Our adventure at Great Wolf Lodge didn’t actually start until Saturday night, but we thought we’d make the most of the long weekend we had planned and drive to Traverse City on Friday. I hopped on Priceline and found a great deal on the Comfort Inn on US-31 just east of downtown. The hotel had a pool so L could get an early start on swimming and it was close to downtown so we’d have something nearby for dinner.
I took L down to the pool for a while and asked J if she would order a pizza. We timed it so J called would call in about ten minutes before L and I were supposed to be back.
Now the question, how to find a good local pizza place in a new city? I could have done my homework but everything I pulled up was just chains. I knew there had to be something nearby that was good. Luckily, I noticed a flyer on the check-in desk for a pizza place, so I grabbed it and told J just to call that place. Even better, it had a $3 coupon on the back of it.
Paesano’s Pizza is a little family owned pizzeria just at the entrance to Downtown Traverse City from the east on Front Street. They’ve been around almost forty years now after opening in the same building they’re still in today in 1981.
We’re kind of creatures of habit when it comes to ordering pizza. Large pepperoni and cheese sticks. Paesano’s calls the cheese sticks Paesano Bread. We got an order of them and a 16″ hand tossed pepperoni pizza. They also offer Deep Dish and Chicago-Style pizzas, but no thin crust.
J was told it would take about a half hour which is expected on a busy Friday night. I got L back to the room and got changed then headed out to pick up dinner. The restaurant was a about a five minute drive from our hotel. When I noticed I was getting close on my mapping app, I just found an open meter along Front Street and walked the rest of the way. I didn’t know if I’d be able to find anything closer and everyone was getting hungry so I didn’t have a lot of time to waste.
Walking through the door, you run right in to an order counter. Regardless of whether you’re picking up or dining in, you start here. They don’t have table service so you order you’re pizza then go sit down in a dining room that’s just around the corner. The restaurant is one of those places that hasn’t updated much since they opened. It’s a classic 80’s pizzeria with a color scheme based on the colors of the Italian flag.
A lady came out of the kitchen not long after I walked in and asked if I had already placed an order. I gave her my name and she went to find the two boxes in the kitchen. The cost of the pizza and Paesano Bread came out to just under $25 with the three dollar off coupon from the flyer I found at the hotel.
I got a little lost with all the one way streets and construction in downtown Traverse City on my way back to the Comfort Inn, but my family was waiting for me when I did. I actually remembered to ask for plates and silverware, so we started cutting up pizza for the kids before J and I dove in ourselves.
The pizza is described as “Simply classic, not too thin, not too thick, just right” which is pretty accurate. It’s pretty common to the big name carry-out places to have crusts like this. It doesn’t really stand out and just kind of blends in to the delivery landscape. The pizza was still quite tasty. The sauce had a little bit of a spicy and sweet kick to it which really carried this pie.
While we were kind of indifferent to the pizza, the Paesano Bread was something we all kind of fought over. They take a 10″ pizza dough and cover it with a blend of cheddar and mozzarella and brush the edges with garlic butter and Parmesan cheese. The use of cheddar cheese is what makes this cheese bread stand out. A lot of places stick to white, Italian cheeses, but using the cheddar gave the bread a little bit more flavor. It came with marinara sauce for dipping, but we didn’t even open it. The bread didn’t need it.
Paesano’s Pizza is a strong local pizza joint. Their pizza didn’t stand out to me, but both J and I tend to prefer thin crust pizzas. I enjoyed the pizza and would order it again if we were in Traverse City. While it’s similar to something like Papa John’s, it does have more flavor…and it’s local, so it will always get my support over the corporate pizza joints.