Restaurant Review: Paesano Restaurant & Wine Bar

My new hometown of Ann Arbor, Michigan, boasts a vibrant and eclectic food scene. You can find a good spot for whatever ethnic cuisine you’re craving or indulge in an award-winning fine dining establishment or good ole pub. Ann Arbor really has it all. So, which among these reigns supreme? For me, Paesano Restaurant & Wine Bar gets my vote for best overall food, service, setting and knowledge and accommodations for people with food allergies and specialty diets.

I’ve been coming to Paesano for years on and off, but only recently started dining at the classic Italian restaurant more frequently since I moved to Ann Arbor at the end of last year. I don’t ever remember actually ordering a meal from the menu, but the creative chefs, along with an abundance of local, in-season produce has never not delivered an amazing meal for me.

Local and in-season are basic themes of the Paesano menu as each menu item is marked as such. Gluten free dishes also are indicted, and gluten-free pasta and bread are always available, even as the menu changes seasonally. One of my favorite items that also always is available is the minestrone soup. The soup is usually served with pasta and cheese, but these things are added later and the base is gluten-free, vegan and absolutely delicious. It’s a combination of veggies and beans with an herbaceous tomato broth. 

Of late, my go-to has been a cup or two of the minestrone soup, side salad and a combination of their seasonal vegetables with their fantastic tomato sauce. This is a custom entree that has never appeared on the menu and yet I’ve never had any trouble ordering it.

Nevertheless, I was BLOWN AWAY this evening when the manager, Ryan, recognized me and remembered my special order. While our waitress was getting our drinks, Ryan came over to the table and exclaimed, “Welcome Back!” We exchanged pleasantries and then he proceeded to tell me my usual order. He ran down the items as well as the preparation process: minestrone soup, no pasta or cheese; side salad with just lettuce and cucumber; and an array of vegetables sauteed in olive oil and tossed in tomato sauce with an extra side of tomato sauce. 

My mouth dropped.

I nodded my confirmation and he asked which vegetables I wanted because they had just changed menus and had different options than on my last visit. I asked for shaved brussel sprouts, kale, wild mushroom, basil, broccolini, and kale sprouts, which I’ve never had and was intrigued by. Ryan said that was no problem and he would communicate my order to our waitress and the kitchen staff to ensure everything was made safely and correctly.

It was all I could do not to give Ryan a giant hug. As soon as he left, I turned to my best friend and proclaimed my love of Paesano and general amazement by Ryan’s memory and tremendous effort to make me my special meal. So many restaurants roll their eyes at me when I request a customized entree. Ryan made me feel like my special request was not even just ok, but expected and welcomed. He wanted to make me happy and make sure my food was safe.

I cannot say how much that means to me. Thank you, Ryan, and all the Paesano staff! I cannot wait to return.

And my dinner turned out spectacular again!

 

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