Paesano’s Pasta House owner Mike Patterson said the restaurant business has been in his blood since age 14. But it wasn’t always his life’s work.
“I did a lot of radio,” Patterson said. “I was in radio for 12 years.”
A job opportunity with a large communications company brought Patterson from New Jersey to Oxford. But after twelve years in the industry, Patterson had enough.
“I commuted to Cincinnati, and one day I came home from work and said, ‘I don’t like it,'” Patterson said.
According to Patterson, it was then he knew it was time to get back into restaurant business. In December 2003, Patterson bought the Uptown CafÃ©, now Patterson’s CafÃ©, in Stewart Square.
“I was a short order cook when I was 16, doing breakfast and lunch, which is what led me to Patterson’s,” he said.
“At the time we moved in, there was no Italian restaurant,” Patterson said, “The one big question you always come across is ‘Where’s a good Italian restaurant in town?’ We thought it was an opportunity.”
One year later, Patterson said, a golf game between he and two neighbors got the ball rolling.
“On the third hole, we got caught in a thunderstorm,” Patterson said. “I told them what I wanted to do: to open up an Italian restaurant. And they said, ‘We’re in.'”
Patterson bought the old Mary Jo’s Cuisine, at 308 S. Campus Ave., and got right to work.
“We rebuilt the whole place and opened it up in November 2004,” Patterson said. “I just wanted to call it ‘The Pasta House’.”
But friend and business partner, Pat Lanni, had a different idea, Patterson said.
Lanni suggested the restaurant be named ‘Paesano’s Pasta House,’ because paesano means friend or countryman in Italian. Patterson agreed.
Today, Paesano’s offers dozens of pasta selections, including a create-your-own option, for those who want to mix and match various pastas and sauces, Patterson said.
“It’s the best Italian food in Oxford. You can pick anything on the menu and you know it’ll be good,” said Miami sophomore Davis Staley.
As far as his choice for best item on the menu, Patterson shows no hesitation.
“I always say the alfredo sauce,” Patterson said. “We don’t just make a big, 10-gallon batch of alfredo. We make it to order every single time. It’s the perfect Alfredo sauce.”
Patterson acknowledges his reputation for having high standards.
“I think we’re probably perceived as difficult people to work for, because we want it right. There’s a reason we have lines: we do a good job,” said Patterson.
Paesano’s employee Drew Reuss knows these high standards make the customer’s experience all the better.
“Everybody’s trained, everybody knows what they’re doing. They’re really nice guys to work for,” Reuss said.
For Patterson, the best part about working in the restaurant business is seeing customers excited about his establishments.
“It’s a very gratifying effect to see that people actually want to come and eat at your restaurant,” Patterson said. “People line up to eat at Patterson’s; people line up to eat at Paesano’s. It’s very redeeming.”
Patterson is preparing to open Cru wine bar immediately next door to Patterson’s CafÃ© in Stewart Square. He said he is very excited to begin yet another culinary adventure in Oxford.
Paesano’s Pasta House is located at 308 South Campus Ave. and is open Tuesday through Thursday and Sundays from 5 to 9 p.m., and Friday through Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m.