, work gatherings, and other special occasions.
The dining area is illuminated by a sea of candles attractively reflecting off the warm colors of the walls.
The scene makes for a romantic atmosphere for two or a relaxed setting to catch a meal with friends and colleagues. The space also accommodates family dining, so there is room for all — 125 people to be exact.
In warmer weather, the adjoining outdoor patio area, which seats 32, is an option. Catch a cool breeze as you dine out under the green umbrellas.
The inside décor showcases a different salt and pepper shaker set on each table — a theme following on the name “Sal e Pepe,” which is “salt and pepper” in Italian. Many shakers have been personally collected by owners Angelo Marini and his wife, Renia, throughout their travels, or have been given to them by customers.
Angelo Marini, who opened the restaurant in 2005, describes the atmosphere of Sal e Pepe as “polished casual.” It is a “come as you are” environment that welcomes a variety of customers, many of whom are regulars.
Sal e Pepe has so many guests who frequent the restaurant that the owners have a Royalty Rewards loyalty program with more than 10,000 members. For those who choose to partake in the yearly package, benefits include a monthly spending gift card and a free dinner for two, as well as other VIP offerings.
Their valued customers helped earn Sal e Pepe Connecticut Magazine’s 2017 Readers’ Choice Winner for Best Overall Restaurant, Best Italian Restaurant, and Best Desserts in Connecticut.
Mr Marini said, “I think what sets us apart is that everything is made to order. The vast majority of our dishes are sautéed fresh. You know that when you get your meal it was made just for you.”
A Sample Of The Menu
Appetizers: Nine options are available on the dinner menu. One of the most popular items is Maine mussels, which come with a choice of Gorgonzola cream sauce or white wine sauce.
Soup: All soups are made fresh daily. Favorites include the Italian wedding soup and the Tuscan peasant soup; the latter has a chicken base with sweet Italian sausage, pasta, beans, and vegetables.
Salads: Among the variety of salads, a bestseller has to be the Caesar salad. It includes Parmesan crackers, instead of croutons, and dressing — all made in house.
Specials Menu: Many customers solely order off the specials menu because of the constant variety. There are typically six to eight specials, which usually include a stew, a fish, a steak, and ravioli special.
Lunch Menu: Among the different lunch options is a section titled “Pastabilities,” where any of Sal e Pepe’s 14 pastas can be matched with any of its 11 sauces. The entree is served with a soup or salad, all for $14.95.
Entrees: Entrees range in price from $17.95 for baked eggplant Parmigiana to $32.95 for filet mignon. A top seller is the Parmesan tilapia served over a green pea risotto, $24.95.
Pasta: There are 12 different pasta options on the dinner menu, with their Seafood Ravioli being another bestselling dish. Tilapia, salmon, bay scallops, and shrimp are stuffed in fresh pasta pockets.
Desserts: The desserts are made in house. The Nutella mousse pie is the restaurant’s signature dessert. It has an Oreo cookie crust, caramel, Heath Bar Crunch, dark chocolate ganache topping, and of course, a Nutella mousse center. Another dessert highlight is the gluten-free drunken cherry parfait, which has Ferris Acres ice cream along with special Amarena cherries that are soaked in grappa. It also comes with chocolate sauce and fresh whipped cream.
Kid’s Menu: All meals are $12.95, which includes a main course, a drink (a choice of soda, milk, or apple juice) and a “messy sundae.”
Martinis, Wine, and Beer: The Martini Menu includes Sal e Pepe’s very own Basil Martini, which is a combination of Grey Goose vodka, fresh lime juice, fresh basil, and simple syrup. Order from a selection of nearly 50 wines, by the glass or the bottle, as well as from a variety of beers.
Sal e Pepe Contemporary Italian Bistro, at 97 South Main Street in Newtown, is open Monday through Thursday, from noon to 9 pm; Friday, from noon to 10 pm; Saturday, from 4 to 10 pm; and Sunday, from 4 to 8 pm. Takeout, catering, and seating reservations are accepted by calling 203-426-0805. For more information, visit salepeperestaurant.com or facebook.com/salepeperestaurant.