Saturday, December 09, 2006

italian: MR. PACO

No. 23, Alley 4, Lane 345, Ren Ai Rd, Sec 4
(02) 8771-3102


date visited: 11/13/2006

Mr. Paco might sound like a dive that serves Mexican food, but actually it's a quaint comfortable restaurant that serves Italian fare such as pizza, risotto, pasta, salads and desserts. My friend works near here and raved about it to me more than once. After a long day, we thought we'd have an early dinner around 5:30pm or so. The space was really cute and bisto-ish, with burnt orange walls and candles on each table that would be great for a romantic date or a lively dinner out with friends and family. It was unusually quiet because we were there off-peak- she said it's sometimes hard to get a table during their rush hours.

beating the dinner rush

She told me that she usually ordered pizza and pasta, and was happy to try some new things that looked appealing to me from the menu which was in English and Chinese. The menu had a pretty wide selection of antipasta, salads, pastas, pizzas, and main dishes like risottos, paella and kebabs. We chose to split a chicken asparagus mushroom salad, steamed mussels with white wine and sundried tomato and prosciutto risotto.

To my surprise, the salad we ordered wasn't really a salad- more like a stir-fry with four leaves of lettuce, and nothing in the menu listed it as a hot salad. The flavor was not bad- with a bit tart with balsamic vinegar flavor which was soaked up by the chicken and mushroom, but not the asapargus. It was also very peppery and a bit watery.

chicken, asparagus and mushroom salad?

On the menu, you can choose from many different sauces for the mussels- including white wine, sundried tomatoes, pesto, garlic- and the waitress suggested the popular white wine. When the order came, the mussels were smaller than I expected- they looked sort of shrunken and not as big as their shells. Though there seemed to be lots of onions and garlic, the flavor was a bit bland. It was a bit disappointing compared to really great steamed mussels I've had at other Italian eateries (such as Grappa's in Hong Kong. mmm)

steamed mussels with white wine

But the risotto hit the spot. It was creamy, hot and flavorful. Although I have to note, there was no cheese- only a few of their risottos have cheese.

sundried tomato and prosciutto risotto

Perhaps it was my own fault for try to explore the items off the beaten path of popularity for this restaurant- or maybe my tastebuds were different from my Taiwanese friend. I will go back and try the pastas and pizzas someday, but I suppose at any restaurant you are going to strongly recommend to a friend- you want anything off the menu you order to amaze your tastebuds- so you won't know if you always stick to your favorites. But with a menu this large, maybe there will be a few misses before we hit the jackpot.


Jean said...

at this place called musha in torrance they have this cheese risotto that's sooooo cheesy - they even serve it in a giant block of cheese!

Chubbypanda said...

Wow. I would never thought of trying Italian food in Taiwan. Very adventurous. It looks like their offerings have been heavily adapted for the Taiwanese palate.

- Chubbypanda

Michael Turton said...

Nice blog, lots of great pics. I think you should add the Taiwan tag to your posts; they'd get more play that way.


joanh said...

jean: we will have to try that place soon.. sounds good!

chubbypanda: yeah there is actually a TON of Italian places here- Taiwanese palate, japanese twist, then you have Macaroni Grill. hahahha

michael: thanks for visiting and for the tip! i used the tags to organize for myself, but it's a great idea.

Eugene said...

Hi, I went to Mr. Paco's after reading your review and we tried the pizza and pasta. The "pepperoni" pizza was standard European-style (thin crust) but with lots of extra ingredients, while the margherita pasta was above average , with plenty of seafood and a solid (but not strong) taste. It's not the best Italian food I've ever had but it was much better than I expected from Taiwan.