The newest addition to the Paisano’s family rests in West Ashley at the former Athens Pizza Express on Ashley River Road.
If you go
What: Paisano’s Pizza GrillWhere: 1798 Ashley River Road, West Ashley; 1246 Camp Road, James IslandHours: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Monday-Sunday in West Ashley; 11 a.m.-midnight Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-3 a.m. Friday-Saturday on James IslandFor more: www.paisanosji.com or 818-4969 for West Ashley and 762-1135 for James Island
It’s an orderly, clean venue, highlighted by dark woods and family photos. Obviously, the decor is in abidance with the Paisano’s mantra, as the rough translation of the restaurant’s name is pal or friend.
So naturally, it remains a terrific place for paisanos to enjoy a sandwich, an original, deep-dish “Fat Boy” pizza or even a late-night pie at the James Island location.
The restaurant’s origins are tied to Gilroy’s, as Paisano’s replaced the James Island pizza parlor in 2009, with the West Ashley location joining about a month ago. But in terms of quality and taste, Paisano’s surpasses its predecessor.
Paisano’s pizzas ($6.99-$16.99) are bright, warm and handily fashioned, reveling in options such as the Rocky Balboa with thinly shaved steak, green peppers and onions; the Flavor Country, so noted because of its olive oil base and chicken, basil and garlic toppings; the Ranchzilla featuring a cilantro, jalapeno and Ranch base; or the Chicken Parm with fried chicken and extra cheese.
But my go-to, or even to-go, order doesn’t include any of the above mentioned.
Rather, it’s the meatball parm ($7.99), built on crunchy, toasty bread and filled with warm, sweet marinara and bite-size chunks of meatballs.
Add a side salad ($3.99), which isn’t really a side salad at all. It’s much larger and teeming with thinly sliced mozzarella.
If you’re feeling particularly ambitious, go instead with the N.Y. chopped salad ($6.99).
Otherwise, the menu is rife with dry-rubbed or sauced wings, calzones and a steady collection of sandwiches, pleasing for paisanos for all shapes and ages.