Best Italian

Peno Soul Food

Staff Pick

In early March, Peno Soul Food owner Pepe Kehm saw the writing on the wall. Watching the discomfort rise in the regular diners who patronized his Wydown restaurant, Kehm was proactive in meeting the COVID-19 outbreak head-on. One of — if not the —first to double down on his takeout and delivery offerings, Kehm showed a prescient understanding of where things were headed and has never looked back. Yes, his southern-Italian influenced offerings are wonderful; the Sicilian style layered eggplant alone makes this restaurant worth the visit. However, what makes Peno so special is how much of an innovator Kehm has been throughout the pandemic. Whether it’s encouraging his bar manager to start a charity painting initiative that raised money for the restaurant’s employees or hosting an outdoor music and food festival to benefit local musicians, Kehm is always asking the question, “What can I do to help out in such difficult times?” His innovative spirit shines bright where there is little light. — Cheryl Baehr

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