Thursday, January 13, 2011


Snow day means working from home, and that means Paesano's for lunch.  We're only 3 blocks from this little hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop but don't get in nearly enough.  Every sandwich is made from scratch with the absolute best ingredients available.  They roast their own suckling pig for the Arista, grind their own lamb for the Gustaio, and make their own crepes for the Crispelle.  There's room for 6 at the tiny counter, and if you score one of these primo seats you get a front row view of the action in the "kitchen" that also serves as prep station and storage area.  All dealings are in cash, but luckily there is an ATM at 3rd Federal just down the street.  

I shy away from calling these creations hoagies, as they are so much more than that.  A hoagie is something you get from the Wawa balloon man when they are on sale in August.  These are individual works of art that happen to be on a seeded italian roll. 

I've had most of the menu now, at least at the Girard Ave location.  They have an expanded selection at their second location at 9th & Christian in the Italian market including the elusive Bolognese that was featured in the Philly mag cheap eats piece over the summer.  However, owner Peter McAndrews is slotted to open a Sicilian-French BYO in this space and move Paesano's down the block a bit.  Up to this point, my favorite item on the menu has been the Arista, with the Paesano coming in a close second.  Both are a hot mess, sure to leave as evidence of your purchase a wrapper filled with sauce & juices that you'll want extra bread to soak up.  This time I went with the Gustaio - served on a thick pita that is crisped up in a frying pan right before assembly.  It's more gyro than sandwich, a nod to the Greeks with hand formed ground lamb patties that are seared right in front of you.  Add to this a base of gorgonzola cheese, sun-dried cherry compote, roasted fennel seeds and fresh arugula, my friend you've got yourself a Zeus of a meal.  

We finished up with a side of the Potota Arrosto, which are basically roasted red potatoes glistening in olive oil and presumably pork fat of some kind, then topped with shreds of sharp provolone.  This is then wrapped up in tin foil and thrown in the oven for a few minutes to get the cheese melting.  For $2, this is the perfect side dish. Most of the sandwiches are $8, and drinks are only a buck each.  They have canned soda, bottled water and a range of Hank's root beers including black cherry and orange cream.  I think it's time to head finally make the trek down to South Philly to sample the rest of the menu.  

-T. Kaso

Northern Liberties
152 W Girard Ave
Philadelphia, PA 19123
Italian Market 
901 Christian St
Philadelphia, PA 19147

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