Diane Lane gave us a glimpse into the romance of Tuscany in the 2003 movie "Under the Tuscan Sun." If you are a fan of the film, Diane Lane or quality Italian cuisine served in comfortable surroundings, Paisano's may be a practical substitute for a trip to the Mediterranean.
Once you walk through the doors of the restaurant, the casino is long gone. You have entered a charming Italian village. Extravagant chandeliers that look like large yellow gourds descend from the ceiling. Large windows covered with wooden shutters are scattered across the brick walls. Vaulted ceilings and an open floor plan give the feeling of spaciousness.
From the greeting when you walk in the door to when your bill is paid, the service is attentive and friendly. Once seated at the table, a basket of warm olive bread is brought to the table; it is served with olive oil and vinegar.
While perusing the extensive menu, diners can enjoy a glass of wine. The wine list encompasses many styles of wine and many Italian varietals that will pair well with the cuisine.
The menu offers dishes from many of the regions in Italy. We started our culinary tour with a traditional Vine Ripened Caprese Salad. This salad is layered across a long plate with Mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, aged balsamic vinegar and extra virgin olive oil.
The pizza is prepared with a thin crust in the fire burning oven. They offer the traditional Margherita Pizza and Pepperoni Pizza. And for those feeling a little more adventurous, there is the Italian Meat Lovers with pepperoni, sausage, prosciutto and meatball.
As any self-respecting Italian restaurant should have, the pasta selection is extensive. Simple dishes such as spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna, or rigatoni and bolognese are offered. Or more complex dishes such as Risotto with spinach and white truffle oil or Sweet Italian Sausage Fusilli with roasted peppers and sage pesto are available. And for visitors who are looking to be a little more health-conscious, wheat pasta is available upon request.
Although we ordered the Grilled Pork Chop with asparagus and garlic mashed potatoes, there are more traditional entrees offered. Chicken parmesan, eggplant parmesan, shrimp scampi and veal Marsala are just some of the Italian savory courses available.
Another interesting feature of the restaurant is the open kitchen that allows a guest to view every step of the meal-making process: The garde manger preparing the caprese salad. The pizza being tossed and baked in the fire burning oven. The head chef administering the finishing touches on the entrees.
For a trip to Italia - without that annoying trans-Atlantic flight, give Paisano's a try.
Paisano's Italian, Pechanga
Where: 45000 Pechanga Parkway, Temecula
Hours: Sunday-Tuesday 5-10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 5-11 p.m.
Beverages: Extensive wine list
Information: 877-711-2win, www.pechanga.com