It has taken almost a decade for Peppi’s to go from the post-dancing diner to the spot to spend your night in the downtown core.
Peppi’s Ristorante and Lounge on Durham Street was once a little location for simple, scrumptious, traditional Italian sandwiches.
Then a new generation moved in to create even more art with a grilled panini press and doubling in size.
Jay and Julia Bertin purchased Peppi’s nine years ago from Julia’s uncle, aunt and dad.
“We were looking for a career change,” says Jay, a Kru who was looking to open a Muay Thai studio at the time.
“The opportunity just fell into our laps as we were no strangers to the sandwich scene,” says Julia.
Julia’s family emigrated from Calabria, Italy along with its catalogue of panini recipes. The restaurant was named after her grandpa, Nonno Giuseppe, otherwise known as Peppi.
Jay’s mom owned Sub City for 30 years, so he was well versed when it came to formulating jaw dropping sandwiches.
“Julia’s uncle was opposed to mayonnaise on sandwiches, but when we took over, we showed up with a bucket of mayo along with a grilled panini press,” Jay jokes.
Jay also is the sauce genius behind all the different varieties available for panini connoisseurs.
Over the last few years, the couple expanded the location, taking over the space of the neighbouring cafe and during COVID they obtained their liquor license and morphed Peppi’s into a sports bar and club complete with a DJ booth.
You can say the couple and building has some star studded status.
Both Jay and Julia star in the TV series, Letterkenny, as Mia-Sophia and Tyson, and the restaurant plays front and centre stage in the Letterkenny spin off series, Shoresy.
Thanks to that Canadiana, the restaurant has been featured on E-Talk Daily and blogs.
“Everyone loves the Pitter Patter pressed panini,” says Jay. “I developed it one day with the Creator of Letterkenny and it was deemed to be a sensation.”
The base meats in the sandwich are capicola, pastrami and ham with sauces and other additives like pickles and onions.
“One night after midnight a few years ago, a team from the set of E-Talk Daily randomly showed up to order and taste test it,” Julia recalls.
Another big deal is the Peppi Porchetta which is tossed in sun dried tomato, eggplant, roasted red peppers, mushrooms and placed on a toasted calabrese bun with mozzarella cheese.
Julia’s favourites are the Turkey Lou pressed panini with its goat cheese, turkey, arugula, fig spread and peppi mayo.
She also loves the Bambino pizza that offers bocconcini and mozzarella cheeses, proscuitto and arugula, along with hot honey drizzle and nonna’s meat sauce.
Jay likes The Mook panini which is a toasted meat combination of capicola, AAA steak and bacon with mook sauce developed by Jay himself. Mook is an Italian slur meaning “incompetent.”
He’s also a big fan of the Pitter Patter and the Banger pizza, which is a pepperoni pizza loaded with red onion, roasted red peppers, roasted mushrooms and green olives.
Evidently Jay enjoys working the kitchen. He prefers to design the sandwiches and sauces as well as the front of house artwork with his Interior Design background.
It’s a combination that works for Julia who prefers working the front of house with her public relations and communications backgrounds.
There is a plan to renew the patio this summer with one-lane traffic on Durham again. That should happen in the coming weeks complete with summer drinks like the Limoncello Spritz and sangrias.
The new summer menu will feature fresh salads, classic paninis and pizza on the newly formulated thin crust that was replicated after a visit to Lake Cuomo last August.
As for the future, they are still perfecting their “sandwich baby” and considering a second location and even franchising in the future.
In keeping with a new and younger generation calling Peppi’s home, Jay and Julia’s three children are now working there. Two more could follow suit in the coming years.
While Julia’s uncle has passed, she says her dad and aunt who were the previous owners love the new model, layout and menu. A blessing that means the world to Julia.
Peppi’s is open every day but Sunday. Hours are subject to change once patio season begins.
Stay up to date by visiting Peppi’s on Facebook, Instagram or its website.
Anastasia Rioux is a writer in Greater Sudbury. Let’s Eat! is made possible by our Community Leaders Program.