Paisano’s praiseworthy

Brian Allen

A paisano, or Italian brother, will feel at home eating at Paisano’s Ristorante.

A fixture in Topeka since 1990, it is currently under the management of Steve and Debbie Butland. There is a location in Lawrence, but the one in Topeka is at Fleming Place on 10th and Gage. A full service Italian restaurant, you can call them at 785-273-0100 for reservations, take out, catering or banquets. Check out their mouth watering menu at

It is open everyday for lunch and dinner except for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The hours are Sunday through Thursday from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Friday and Saturday the hours are 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

The restaurant is ituated on a corner of the Fleming strip mall and has a stand alone feeling with a covered patio for al fresco dining. We visited early on a Friday evening and were seated immediately, but by the time we were done, there was a short wait. The decor had an Italian villa feel to it, formal enough for a nice date, casual enough for students in T-shirts. We saw romantic couples and families both enjoying themselves. Mercifully, the one infant present followed the Omerta code of silence.Our table fell under the portrait gaze of those three Italian icons: Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis, Jr.

Conversation flowed easily, with just a distant hint of piped in music. Candi, our server, was attentive to our needs and knowledgeable about the menu – she ably guided us toward selections that matched our palates.

They have a full bar and an extensive wine and cocktail selection. I tried the house wine, a Francis Ford Coppla 2008 Bianco Pinot Grigio. I’m no oenophiliac, but I did find it light, crisp and fruity, as advertised. My date had a Flirtini; Absolut, vanilla, chanbord with a splash of pineapple juice and sparkling wine. She found it to be quite tasty and became quite flirtatious. Both drinks were $7 each.

The salad was a generous Italian garden variety in oil and vinegar with garlic flavored breadsticks. Both were good within their genera. We ordered meals highlighted by the chef, Mike Platte. I tried the Pesce Seafood Florentine made of shrimp, longestinos and scallops, sautéed with broccoli, mushrooms and red peppers. Served in a spinach cream sauce over a bed of linguine for $16.99.

She ordered the Pepper and Gorgonzola, sliced tenderloin steak topped with cracked peppercorn and gorgonzola cream sauce. Served with fettuccini alfredo for $15.99.

Our wait seemed appropriate for what we ordered and our meals were delivered hot. My Seafood Florentine had more shrimp than longestino or scallops but I often find that food ratios follow costs. What I did have was properly cooked and delicious, the sauce and linguini were good enough to stand on their own.

My date enjoyed her Pepper and Gorgonzola, she found the cut of meat to be fair. If you want steak, go to a steak house. It was cooked medium rare and not overpowered by the hint of peppercorn. The gorgonzola sauce was delicious and the fettuccini alfredo classic.

The desert menu has many temptations but we felt obligated to keep it Italian and ordered a Canoli, a pastry shell stuffed with sweetened ricotta cheese, chocolate chips and topped with pistachios. It was decadently creamy and rich; we fought over the last bite. A must have at $4.99.

As my Italian sister-in-law insists, I finished the meal with a Paisano’s Cappuccino containing Kahlua, Frangelico and creme de cocoa for $7. I found it to be more a cocktail than a coffee and suspect my sister-in-law would say a good cappuccino can stand alone.

Overall I would say Paisano’s Ristorante has earned its’ many “Best Of” titles. A nice atmosphere, good staff, great menu choices and delicious food.