Get ready for the next hottest Traverse City dining experience: two restaurants under one roof. It’s sure to be a must-stop on every foodie’s list, as PepeNero moves into a larger romantic space and welcomes its ultra-trendy “little brother” Ballaró Wine Lounge September 6.

Behind the front doors of the neighboring restaurants—located on the first floor of the Kirkbride Hall building within the Village at Grand Traverse Commons—lounge-style music flows and the smell of Sicilian cuisine is so enchanting you can almost taste it.

Stepping inside Ballaró Wine Lounge, you feel instantly transformed to today’s Italy. The stylish atmosphere is perfectly paired to what’s on-trend in Italy right now—with details from the soundtrack to interior design carefully decided by co-owner Monica Lo Greco.

“We really tried to make it different than anywhere else in town,” she explains as she looks around the restaurant with modern elegance complementing the charm of its historic foundation.

Ballaro Wine Lounge

Guests are encouraged to indulge in an all-new menu of Italian tapas and a happy hour cocktail concept in the lounge, then dine deeper within the space at the new PepeNero location. It’s here where PepeNero fans will find the food they’ve come to know and love.

Georgio Lo Greco looks forward to his new kitchen being the size of his old restaurant, allowing for him to include some past dishes and additional fresh pasta and fish options on the PepeNero menu. “In Sicily, if we don’t see the head, we think it’s old fish,” is how Georgio describes some fresh seafood dishes on the menu. Monica adds, “We go the extra mile to overnight the fish so it’s fresh.”

ballaro wine lounge

Food photographs provided by PepeNero Chef Coburn MacNaughton.

Not only is fresh fish a priority for the duo, so is highlighting local farmers’ produce and authentic imports from Italy.

They offer retail as well, giving guests the opportunity make some of their restaurant recipes at home. Packs of fresh pasta, jarred marinara sauces, marmalades from their charcuterie boards, anchovies from Sicily, and authentic olive oils can all be purchased separately.


Food photographs provided by PepeNero Chef Coburn MacNaughton.

Ballaró Wine Lounge and PepeNero are located at 700 Cottageview Drive in Traverse City as of September 6, 2016. Reservations are highly recommended.

More Northern Michigan Food & Drink

Photo(s) by Emma Winowiecki