We discovered this wonderful gourmet cafe, deli, and wine market called il Paesano about five minutes from our home on East Oakland Blvd in Fort Lauderdale. It’s on the north side of Oakland Park Boulevard which I pass by several times daily but I passed it by for months without noticing it until my husband suggested that we stop one day.
il Paesano is a cafe in the classical sense of the term; not a restaurant. It’s also very thoroughly Italian, so much so that I wouldn’t know the difference between eating here or in Italy. It’s a family run business that not only serves fresh authentic Italian meals, but alway sells delicious products, mostly imported from Italy.
Besides having a display case of daily food offerings, they also have a blackboard of daily specials, generally consisting of Panini Sandwiches. The menu changes daily and the food is made fresh daily.
We ordered the Italia Panini with prosciutto de parma, fresh buffalo mozzarella, homemade pesto, tomatoes and extra virgin olive oil. As we waiting for our paninis to be prepared, they bought us a plate of olives and assorted cheeses and cured meats.
My Italia was delicious, prepared with Italian panni bread, and was true in every detail to those I’ve had in Italy. And, the simple small dining arrangements also held true to the cafes of Italy.
We enjoyed our lunch so much that we went back again for dinner. This time I went for the eggplant lasagne, and a salad of fresh arugula, buffalo mozzarella with slides of prosciutto. My husband had their gnocchi, which I tasted and it too was delicious. The owners Vergilio and Paola are incredibly friendly and happy to accommodate. It’s more like being a guest in someone’s house than being in a commercial restaurant.
We were stuffed but couldn’t resist ordering one of their Italian desserts on display. The Nutella cake was scrumptious.
As both a cafe and market, il Paesano has a vast selection of Italian wines, cheeses, sausages, pastas and other food products.
The Italian wine selection is fantastic and you take it off the rack. The wine cellar area is also used for private dinners, and can seat up to six adults.
iL Paesano hosts wine tasting classes for beginners. It’s a fun way to spend a few hours and tasting a selection of 5 wines, paired with food to accompanying the wine. Space is limited to 15 persons per class.