I found out about Paesan Kitchen & Bar at a meeting of the Tacoma Executives Association of Tacoma. We had a trade show planning meeting at the Neil Walter Company conference room. Debbie Gallinatti ordered pizzas from Paesan to fortify our discussion. I fell in love with their Pancetta & Pear pizza. I took a slice home to Peg. Within a couple of days we were dining at Paesan.
The restaurant is located on Dock Street between Johnny's Bistro and the Glass Museum. There is no signage so you have to guess the first time you come. It's occupies the northwest corner of the condo building. The decor is sparse, but the staff is friendly and helpful.
When you walk into the restaurant your view is of the back end of their wood-fired oven. The looks don't improve much. The interior is pretty much industrial and the view from the street side windows is the Tacoma Spur, which connects I-5 with downtown Tacoma, and the waterfront along Ruston Way. The food makes up for everything. I love wood-fired ovens for pizza. We haven't had a chance to watch them make pizza at Paesan, but Peg and I have sat and been entertained in Seattle with hand throwing the dough, spreading the sauce, and adding ingredients. Of course we may be easily entertained. The aroma may help along with the knowledge that you'll be served the food that has been making your drool keeps you on the edge of your seat.
For four dollars you can't beat the rustic bread. It's crusted up nicely at the front of the wood-fired oven . . . right after you order it. The bread is cut thick, buttered and delivered with a small bowl of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Personally, I always ask for butter, too. I alternate bites. Dipped in the dressing and with a little butter.
We've always had bread left-over . . . but not thrown away. We take it home and usually use it for dunking in broth or soup the next day for breakfast or lunch. I order the bread every, single time I visit the place. I may order some right after this review is done.
Peg and I usually share the Pear Gorgonzola Salad, which comes with a nice mixture of greens, lemon juice, sea salt and a balsamic vinegar reduction. Peg had an issue with the ripeness of the pear on our last visit, but I liked the tartness and crunch. They don't spare the cheese, either.
I'm prone to ordering my favorite dishes time and time again. I've never found anything I didn't like at Paesan's. The baked oyster were good, but are not a favorite. There are plenty of other, fairly priced offerings I willing to try, but my favorites do keep calling to me.
The steamed clams are a must. If they begin offering steamed mussels I might shift my order, but in the mean time I'll stick with the clams. There are plenty to share. With colorful veggies and excellent broth I could live on this.
They say that man does not live by bread alone, and these clams might be what the author of that statement had in mind. The hunks of bread are made for soaking and swabbing and tickling the tongue. Luckily, Peg doesn't eat that much, but just two huge hunks get me through the meal . . . perhaps it was just one and a half (plus another slice comes with the meal). I should really order more bread. It's not like it will go to waste.
Friendly staff, great food, and a view of the Tacoma Spur make Paesan a great place to go for a snack, lunch or dinner. They even serve breakfast! Their biscuits and Italian sausage gravy keeps calling to me.