3411 Washtenaw Ave. Ann Arbor, MI 48104 734-971-0484
“Ooo la la. This is a nice place!” praised my 3-year-old daughter.
We were standing in Paesano’s, an Italian restaurant serving Ann Arbor since 1984. While my husband and I had previously enjoyed date nights at Paesano’s, this was the first time we had ventured there with our kids, ages 3 and 7.
Warm and cozy
A fireplace, sofa, wine bottles, and autumnal décor greeted us in the lobby and now we were surrounded by warm wood tones and cream and maroon accents as we strolled to our table. The setting was what I like to call “fancy Italian farmhouse”.
Our kids were handed children’s menus and crayons while my husband and I perused the menu and wine list. The kids could choose spaghetti, lasagna, pizza, ravioli, a chicken sandwich or burger. Prices range from $4.50 to $6.50. My 7-year-old chose the burger and fries, his favorite menu selection for the past half-year. My daughter likes Mac and cheese or chicken tenders, but neither were offered. My proactive husband asked if she could try ravioli. This was warmly accommodated, although the sample ravioli was cooked to order and it seemed like an eternity (5 minutes!) for a 3-year-old to wait. By the way, she didn’t like it and decided on pizza.
About half of Paesano’s mouthwatering dishes are available year-round. The others are seasonal Chef Isabella Nicoletti, a native of Italy, creates her menus utilizing fresh ingredients based on the time of year.
I selected the Cavatelli with Frutti di Mare & Arugula Pesto, pasta tossed with clams, mussels, shrimp and
scallops. My husband went with Mama Bessie Pasta, fettuccine with artichokes, olives and chicken in a tomato sauce. Both dishes are available year round.
After ordering, we indulged in the warm, light bread with herb butter. Next came a cup of minestrone soup for me and a Fall Insalate—aka salad—for my husband. The soup was hearty and flavorful. The salad was topped with lemon slices that complimented the salty taste of the anchovy vinaigrette.
Slow and steady wins the race
The pace at Paesano’s is unhurried, something to keep in mind when dining with children. Our bread was devoured and the placemats fully decorated before my 7-year-old whined “Our food’s never gonna come.” Meanwhile, my daughter left the table to explore a big bottle in the corner.
Worth the wait
“Look how big the root beer is!” she exclaimed.
“That’s not root beer, silly.”
(Great, my preschooler knows what beer is!)
Actually, it was olive oil. When our food arrived. It was apparent that it had been worth the wait. My pasta was al dente with generous amounts of pesto. The scallops were perfectly seared and my kids liked watching me scoop out the fleshy mussels. My husband said his fettuccine was “real good” and ate every bite.
I almost fainted when I noticed my daughter eating her side salad, dipping red leaf lettuce in ranch dressing. My husband snuck some of her pizza commenting “Even the pepperoni is good!”
“This is the best burger I’ve ever had in my life,” proclaimed my son. Not to knock Paesano’s, but he says that about every burger he eats.
We ended with House Cappuccinos for the adults and lemon ice for the kids. The House Cappuccinos were served with chocolate shavings, whipped cream, and cinnamon sticks. Truly fabulous! The kids nearly finished their big, shared portion of lemon ice, so light and sweet. It was a heavenly ending to a meal and dining experience that was close to divine.
THE SHORT COURSE
To avoid wait Make a reservation anytime for any size party
Noise level Moderate
Bathroom amenities Clean with changing stations
High chairs Yes
Got milk Whole and Skim
Kids’ menu Yes
Anything healthy for kids Some items from the Kids’ menu are paired with a side salad. You can also substitute fries for the veggie of the day.
Food allergy concerns Several dishes are available as Gluten Free.