Mon 31 Aug 2009
As we mentioned yesterday, Pizzeria Paradiso has made the move. For months now, we’ve been watching and waiting to see when Ruth Gresser’s temple to wood-fired pizza would shutter their cramped cozy digs at 2029 P Street to make the move into the newly-renovated space at 2003 P. This Saturday, it was finally go time, and we were some of the first folks to stop in and check the new space out.
The differences between this location and its predecessor begin to make themselves apparent right away. Big glass windows on two sides allow in a tremendous amount of light, offsetting the exposed brick and wooden tabletops. The result is a feeling very similar to that of Paradiso’s M Street location.
Perhaps the most noticeable change, though, is the bar that runs along the right-hand wall. Fans of the original Paradiso will remember that the close quarters left little room for any kind of bar, let alone one of the best-stocked and most knowledgably-serviced bars in the area. That was what made the addition of Birreria Paradiso, the basement beer bar on M Street, such a welcome addition. The new expansion has taken that beerphoria and integrated it into the P Street location.
More photos of the interior, some details on what the new space offers for beer-lovers and pizza fans alike, and an old favorite pie from a new oven after the jump.
One thing that hasn’t changed from the old location to the new is the bar seating facing into the kitchen. If you’re a real fan of pizza or just want to watch the pizzaioli at work, you can pull up a bar stool and get a close-up view of everything going into (and coming out of) the oven. It’s a great way to pass the time if you’re dining alone, but it’s worth a watch just to see how much effort goes into making each pie from beginning to crispy, delicious end.
Beyond those stools, however, the new space is more than twice as big as the original. While Paradiso’s townhouse location could previously only seat 35 people for table service, the space at 2003 P will be able to accommodate 80. For those keeping score, that’s still 20 fewer seats than the Georgetown location offers, but it should help to ease some of those peak wait times for Dupont area diners.
Like them or not, those wait times are likely to remain a part of the Paradiso experience, as the restaurant is still first-come, first-served. They don’t accept reservations, so your best bet is to come early, put your name in, and settle in to wait.
But now you’ll be able to wait in comfort, thanks to the new bar I mentioned previously. Greg Jasgur, who oversees Birreria, has been given another vehicle with which to introduce DC beer drinkers to the best microbrews and new flavors out there. Eager to try something from Duck-Rabbit brewery? Greg’s got their brown on draft and their milk stout in bottles. What about Allagash’s sweet potato and black pepper-inflected Fluxus ’09? Got that, too. Chances are, he’s got something for every taste here, with twelve taps, 180 bottled options (in stock) and even a cask ale (currently Clipper City’s Loose Cannon)
For our inaugural visit to the new digs, we wanted to go with something we’ve always enjoyed off of Paradiso’s menu, the Bottarga. This pizza combines traditional pie toppings (tomato, garlic, parsley, parmesan) with two types of egg. The first is a pair of chicken eggs, cracked atop the pie and allowed to cook in the oven, and the second is bottarga, salted cod roe. The acid in the tomatoes, the bite of the garlic and the saltiness of the cheese and roe come together nicely, but what really sets this pie apart is breaking into the yolks of the eggs while they’re still soft. The unctuousness of the yolk running in among the other flavors is wonderful.
I’m happy to report that our Bottarga was right on the money. All of the flavors were there, and the crust itself was appropriately blistered and blackened in spots. While some things may have changed at the new Pizzeria Paradiso, it’s nice to know that the really important things – quality, consistency, flavor – have not.