What's up? Paesanos, that's what. http://www.paesanosriverwalk.com/ It was "date afternoon" the other day (Git your mind outta the gutter, people - I'm talkin' straight up LUNCH.) and hubby had a coupon given to him by a generous patient for Paesanos. If you are not local, Paesanos has a history in our lovely city. For years there was one location and that was on McCullough (I think. Unfortunately the original location could not be confirmed by our waiter nor could the reason why the owners left that location). I had gone there a few times back in my college days and I only remembered that..........I loved it. E. had never been there. So, we decided to make it a lunch date to avoid waiting and crowds (two things that as we age we really can tolerate less and less).
Score on those first two counts. We arrived at the riverwalk location a little past the noon hour on a Saturday to find the restaurant about a third full. It was about 8000 degrees outside so we opted for indoor dining. We were seated immediately, greeted, had our drink orders taken, and brought some really fragrant, spiced bread. It was similar to what you get at Macaroni's, but had more texture to the actual bread and did not taste processed to death. Did I like it? Let's just say, I restrained myself by not eating the entire loaf.
We ordered Parmesan Crusted Artichoke Hearts for our appetizer. Are you drooling? If not, you should be. If you have ever read my restaurant "reviews" you know that I fall hard for every artichoke I meet. These things were delish. Although I am no professional, I will try my best to describe them. They were artichoke hearts crusted (not heavy) in some sort of breading. I almost want to say that they might have been marinated in something yummy before being breaded. Regardless, the texture was heaven. It was slightly crunchy yet thin on the outside and tender heart on the inside. But, the sauce is really what made the dish. It was some sort of creamy, basil-y, white/green sauce. Covered with grated Parmesan. Not only super yummo, but so pretty. How's that for amateur? I was sorry I had ordered an actual entree after tasting these babies. And you know I have a HUGE appetite.
Our salads came while we were still ooing and ahing over these artichokes and I must say the salad was my one true regret of the afternoon. I opted for a Caesar salad (boring) while E. opted for the house salad with tomato, olives, and feta. My recommendation - go for what E. ordered if you are ordering a salad. He raved about it. Green olives on salad? Oh, yeah. I could go for that. As I listened to E. rave about his salad the entire time I was eating mine I could only think, "Why? Why did I order Caesar???" Really the only Caesar salad I have ever eaten that was worth it's weight was at Silo http://siloelevatedcuisine.com/. But, that's before I was a pseudo restaurant blogger, so I will have to revisit Silo and blog about that later.
I do not regret my entree. I went with classic Shrimp Paesano which I have had before, and I was not sorry. It was just like I remember it....only better. I'm sorry I cannot describe it. You will just have to eat it yourself. It's delish. Shrimp lightly breaded and yummy, lemony, buttery, garlicky, fresh pasta-y, and enough to eat the next day (or later the same day if you can't resist). E. got chicken fettuccine. I refused to taste his because I do not condone ordering chicken fettuccine in any Italian restaurant (sorry, E.). For the record, he said it was some of the best he's had.
Dessert? Well, here's a shocker. I didn't order any. Boo. Did I say I had one regret? I have two. I so wish I had ordered the chocolate turtle? cake. I think the waiter said "turtle." I have a tendency to stop listening once I hear the word "chocolate."
Prices - about right. Service - friendly, attentive, quick.
So, to sum up: Eat at Paesanos as soon as you can. Your tummy will thank you.