The Occasional Joke

Nurse: Patient's name?

Centurion: Marcus Licinius Crassus

Nurse: And his date of birth?

Centurion: 115 BC.

Nurse: All right. And what is he here for?

Centurion: Cataphract surgery.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Changes at Paesano

After 12 years of feisty, not always very successful direction of the East Side's sole Italian restaurant, Isabella Nicoletti is leaving. Although Michael Roddy disses "red sauce Italian" in the article, I was always a bit disappointed with the lack of comfort food and reliable pasta quality -- if Isabella was in the kitchen, things were fine, but if not, dishes could come out cool, under done, and clearly mystifying to the help. She knew how she wanted it done, but didn't seem great at passing that along. When Chaad Thomas left as wine director, reasons to go seemed to decline. I make a better bolognese, for example, to my twisted taste, nor did Roman dishes ever make much of an appearance -- if you wanted alfredo, carbonora, or all'amatriciana, you were out of luck. Poultry was usually ok, if it was duck sauce, but chicken seemed to elude them. Red meat -- hit or miss.

I don't know David Whitney, the sous chef who is stepping into Isabella's clogs, but here's hoping he'll back off on the Veneto and expand just a bit south and west to take on Tuscany and Rome. (Tuscany: imagine getting a bowl of zuppa di farro with a dash of real Luccese olive oil on a December night. Can anyone even spell "farro" in Ann Arbor? Does anyone know where Lucca is?) It would be great to have a slightly less micro-ethno-centric place over here on the city wall.

All that slightly snarky stuff said, I always liked Isabella and her piquant attitude, and I hope she does well. Paesano and the Roddys are great supporters of the community and of good food. Here's hoping for an evolution, not a revolution.


  1. There's been a farro dish on the menu at Zingerman's Roadhouse for a year. I haven't tried it since I make no vegetarian requirements of my dining choices.

    "Farro Piccolo & Roasted Vegetables: Heirloom Farro berries served with roasted Cornman Farms vegetables, olive oil and Mezzo Secco cheese."

  2. Lucca, my friend, is about 1/2 hour's drive from Camaiore, the place from which my grandfather emigrated all those years ago!

  3. Lucca, my friend, is about 1/2 hour's drive from Camaiore, the town from which my grandfather emigrated all those years ago . . .

  4. So that would be one restaurant who serves farro and one person who knows Lucca. That's about what I figured.