Happy Hour – Pizzeria Paradiso

I’ve been going to this place for about 25 years.  You know that slightly out of the way “go to” pizza place you have in the back of your mind?  A place you’d drive almost an hour to? Pizzeria Paradiso is that place for me.   Once in a while, while we’ll still pile in the car, and fight DC traffic an unforgettable pie, and a chance to sit in that intoxicating mix of  people, music, and aromas.

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Real Pizza Discovery

It don’t read many magazines, but I will go out of my way to buy Washingtonian’s Best Eats,  the Cheap Eats, and the Dirt Cheap eats issues.  Occasionally a restaurant will make it to the top of all  three issues. That is how I discovered this place.  It was really the first on the scene to serve artisanal pizza in the Washington DC area. Paradiso was originally one of those hole in the wall places, which had only 6-8 tables, and a daily line out the door for half a block, with it’s melange of foodies trading their thoughts on this deliceous pizza.  They have grown to 3-4 area locations, and introduced the first Birraria to DC.

Recently, Pizzeria Paradiso has been crowded out of these listings, as there has been an explosion of artisanal pizza places recently.  But this remains my favorite due to the exceptional pizza, rare on tap beers, and the general atmosphere. But this is a crime to the pizza buying humanity.  This is the standard setter for DC artisan pizza.

Upon sitting down, you’ll be immediately greeted by a finger bowl of herbed of mixed olives. This is a custom Paradiso mix, briny and oiled to perfection.  Each table has a permanent bottle of extra virgin olive oil, and sea salt, to dip their delicious crust in.  I often order their bread, which includes 3″ thick bread like Foccaccia for $2.00, baked in their wood oven.

Then to the pizzas.  I favor Atomica, with its salami. This salami is exceptional and on par with authenic Arthur Ave/New York City,  Sapprosate spicy salami. This is not your standard hormel mass produced salami.  The cheese isn’t the dry grated brand, but always Fiore Di Latte (e.g. fresh soft mozzerella).  The “sauce” isn’t a sauce at all. It is a kind of chopped / stewed tomato/oil/salt/herb mixutre, more tomato chunks than sauce.  The crust is the perfect balance of a semi-soft yeasty dough, crispy enough to not flop off the pizza ingredients.  And it is all charred to perfection in their wood burning oven.

Birreria

Several years ago, Paradiso introduced an exceptional beer place in the basement of their Georgetown location.  It is a great hang out, where you’ll see college students and professionals inter mingling for a great draft beer, and exceptional pizza.  I prefer sitting up stairs during spring, summer and fall, for for the winter, it is a warm caccoon of wood, pizza and beer, with the cold weather well out of site. It is an insider’s place, were a select group of pizza and beer foodies huddle.  Thank god that most people don’t know “Birreria” mean’s Beer, otherwise, we’d have the sport channel and wings crowd to contend with (Yes, I am part of that crowd sometimes, but not when really good pizza and beer is involved).

Although the pricing is reasonable for the beers provided (St. Bernardus Wit for $10), they become a steal at happy hour where every beer is $4.  My favorite thing to do when returning late from a trip is to stop by their Georgetown location, take a seat at the end of the bar, and set up shop.

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