An Italian restaurant in Peoria Heights continues to thrive 28-year after first opening its doors.
Paparazzi is only open in the evenings. Dinner at Paparazzi is a refined event.
Eric Shangraw is having a meal there with an old friend in this Week's You Gotta Eat.
The Paparazzi exterior is not impressive. They're out of the way and hard to find. They don't advertise! Owners Bruce Brown and Lisa Mancuso, husband and wife, can engage in such anti-marketing behavior, because they serve some of the grandest food around.
"You have people that are telling other people that's the place to go," said Mancuso. "And it is cheap. But you know it is always good publicity. It is the best kind of publicity you can get when one person is telling another person," she said.
Lisa works the front of the house. Bruce is an ex-marine back in the kitchen. His culinary training came from the school of hard knocks trial and error. It is a formula which lead their little place to near perfection.
"When you come in here, this is like a place from the 40's," said Brown. "This is a place where things are made one-by-one. Where attention is paid not only to the food but to the customer," he said.
Because this is my last on-camera meal, after 15-years of You Gotta Eat, I invited my original eating partner Don Washburn along.
We started with a zucchini appetizer. The "zuc" is shredded and cooked quickly in a bit of butter and seasoned with salt, pepper and fresh chives. Don't try replicating the technique at home if you have an electric stove. Your zucchini will turn to mush. (You need high heat.)
Dubbs had the Linguine with tomato sauce, sausage, and green peppers. Nicely prepared. I had the Veal Piccata. The thin slices of veal are sauteed with lemon, parsley and capers. Served with some pasta on the side. It is a dynamite dish!
We saw Mac down at the other end of the restaurant having Veal & Saltimbocca; veal served with an Italian ham and sage. We invited the Anchorman down for dessert. Mac is taking over this restaurant review as I leave the television business. We did a ceremonial passing of the fork. But I needed it back to finish my Rumcake with cream filling. Dubbs had Chocolate Mousse with a raspberry puree. It is a top choice for Paparazzi fans.
We picked up Mac's tab as well. The bill for our trio with drinks, $69.75 plus tip. Paparazzi is the perfect place for a celebration and life transition.
Paparazzi is open Tuesday through Saturday starting at 5:30. Call ahead for reservations. Seating is limited.
Mac, eat well my friend! -Being the stations food critic is a really good gig.
Paparazzi Ristorante Italiano
Hours: Tuesday-Saturday 5:30-9pm
(call ahead for reservations)