Monday, August 27, 2007

The No Cheese Thin Crust 42 Bus Pizza Wars: Round 2

Second Stop: Pizzeria Paradiso

Finally, Round Two of this thing. And it's at Pizzeria Paradiso in Dupont Circle. Check out Round 1 at Ella's.

To be fair, we visited Pizzeria Paradiso on a Friday night (as we did at Ella's), and as usual it was busy. There were three couples waiting in the slim vestibule that everyone has to squeeze through to get to the dining area. The place was packed (pretty normal as well) and it smelled great. I've never counted, but I'd say the place seats 25, maybe a little less. We were surprised that the entire "bar" was nearly empty. There were 5 seats for the taking and all the other future diners were waiting for a table so we were seated immediately. The bar is literally a bar, but you overlook the kitchen area and stone oven, not a bartender and drinks. It's really refreshing to see the pizza chefs make the pizzas and prepare your salads. The prep and cooking area are tiny. The place is pleasantly minimalist in this way.

We split a pizza this time, ordering the Bosco, with no cheese and no mushrooms (ech). The staff here was exceptionally nice and we were offered an extra topping since we didn't want cheese which rarely happens at a restaurant. In college, when ordering a cheese-less pizza from Papa John's, I'd practically beg for that extra topping, but usually without success. Pizza nazis. I had to get that guy on the phone who JUST started working there and sell him on the idea before he wised-up. Anyway, we declined and had the Bosco with tomato, red onion and spinach. Usually, even if the place is full, its not too noisy (its a small, like I said). Tonight there was a rather raucous table. You know, the one that everyone is quietly whispering to their mates about, but food's so good and the guys were genuinely are having a good tome, so no one really cares enough to complain.

When the pizza came out we were so happy! It was delivered just as we finished our starter salad (the simple, but well done, insalata mista) and at 12" was just the right size to split. The tomatoes were the bee's knees. Chunky, but small pieces covered the crust, which was hot and had a good burnt to chewy ratio. I'm not a slice folder, but one could get by doing that sort of thing here. The table settings are pretty simple and we only needed to go for the olive oil. The left over crust makes a nice little "bready" snack with a little olive oil. The spinach and onions were very fresh as well.

Overall, very, very, very good pizza, ambiance and service. Who needs the cheese! The pie was very "natural" tasting, if you know what I mean... like it was meant to be bade without cheese and the chefs knew this. Very good then. Radius, you're next!