Tucson, AZ - The new Eastside restaurant Zio Peppe will open its dining room and patio for guests to dine on premises beginning Tuesday, June 1st. Chef/Owners Mat Cable and Devon Sanner are eager to welcome the public into the space at 6502 E. Tanque Verde Road, where they've given the façade and the interior a completely new look. “We’re thrilled to be able to invite our guests to join us and experience Zio Peppe in person,” says Sanner. “We’ll continue offering takeout and delivery for guests who would like to enjoy our food at home, but we’re elated in anticipation of a well-seated, convivial dining room,” he adds.
Zio Peppe’s menu showcases a confluence of Italian-American and Sonoran cuisines, reflecting the chefs’ love of comfort classics as well as the regional flavors and ingredients of their native Tucson. Characteristic of this Italian and Sonoran synergy is the Fettuccine Alfredorado, which Cable cites as being among the most popular dishes since the restaurant opened for takeout earlier this month. “Fresh pasta, a rich, unctuous, creamy sauce redolent of earthy, sweet, and slightly piquant red chiles… who can resist that?” Sanner asks. Similarly evincing the chefs’ penchant for cross-cultural culinary alchemy are the elote arancini: Mexican street vendors’ corn rolled into risotto balls, crusted with crushed corn tortilla chips, fried to perfection, and served with cilantro/lime crema, queso fresco, and Tajin.
What Cable and Sanner are particularly eager for guests to experience is the dinner and a show afforded by the open pizza kitchen in the dining room. When asked to characterize what style of pizza they make, the two emphatically say, “We make Tucson pizza.” Indeed, the stone hearth oven, fueled by mesquite and gas, and the assiduously tested dough recipe - a combination of Neapolitan Caputo 00 flour, locally grown BKW Farms hard red wheat, and local mesquite flour - give the pizzas a flavor profile that Cable and Sanner refer to as “Tucson terroir.” The pizza menu features classics like a Margherita with fresh, hand-pulled mozzarella, as well as the new school hit Figgy Stardust, with figs, honey & chamomile whipped goat cheese, mesquite smoked bacon, and pomegranate gastrique. “We’ve got pizzas that are unique; you could only get this in Tucson,” Cable says, referring to the Prickly Pickle, with its pepperoncini-brined cholla buds, nopalitos, and red onion escabeche.
While guests have been able to enjoy Zio Peppe for takeout and delivery for a few weeks now, “We really want people to come see the space; we couldn't be happier with how it came together,” says Sanner. Zio Peppe’s build-out and decor recapitulate nods to tradition as well as innovation. The interior is bedecked with black and white photos of Cable’s uncle, Joe Sottosanti, who opened Tucson’s first Sicilian pizzeria nearly 50 years ago. Sottosanti is further paid tribute in the restaurant’s name: Zio Peppe is Italian for “Uncle Joe”. The building’s exterior has also undergone a major facelift, the most dramatic feature of which is a mural by Modern Aquarian artist Ashley White, paying homage to Tucson as a UNESCO-designated World City of Gastronomy. The mural features visual references to indigenous food crops, layers of culinary tradition brought by subsequent generations of immigrants from Father Kino up to recent UN refugees who provide foraged and gleaned food for the restaurant through Iskashitaa Refugee Network, and unifying these elements, a table set with dishes from some of Tucson’s most celebrated chefs and restaurants.
The chef/owner duo jokingly refer to their location on Tanque Verde’s restaurant row as “the Bermuda Triangle of fun.” Cable says, “we’re right across the street from Trail Dust Town and Golf N’ Stuff, and in between a dispensary and the Cowpony Bar… you’ve got a full night’s entertainment for any age.”
Zio Peppe will be closed on Memorial Day Monday, May 31st, and will open for dine-in, takeout, and delivery seven days a week from 11 AM to 9 PM on June 1st. To view the full menu and to place online orders, visit https://ziopeppeaz.com. Phone: 520-888-4242