Saturday, October 10, 2015Partly Cloudy 7°C


Posted by Libby Roach / Reviewed on May 30, 2015 / review policy

Paisanos TorontoPaisano's has been slinging sauce and flipping pies since just before the last Stanley Cup Parade passed through our city, first opening in the tony Bayview Village mall before shifting west and setting up shop at Sheppard and Willowdale, in 2000.

This under the radar restaurant has seen ownership change hands a few times in those five decades, but the overall focus and core menu hasn't budged since the move 15 years ago. First only occupying the corner, they quickly sprawled into the adjacent auto mechanic spot next door, creating two distinct spaces that even though they underwent a few renovations, still feels like divided dining rooms.

Paisanos TorontoNo one can dispute that 50 years is an achievement for just about anything, but owning a restaurant in Toronto for that long is almost unheard of. Front of house spokesman Jesse Grespan attributes Paisano's success to honest, good, hard work and creating loyal customers that treat this space like an Italian version of Cheers.

Most of the lunch time crowds are regulars from neighbouring office towers, and the busy dinner rush is mostly families, some of whom look like they may have been around when they first opened 50 years ago.

Sauces and pizza doughs are all made in house, as are two of their seven desserts (the Tiramisu and Crème Brulee), but fresh pastas are left to the pros and brought in daily. The giant menu sticks to mostly Italian roots, with a decent selection of vegetarian and gluten free pastas to round things out.

Paisanos TorontoBranching out from the usual Caprese salad, the Small Portabella Salad ($7) brings warm mushrooms, sautéed onions and chunks of feta together for an earthy dose of veggies. Bit of a shame that the mighty mushroom was chopped up and unrecognizable, and goat cheese would have been a better partner than funky feta.

Paisanos TorontoOnly available on the lunch menu is the Veal Sandwich ($12). A paltry veal portion is beaten into submission and properly tender, but missing the multiple layers of meat required to make this sandwich worth the caloric intake- like the much better (and cheaper) version at California Sandwiches.

Lasagna ($13) is a safe bet, with layers of pasta, ground beef, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses all nestled into a giant platter and smothered with sweet tomato sauce. Make sure to up the cheese factor with tableside parm and a heavy hit of fresh ground pepper.

Paisanos TorontoChicken Carbonara ($16) is a standout. A generous chicken breast comes tossed in a bacon studded cream sauce, resting on al dente spaghetti. More parm and pepper bring balance to the rich creamy alfredo-esque sauce.

Paisanos TorontoPizzas at Paisano's aren't cooked in a fancy oven; here gas does the trick pretty well. There are 12 pies on offer, but don't be shy to go off the set list and create your own with over 30 toppings to choose from. The standard Pepperoni ($12) sufficed, and came out blistering hot and bubbled up in all the right places, with enough pepperoni to sate even the meatiest of carnivores.

Paisanos TorontoA full bar menu helped quaff back all the carbs, with both Creemore and Steamwhistle ($7) on tap. Wines come by the glug glug litre, half litre, bottle, or glass with most vintages coming in from Italy and Australia.

Paisano's is fully wheelchair accessible and offers takeout and delivery.

Paisanos Toronto



tony / May 30, 2015 at 04:49 pm
is this the paisanos from seinfeld?
Looks good. / May 30, 2015 at 11:09 pm
Seems like good, honest food for a change --- not rustic fusion whatever.
Jesse / May 30, 2015 at 11:52 pm
Been here many times, good quality food, nice cold pints.
JC / May 31, 2015 at 09:16 am
Kinda cool they've been able to make a go of it for that long. Not really my thing, but certainly I can see doing the American-Italian thing *well* can keep people coming back. Every once and a while I do crave an old school spaghetti and meat balls, I should try it out. Still, having a *real* pie from Libretto's or Defino's is another world. That ain't fusion, that's just serious quality.
TJ / June 1, 2015 at 08:51 am
I've been here a couple of times recently and both times, I thought this place really reminds me of simplistic homemade Italian food at restaurant prices. Their pasta and sauces, to be honest, reminds me of store bought tomato or alfredo sauces. Considering that, I thought it was a bit expensive, since I went for dinner both times. The pizza was also ok, nothing special; really reminds me of Domino's pizza. The patio is pretty nice though.
K / June 2, 2015 at 12:05 pm
Chicken carbonara is absolutely delicious!
Food Diva / June 4, 2015 at 10:05 am
Went to Paisano for the first time. Service by red haired waitor was good. Margarita pizza was fine, wasn't the best or worse but ceasar salad was terrible with about 6 croutons that came from a box with little dressing and no bacon bits or cheese on top. looked nothing like the photo in this article. Hawaiian pizza wasn't bad nor great. Meal didn't have any components that were great. ...wouldn't go out of my way to return.
K / June 4, 2015 at 11:34 am
So good!!!
Went there to celebrate a birthday recently, brought the whole family with all of our dietary restrictions in tow.
Everyone was accommodated, they even let us bring our own cake!
The food was really delicious, fresh and flavourful. The portions were huge, everyone had lunch for the next day.

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