Old Norcross is a picturesque historic village in North Atlanta that has special significance for me. It's where John proposed under a canopy of magnolia trees. It is also a little stretch of Americana in the middle of suburbia that transports you away from the rushing city. It is teeming with sprawling parks, regal fountains, old and new architecture faithful to the style of the late 1800s, boutiques, gift shops, and plenty of places to eat.
Paizanos is modeled after the traditional Italian eatery. Pizza pies are the specialty, but they include the obligatory pasta dishes on their menu. The location is small but comfortable, the bar is attractive and the service is excellent. It was just perfect for a family lunch on a laid-back Sunday afternoon.
There were nine of us at the table so there was quite a variety of dishes. I didn't take a bite off each person's plate so I can only describe my own, but everyone seemed satisfied with their choices.
We started on a great note. Their garlic rolls or "knots" came piled in a deep and ample bowl with a serving of marinara sauce on the side. They were meaty, lathered in garlic oil and bejeweled with chunky pieces of garlic that I didn't dislike, although some at the table mentioned they preferred their garlic minced rather than chopped.
A cheese pizza came for the two youths in our party and it garnered oohs and aahs from everyone. Even I found it attractive and fragrant in spite of my general indifference toward pizza. Some of the other items represented included lasagna, three different chicken presentations- Florentine, Parmigiana and Alfredo, all accompanied with a side of pasta. After quite a long stretch of lively conversation, a reverent silence came over the table broken only by satisfied sighs.
I ordered the Gnocchi Alfredo and there were no surprises. The sauce was a little thin but the flavor was solid. John ordered yet another chicken option, Marsala. He said it was 'standard'. Nothing different from what he's had a hundred times before.
In all honesty, the afternoon was more about family gathering together than having a gastronomic experience, and Paizanos is ideal for that purpose. You get what you expect from the popular menu items, plus those sinful bread knots. What more could you ask for?