"Don't make me choose! You have to choose for me.", I say to my husband after sitting down for lunch at Paesano's. I'm looking up at the chalkboard menu filled with colorful row after row of completely original sounding (not to mention delicious) sandwich creations, and my stomach only has room for one today. "Well, what are you craving?" says my husband, "A sandwich" I reply. Hmmmm, now I'm starting to realize why I'm having such a hard time deciding. I love ALL sandwiches...breakfast sandwiches, Vietnamese sandwiches, double stuffed deli sandwiches, heck, even ice-cream sandwiches. This will not be easy.
Ok, you might be thinking to yourself, "What's with you and sandwiches?". That's a fair question with a silly answer, which is, "They're freaking awesome!". Let me explain. I'm such a fan of sandwiches because they're like little works of art. In theory they're nothing more than a pile of food that you can eat with your hands, but in my mind it's all about layering flavors and textures, which, is what makes even the most hoity toity high-end cuisine delicious. Sandwiches just take that idea and make it accessible to the masses. A great sandwich, much like a great plate of food, should start with good quality ingredients, have different textures, a nice mix of acid, salt and creamy-ness, a stand out ingredient and just the right amount of moisture. As I think back on my Paesano sandwich and currently, as I re-read the menu, I see they agree with me 100%.
Look at this menu...A roasted lamb sausage sandwich with gorgonzola, roasted arugula and fennel! A sandwich made with meat from a whole roasted suckling pig and topped with broccoli rabe, italian long hots and sharp provolone. Oh, and the piece de resistance! The freakin' Liveracce!!! A sandwich with crispy chicken liver, salami and all the fixins! **note: this is the one I'm getting when I go back...which might be after I finish writing this post**
After much deliberation I decided on their namesake sandwich, the Paesano. The hubby decided on the Arista. **Please forgive these pictures. When a sandwich junkie is in sandwich heaven, the quality of the pictures tend to suffer just a bit**
The Paesano was a beef brisket sandwich with horseradish mayo (of course!), roasted tomatoes, pepperoncino, sharp provolone and topped with a fried egg. Yes. It was amazing. You can't go wrong with beef and horseradish, but then add the sharp tang of provolone, the acid from the tomatoes and pepperoncino and the creamy texture of the fried egg and you've got a sandwich to write home about. Usually when I see a fried egg on top of a sandwich I think that the chef has stock in Lipitor. Basically, sometimes the egg gets lost in the mix and is there primarily to add 100 calories and raise your cholesterol a point. But this time the egg served a vital purpose and I was happy that it was there.
The hubby chose the Arista because once his eyes send a signal to his brain that "suckling-pig-anything" is on the menu, the brain stops receiving any more signals until they are of the suckling-pig-in-the-mouth variety. His had AMAZING texture. The tender pork mixed with the bite from the broccoli rabe was a match made in mouth-feel heaven. And the flavor was a winner as well. I mean, you can't go wrong with whole roast pig.
So there we were. Wiping our faces down with the little wet-naps they provide (because you need them), rubbing our full bellies...and STILL wondering what the other sandwiches might taste like. When you can leave your customers wanting more, even when their bellies are as full as can be, you've got a winner.
Paesano's Philly Style
901 Christian Street
P.S. **There is actually plenty of seating inside. Another plus! Most good sandwich joints in Philly are sorely lacking in seating**
P.P.S. ***They also had some soups, salads, specials and even dessert***
P.P.P.S. ****Go ahead and stroll through the Italian Market while you're there. Looking for fresh English Peas? Perhaps some wild boar? Live crabs or even some boot-leg cd's? You can find it all...and more there.****