Paesano - Gluten Free Philadelphia

It's a rare occurrence that I get my twin sister in town - so you can bet your bottom-dollar that I am going to cram as much as I possibly can into our visits.

While nothing could compare to our Friday night Kitchen Counter experience at Zahav (post coming soon), I figured the next best thing would be to take Mia and her boyfriend to the Italian Market. I mean, makes sense, where else would you take to Italians looking for some good Italian products?

While I have been very serious about trying to live a more vegan lifestyle - I put that whole thought process on hold this weekend and took advantage of such by stopping at Paesano's. Paesano's is one of the many famous Philadelphian spots. Paesano's has been featured on Anthony Bourdain's the Layover, Bobby Flay's Throwdown, etc. 

But the question is, do they really live up to all this hype? We all know there are plenty of "famous" spots in Philadelphia (or any location for that matter) but once we try them for ourselves, we walk away disappointed and confused as to whom could ever think so highly of this establishment?  

As I entered into Paesano's I was a bit intimidated by the "bread scene" so I walked right up to the counter and started interrogating the staff. Do you offer gluten free? Are there any restrictions? Any precautions taken on cross-contamination? What are famous for? What do you recommend? While I received answers to most of my questions, I felt confident enough to place a gluten free order - the real problem now was what to order? I went back to my company and asked what they thought they might order, and I honestly should have guessed it. Mia, I love her to death, is not a very adventurous eater -  so she went with her typical "safe choice"  the Zawzeech. Which is a sweet Italian sausage onions, peppers, and provolone. 

While I could tell almost immediately that Mia was not a fan of this Zawzeech - she was polite and ate half of the sub before rolling up the rest to go - which she will pawn off on someone else later. When I asked Mia what was wrong with the sandwich, I mean, it's a sausage sandwich, how can one go wrong? Mia responded, the sauce. It was not a typical red sauce. It was more of a mix between a red sauce and a barbecue wanna-be. 

Matt, another not so adventurous eater, but typically a bit more so than Mia chose the Tuna Italiana. I mean, really, who comes into Italian Market and selects, what I would consider to be, a boring Tuna sandwich. None other than these two - they have to ease there way into a new establishment - get comfortable with the food and then experiment. Which, let me be clear, there is nothing wrong with this way - I just like to be a bit more experimental with my food. 

Matt's verdict on the Tuna Italiana, eh- nothing special it was a tuna sandwich (which is what I just stated in the above paragraph - you came to the Italian Market and you ordered a tuna sandwich). He found it off that the olives where a layer to the sub rather than mixed in. He also found the lettuce to be a bit "weird" in taste. 

I was torn, I was informed they are famous for their Paesano (beef brisket) and the Arista (suckling pig) and I considered behaving myself a little bit and going for the vegetarian Giardina (eggplant) but then I saw the Gustaio (homemade lamb sausage). AH - what to choose the Arista or the Gustaio? Gustaio! 

The Gustaio came clearly marked GF and we even scored three seats at the table (which let me tell you, this seating situation could easily cause an all out brawl - I wonder just how many of these seat fights the employees of Paesano's have witnessed...). 

Moving on, what was my opinion on the Gustaio? The Gustaio comes with a sun-dried cherry mustarda, gorgonzola spread, roasted fennel and arugula. Let us just review those ingredients once more...

1. Lamb - if I am going to eat meat, lamb is on that list of must haves - so homemade lamb sausage, yes please!
2. Sun-dried Cherry Mustarda - sun-dried anything and I am a happy camper! For those of you who are not familiar with mustarda (and I hate to admit this but I was one of those people) it is an Italian condiment made of candied fruit and a mustard flavored syrup. 
3. Roasted Fennel - one of my newest "LOVES"
4. Arugula - we all need to add a little green to our lives! 

So clearly there are some high hopes here....

I unwrapped this sandwich, my first thought was not on the sandwich itself, but what was this glutenfree bread going to be like? Dry? Crumbly? Taste-less? As you can see, the bread looks amazing as well as the sandwich. In fact, I personally thought the glutenfree bread looked more appealing than the gluten version on the sandwiches around me. My first bite in and I got a rush of sweet yet a little spice. The sweet was coming from the mustarda and the spice was from the homemade sausage. 

This sandwich lived up to it's expectation in my opinion - but by my observation and the feedback from many other clients - I'm not sure every sandwich lives up to the fame that the food network as brought to Paesano's. So yes, you can make a couple mean sandwiches, but the others may need a bit of attention... Either way, thank you for a delicious lamb sandwich. 


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