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A Cozy Classic

When it’s cold outside, what’s better than Italian food? Amid all the openings and closings of restaurants that are supposedly “the next big thing,” one San Antonio establishment still remains as popular as the day it opened, more than 40 years ago.

Paesanos is nothing short of an institution among San Antonio locals. Joe Cosniac founded the restaurant in 1969 with friend and business partner Nick Pacelli. Cosniac, an Italian native, moved to Montreal in 1957, at the age of 11. The self-taught chef met Pacelli 10 years later. Upon moving to San Antonio in 1968, Cosniac ran into Pacelli again, and a year later Paesanos became a reality.

Originally housed in a quaint building on McCullough Avenue, the restaurant quickly became known throughout the city, particularly for its signature appetizer and namesake, the Shrimp Paesano. The dish features succulent shrimp in a lemon butter and garlic sauce, nestled on a bed of delicate, angel hair pasta.

Other delicious dishes include the seared sea bass, peppered filet mignon, stuffed shells with spicy sausage and frutti di mare with shrimp, scallops, mussels and lobster over fettucine. Paesanos’ pizzas provide a modern twist on the Italian classic.

Paesanos is also well-known for its handcrafted bread, a perfect opening to what is sure to be a decadent meal. Other noteworthy starters include the capresé, featuring house-made mozzarella cheese layered upon freshly sliced Roma tomatoes topped with basil and olive oil.

If the entrées aren’t enough to get rid of the winter chill, the desserts surely will be. The cappuccino pie is as delicious as it sounds, where as the amaretto crème brûlée is everything it should be—creamy, sweet and heavenly right down to the very last bite.