Hmm, you think. It's in a strip mall?
When you enter Paesano, the first thing you
see is a beautiful display of wine bottles, elegantly backlit. Overall,
the classy, upscale interior has a contemporary feel. Buttery colored
paint on the walls sets the whole restaurant to a soft glow, emphasized
further by the hip light fixtures and interesting artwork. The opera music
playing in the background and the gentle conversation of fellow diners
brought us into a state of relaxation immediately.
The wine list focuses primarily on Italian
wines, although Chilean is another intriguing option; I went traditional
and had a class of Chianti. Our bread arrived hot and the butter was
served properly—instead of in a cold slab, it was warm enough to be
spread easily. These sound like small things but they are often the
telltale signs of a good restaurant.
We started our meal with the hot, homemade
Carpaccio ($8.90). A thinly sliced filet mignon, it had a great deal of
flavor and was very tender. We also tried the Mozzarella in Carozza
($6.90), deep-fried, breaded cheese served with a marinara dipping sauce.
The breading was thicker than other similar dishes I’d seen before and
made a nice contrast to the gooey interior. Artichoke Pepperonata ($7.90)
was a nice alternative to a salad and included salty capers, roasted red
peppers, and tangy artichoke hearts.
At Paesano, entrees are offered in small and
large portions, but as our server explained, “Small is a large and large
is extra-large.” Unless you have a really big appetite or want to share
a plate, small is probably plenty, especially considering that of our
entrees came over a bed of linguini.
The evening’s special, Chicken al Pomodori,
sounded delicious and we were not disappointed. The chicken had been
cooked in a soothing, nurturing tomato sauce with tomatoes and basil—and
had a wonderful addition of flavor and texture provided by big, juicy
shrimp. Another dish, Scallopine Saltimbocca Romana ($14.90/$19.90), was
also very good, a fragrant combination of veal, prosciutto ham, spinach
Seafood lovers have plenty to rejoice about
at Paesano. We tried the Seafood Combination ($15.90 for a small; $20.90
for a large), which offered shrimp, calamari, clams and mussels sautéed
in a spicy garlic sauce. The nice thing about this dish is its
versatility: you can order it spicy or mild and with either garlic or
tomato sauce. The Calamari Vegetable ($12.90/$15.90) featured tender,
breaded squid strips as well as carrots, zucchini, peppers and mushrooms.
To tie the meal up with a little dolce, or
sweetness, we split the Homemade Cheesecake ($4.00). It was moist and
flavorful, prepared in an East Coast style and topped with a strawberry
Service throughout the meal was pleasant and
professional—we never felt rushed, but we also received plenty of
Paesano is one of those classic
“don’t judge a book by its cover” examples. The minute you open the
door, you are transported to an elegant dining experience. It’s well
worth a stop and will be especially appreciated by those who enjoy Italian