First off let me say that there are a lot of great pizza places in the DC Metropolitan area. You’ve got The Original Ledo Restaurant in College Park, Maryland serving up great rectangular-shaped cheesy goodness. There’s Ella’s near Chinatown in DC baking up Neapolitan style deliciousness. Even franchise restaurants like Flippin’ Pizza and Vapiano do pizza justice (It’s all in the dough). But, just having great pizza does not equate to a great dining experience. Here’s where Pizzeria Paradiso Birreria has dominated the game. Pizzeria Paradiso has three locations in the DC Metropolitan area. I recently visited their Dupont Circle location at 2003 P Street NW, Washington DC and was pleasantly surprised. Upon arrival my date and I noticed just how busy the restaurant was. One sign that the place has great food is that even on a Monday there was a wait. Once the restaurant pager given to us by the host began to flash we were whisked away to our seats. During the short walk from the front door to our table, I noticed a busy bar to the right of the entrance and something quite rare, a bar without tv’s. This intrigued me because it made me think about all of the bar talk that probably started out of a necessity for engagement. To me this was somewhat refreshing. We were seated by a cordial hostess who brought us to our table and within a couple of minutes were pleasantly greeted by our server. Initially I was going to stay away from beer for the evening, but after viewing their extensive beer menu, I – being the beer connoisseur – had to try their four 4 ounce samplers for $12. I ordered a sampler of Anchor Porter , DC Brau Time & Place, Mikkeller It’s Alive, and De Dochter van de Korenaar L’Enfant Terrible to drink. The variety of brews and olives that were placed on the table upon our arrival pleased my palate and prepped me for the delectable entrée that would ensue.
For my entrée, I ordered an eight inch “Di Mare” pizza which consisted of Paradiso tomatoes, minced garlic, parsley, parmesan cheese and mussels to top it off. When I say this is one of the best pizzas I have ever tasted, I truly mean that from the bottom of my belly. The crust from the brick, oven-baked dough was so crispy and flavorful and the toppings – ohhh those toppings – just blended so well together. I mean it’s mussels on a pizza. What is not to love about that? The combination of the pizza, the beer sampler and the “Pane” – homemade bread and roasted elephant garlic appetizer – made for a memorable meal. The delicious food coupled with the cozy atmosphere and spectacular hospitality of the wait staff – who seemed to stay on top of things at our table the whole night – made for a great dining experience and I will definitely be returning for dinner, if not for brunch next time. I highly recommend Pizzeria Paradiso to foodies and non-foodies alike and its Birreria to all of my drinking crowd. With great pizza, vast beer variety, inviting staff, cozy atmosphere and a convenient location, I have definitely found a dining gem in the district. For info on other great pizza places located around the DC Metro area check out About.com and WashingtonPost.com.