Mac and Cheese Madness: Paesan Kitchen & Bar

By Ron Swarner on May 2, 2014

It's Friday, which means I tempt you with another South Sound mac and cheese dish I believe is worthy of the Tournament of Mac and Cheese next spring. Of course, you, the reader, will ultimately decided the fate of the dish when nominations open in February 2015.

First, a touch of mac and cheese history. Thomas Jefferson helped make macaroni and cheese popular in the United States after sampling it in Italy. He brought home a pasta maker and introduced the dish in 1802. Mac and cheese is obviously the food of presidents, for it was also Ronald Reagan's favorite. Reagan enjoyed a little dry mustard and Worcestershire in his mac and cheese.

OK, on to this week's mac and cheese suggestion. ...

Paesan Kitchen & Bar serves a delicious, gooey baked penne pasta ($9) that had me gazing out its floor to ceiling windows, weighing the options of ordering another serving of the dish.

It's that good.

Fontina cheese is the star ingredient, although the leeks, egg, mustard, chile flakes, grated Parmesan and breadcrumbs would tell you different, if they could.

It's baked, which is an important and defining factor for what makes a fine mac and cheese, and the best selling point for Paesan's version. Baking it gives mac - or, in this case, penne - and cheese the yummy, crusty-crunchy bits of dairy goodness on the ends of the noodles, which prevents this dish from becoming a gooey mess.

Try it and let me know what you think.

Also, Paesan will be celebrating May the 4th Be With You.

PAESAN KITCHEN & BAR, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 8 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, 1715 Dock St., Tacoma, 253.301.2396