Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Ayyy...Paisan...ohs (Paisano's)

Paisano's in Rutherford. A local Italian restaurant that is somehow not well known...then again, maybe it is, since it seems to be full every time I am there. Their pasta is made fresh daily on premises. I have frequented the establishment numerous times and have been happy every time. The service is friendly, the food excellent and the price...oh my gosh (sorry, channeling the never seen Shark Tale there...what?, I have a child). Where was I...price. It is what you would expect for a fine Italian meal. You could have a nice dinner for two for under $50 or go all out and hit the century mark (that's us). The atmosphere is great for a romantic dinner or a boisterous group of friends. One thing to note is Rutherford is a "dry" town. No liquor licenses available, but there are two liquor stores (possibly more) in town with a good selection of wines. All restaurants are prepared for this and are BYO. Never tried hard liquor, but...

In our most recent visit we started with bread. Instead of the olive oil with fresh pepper, they provide a mini ramekin with a mixture of olive oil, tomato sauce and some other chunky flavorings. Sort of a hybrid bruschetta. Also tried the Ginger Calamari. The calamari was light and crispy. The sauce a bit too sweet for me (a recurring theme, I know), but a nice touch (other choices were Cajun or plain).

My significant other chose the Short Rib Ravioli. My stomach just grumbled. Yes, one more time. SHORT RIB RAVIOLI. In fresh made pasta. Now, I don't know about you, but for most of my life I only had dry pasta. Either Kraft Macaroni and Cheese or something with a cartoonish picture of an Italian mom on the box. When I discovered fresh pasta, somewhere in my 20s, I quickly became jealous of every stereotypical Italian kid I knew in high school that had their moms catering to their every whim and hand kneading and cutting pasta (using whatever you want to call that classic metal hasn't changed in 200 years pasta cutter thingy). I mean, every day. Pasta. Fresh. It's like the difference between Vlasic and real pickles pulled out of an oak vat by a shop owner on Delancey. It's like the difference between SD and HD. It's like the difference between sex and Durex!...So...uh...fresh pasta, BIG difference. Throw some short rib inside that. Seriously, can you imagine? (I know some of those old school Italians are frowning, but Paisano's says themselves "PASTA...with a new twist") Short ribs and fresh pasta? Finger licking good...I think that was a Ritz cracker...

I chose the Grilled Bone-in Ribeye (24 oz). Medium rare, sweet and spicy (I'll have to hit up the Gorgonzola another time...). Thick, tender, juicy. Cooked as requested to perfection. Covered with tiny chunks of some unknown chili that gave it a bit of zing and glazed with a sweetness that echoes the Orient. I cut part of it using my fork...by itself. Read that last line again. Only a few times do you really understand what "melt in your mouth" means when it comes to steak. This was one of them. Delicious. Seriously, get thee to Paisano's and order thineself a Ribeye. The sides were simply overshadowed by the Ribeye, for me, but tasty. Mashed potatoes and some nice crunchy fresh veggies. Dessert was a chocolate lava cake. The same as anywhere. But the steak makes me want to take it and slap somebody's mother. It makes we want to purchase large tracts of land to grow healthy cows and rub them with fictional beer and sake and feed them fresh cut grass to create cuts of meat that can be prepared in this way. It makes me want to go back and try the Gorgonzola version.

Paisano's 131 Park Ave., Rutherford, NJ