Way back in 1991, a small restaurant called Pizzeria Paradiso opened up on P St in the Dupont Circle neighborhood, and quickly made a name for itself. Featuring wood-fire baked, Neapolitan style pizzas of unusual quality, the pizzeria soon outgrew its meager floorspace, and so was born Paradiso 2 in upper Georgetown. With continued acclaim, and the addition of one of the city's finest beer programs, business kept rolling in, and soon little Paradiso 1 just couldn't handle the crunch. So, after a year's construction and the usual cadre of setbacks, please welcome the new Paradiso, which opened up last Saturday in a custom-built space right up the road from the original. I wandered over around 8:00 that night to meet some friends and scope things out.
Those familiar with the Georgetown Pizzeria Paradiso will feel instantly at home in the new space. Clearly designed with a similar mindset, the new space is all exposed brick, cream-colored walls with wood accents,and big windows -- even those cute, rustic pizza-pie sculptures aligning it's sister's basement feature here along the bar partition. The space appears to seat about 75+, and will accommodate another 24 once the large, seasonally-heated patio is opened later this month. The bar is a good deal larger than either of it's predecessors, and will seat a 15 or so in relative comfort.
Opening night was packed: over the course of my two hours there, I saw many a party turned away at the door, which is both encouraging and not surprising given Paradiso's cache. As I had other things to attend to (binge drinking is "other things;" don't judge), I did not sample the food that night -- that said, rest assured that if you love Paradiso's formula of thin, chewy crust, fresh mozzarella cheese and myriad meat and veggie toppings, it does not appear that you will be disappointed. If my nose and eyes are any judge, the food at the new Paradiso is exactly what you might find at the other locations. If you are at all concerned, grab a table in back, and watch your pizza being flipped, topped and baked in the restaurant's open kitchen.
Of course, no offense to the pizza, but to me, Paradiso is all about the beer. As previously stated, Paradiso has one of best beer programs in town, featuring an eclectic, well-document collection of brews from every style available. In addition to an extensive bottle list, the new Paradiso has 11 draughts, one of which, like the flagship bar, is dedicated to cask-conditioned "real ales." Though lacking your macros like Miller and Bud, a Paradiso list is never wanting for diversity, so lovers of any style are bound to leave satisfied. That night, I had the good fortune to sample (amongst others) the Brouwerij Bockor Cuvee Des Jacobins Rouge ($8), a Belgian Flanders red ale whose acquaintance I had not yet made. My friend Tim described it as "SOOO Good," so I chanced it, and he was right. The Jacobin is a full-bodied, heavily cherry accented beer, with a complicated nose of sour cherry, wheat, and spices, and a pleasantly dry finish; thank God for it's reasonable 5.5% abv, as I drank two in absolutely no time. In recognition of the bar's opening, beer-guru Greg Jasgar has created a couple of unique, beer-centric cocktails. I tried the Cosmoplambic ($10), a unique blend of vodka, lime juice, Grand Marnier, and raspberry lambic that really hit the spot, and pretty much put a bullet in any of my plans to drive home.
For burgeoning beer lovers and snobs alike, the GT Paradiso has one of the best happy hours in town, featuring half-priced draughts from 5-7 PM on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. The best news in all of this is that the new Paradiso will offer the same deal, albeit with a different selection, and a lot more standing room. If frantic crowds of sweaty beer nerds have kept you away in the past, make a point of checking out the new Paradiso's happy hour before they catch on! Alternatively, to you regulars out there, check out the new space for an airier, more Metro-accessible dose of what you've come to love and crave.
2003 P St. NW