The Jersey Journal
By Emmy Needham, Journal restaurant reviewer
If you enjoy eating pasta like I enjoy eating pasta, have I got a restaurant for you! Paisanos Restaurant in Rutherford is a small neighborhood place with pleasant but undistinguished decor…
The atmosphere is informal, but the kitchen is serious about what it does. It caters to the neighborhood crowd, and there seemed to be many repeaters. A woman sitting beside us said she visit’s the restaurant about twice a week. Another woman said she had been out of town and was suffering “Paisano’s withdrawal.” Many diners bring their own wine, and a liquor store is conveniently close by if you forget.
All of the food we ate and saw looked great, but the strength of Paisanos menu is its extra-large selection of freshly made dishes featuring their daily homemade pastas. The menu calls it “pasta with a new twist,” and among the more than 30 listings there were offerings I have rarely seen.
Freshness and quality of ingredients are prized. A loaf of homemade bread is presented with a spread of delicious, heart healthy minced sun-dried tomatoes in an olive oil and herb base. Patrons are asking that it be packaged for sale. Soups are prepared to order and we began with stratciatella alla Fiorentina, known in Italian as “rag soup” because of the tattering shreds that form as an egg and grated cheese mixture is stirred into simmering broth.
At Paisano’s, a Florentine touch is added with perfectly cooked leafy spinach that retains its bright green color and crunch with an earthy taste. Stuffed eggplant gave us two large pieces exuding rich parsley-flecked ricotta and melted mozzarella cheese from the formed fried eggplant wrap. Rollatini with cheese is similarly served as an entree- you receive three pieces along with a salad and pasta.
One of our entrees afforded us a pasta of choice and we were happy to have the tomato sauce on linguini as a side dish. This is one of the few times in an Italian restaurant that tomato dishes were not the stellar attraction.
You may have heard it said that Italians and tomatoes just naturally go together, but there are many dishes at Paisanos that do not include tomato, and this was reflected in the entrees we chose- they were without tomatoes.
A superb Chicken Romano had two very large hefty breasts sauteed with marsala wine. They were blanketed with freshly cooked spinach and warm melting provolone oozing with each forkful of the moist chicken.
Copious amounts of fish were in our Seafood Malafemina. Served on a big oval platter were many well-scrubbed clams in open shells sitting upright throughout the foundation of my choice of penne pasta.
Artfully placed were lots of shrimp and scallops. At Paisano’s is the highest priced menu item.