Paisan’s Italian Restaurant has been a Madison favorite since 1950. The restaurant first opened in a small building on the corner of Park Street and University Avenue, and over the years it has done business in five locations. For some time, Paisan’s served up spicy Italian dishes in the cellar of its sister restaurant, Porta Bella.
Paisan’s was located in University Square for many years, and was known for its dark woodwork, open-air patio, fresh Italian bread, crisp Porta salad and delicious entrees. When University Square was demolished in 2006 to allow for an extensive revitalization, Paisan’s moved to its present location at 131 West Wilson Street. The restaurant now offers views of Lake Monona just off the Capitol Square.
The location may have changed, but the Paisan’s menu has remained true to tradition. Paisan’s still serves its signature Garibaldi sandwich, which has been a Badger favorite for decades. The head chef says the recipe is secret, but I can say that the Garibaldi features ham, salami, hot spicy cheese, sliced tomatoes and peppers on French bread.