@PaeseRistorante #PaeseMeatballArt

Posted on June 6, 2013


One of the best things I have eaten during the Street Food Block Party – Cinco de Mayo TUM/FoodTruckEats was Paese Ristorante’s Arancini.  That day, I have lined up twice just to enjoy it.  This was the reason when I received an invitation from Paese Ristorante to try their Late Night Ball Menu, it didn’t take too much arm twisting.  I knew that the food was good coming from the kitchens of Paese.  The theme of the night was all about meatballs.  It happens to be one of the things I always make myself  in my kitchen too.  So it wasn’t too surprising how much I looked forward to the #PaeseMeatballArt event.

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The restaurant was not hard to reach using the TTC.  Walking towards the restaurant at King, it was a hop and skip from the last stop of the Spadina streetcar.  When I walked in, about 5 minutes late, I saw that the party has already started and there were a few familiar faces of bloggers I follow.  Meeting Suzanne, she led me to a table at the back of the restaurant.  As I followed her, I saw the elaborate Ceasar drink topped with a plump meatball and pickle.  Ah, it does look gigantic as the picture they have sent me on the email.

While the front of the house showcased a vibrant mood, massive bar, few banquet-styled tables, the back was more cozy. More intimate with its banquet seating, big and small party tables and directional cozy lighting greeted me as I walked past that dividing wall between the front and back.  As the restaurant was still open, I saw that there was some patrons curious about what was going on.  Several tables with diners with Paese Meatball bibs would sure make me curious myself if I was not a participant.  Not long after I took my seat, Suzanne came back gave me a glass of Proseco to start.  I then saw Chef Palik come out with a tray of meatball and started handing it one by one to the bigger table across me.

Chef Palik then swung by my table and gave me my first treat of the night.  Hand-made falafel balls, made of chickpeas and fava beans topped with pickled cucumber, cured tomatoes and sitting on green creamy sauce.  The was a burst of flavor of spice and tartness when I first bit into it.  I just recently became a fan of falafel and this particular one was a delight even to a shamelesss carnivore like I am.  I haven’t finished the falafel and I was later handed a Veal Meatball.  Made up of ground veal, pork, ricotta and sweet peas and a sweet onion braised in milk adorned its side, I think this was my favorite of the night.  This might not be the most popular choice of the people who tried it but its flavors matched my recipe.  Savory and juicy with fleeting taste of pecorino cheese on the tail end, how can you complain?  This particular meatball I finished to the tail end.  After the last morsel, I recalled that I half-regretted giving in to temptation.  Looking at the very long tasting menu, I might have set myself up to overeat once again. Guilt have set in for sure.

That tasty treat was then followed by a Pepperoni Arancini Ball.  When I saw it coming and I heard Chef Palik talk about it with the diners from the other table, I was so giddy with anticipation.  Remember my favorite from a past food event?  When Chef Palik came by my table to hand me my arancini, I asked if it were the same recipe as the one that they have made last year.  He told me it was almost the same, this one has the addition of pepperoni and smoked mozarella inside.  I must say that nugget of smoked mozarella added another layer of taste that made me savor the arancini ball all the more.

Coming relatively the same time was Paese’s Original Meatball recipe.  One came in a little platter and the other came adorned on top a Caesar cocktail.  As I was trying to negotiate trying the meatball and the Caesar cocktail, Suzanne came by and asked if I wanted to try out their meatball photo booth.  She told me to just bring my meatball towards the front of the restaurant and after selecting a frame and a background, I got my meatball portrait.  I came back to my table and enjoyed the Caesar cocktail some more.  I overheard from the table right beside me that it was a good idea for a “hangover cure”.  I tend to agree.

Suzanne told me to watch out for the Chicken Wings Meatballs.  She told me it was her favorite out of all the meatballs featured on the menu.  When a server handed me one to sample, she told me that she was handing out seconds on other tables.  She said it turned out to be the crowd favorite.  Testing mine, it was indeed a tasty ball sitting on earthy gorgonzola sauce.  Everything that you might expect savoring chicken wings, rich,  juicy and earthy.

After the Chicken Wings Meatball, I was already starting to feel too full.  I checked out my list and it turned out there were two more,  Balls on Buns and Meatball Margherita.  Balls on Buns was like a mini slider.  Once again, a very generous, juicy meatball sat in front of me.  I commend Paese to make everything from scratch.  Those brioche mini buns was so well made I actually finished all the bread.  A few minutes later, I saw servers came out with trays of pizzas with a big meatball in the middle.  They placed one on the table right beside me and the server who I learned was also one of the cooks, was telling us to slice the meatball in small pieces to top off each slice.  Made a lot of sense to me. This would be a good sharing plate between friends going for late snacks and drinks.

Before we ended the night, Chef Palik sat with us to tell us more about Paese and the philosophy of its food.  From his responses and his obvious enthusiasm, one cannot miss how passionate he was about the food that they serve and how serious they were in ensuring that their restaurants give that quality of service that would keep patrons coming back.  I don’t think I would ever get tired of listening to someone who obviously love what they do.  It was inspiring to me to see it.

Finishing the night, I sat there contented and way beyond full.  Thank you Chef Palik and Suzanne for the invitation.  Just like the food event a year ago, I leave with a sense of satisfaction. That was really some wicked the meatball feast, celebrating #PaeseMeatballArt!

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