Archive for May, 2008

Overdue Review: Pizzeria Paradiso

May 19, 2008

Yes, I know it’s been forever…yes, I know you’ve missed me.  With rising food prices, we’ve been eating in more (and spending the same it seems!)  How have you been coping with all prices being sky-high?

These quick reviews over the next few days are some of our favorite lower-cost options around town: two stand-by restaurants, and one stand-by recipe.

Pizzeria Paradiso (Or as we shorthand it, “PP”  This can also be used as a verb: “Let’s PP Friday night”)

The Setting:
The two locations in Georgetown and Dupont are similar, with Georgetown also having a basement floor bar, Birreria Paradiso, which has microbrews galore.  The Dupont location (where we typically frequent) is smaller, so expect to wait any night at anytime, unless you’re lucky or just really, really, ridiculously good-looking.  It’s a little cramped, but it still feels like a neighborhood joint, and I usually run into someone I know (since once you eat at PP, you return.  Often).

Grab a stool at the bar facing the brick-oven or squeeze into one of the tables by the window for that part-of-the-neighborhood feel.

The Service:
I love the servers at Paradiso.  They’re super-friendly, and there seems to be low turn-over.

The Food:
Ah, pizza: the true food of the gods.  I love Paradiso with its heavy cheese and yeasty crust.  I always start with the bread (which I dip in olive oil sprinkled with Parmesan cheese) or the mozzarella fresca – buffalo mozzarella with sun-dried tomatoes and slivers of basil.  Next is a pepperoni and mushrooms pie, which will ruin you forever.  The pepperoni is spicy and the mushrooms huge and flavorful.  And don’t overlook the crust: it dips in that olive oil just as well.

pizzeria-paradiso-1

The Dupont location will be moving soon, but thankfully just to a place down the street with more space!  Our server recently told us they’re hoping to move around Thanksgiving, but one never knows for sure until it actually happens.

Best for: Pizza-lovers, people who like to support their local neighborhood place (PP is big on being “part of the neighborhood”) and kids.

Worst for: Couples seeking a quiet, romantic evening out and groups over 6 – head to the Georgetown location for that and enjoy!

Cafe Asia – Arlington

May 7, 2008

Much to Brian’s chagrin, I’m not normally in the mood for sushi.  But when I am, we head to Cafe Asia.

Cafe Asia

The Setting:
I’ve been to both locations of Cafe Asia and they are similar in feel – modern, open, and the decor is bland (I’m not one for white on white).  The Arlington location has two outdoor seating spaces, and on this last trip I discovered the huge back room – a giant movie screen against one wall and an accent wall of bright orange.  All I could think when I saw the space was, “Office Holiday Party!”

The Service:
The servers always pop by before you’ve had a chance to look at the drink menu (something you should definitely check out) and then don’t come back for.ever.  Also, don’t expect your water glass refilled, and ask for new drinks at the first sign that you’ll need a new one – it’ll take a while.  Also, as quick as they are to come to the table, when it’s time for your check, you’ll inevitably have to flag someone down.

The Food:
Let’s start with the cocktails since I suspect this is really why this spot is Brian’s favorite.  Order the mojito.  Seriously.  You wouldn’t think that a great mojito would come from an Asian place, but it does.  It’s just one of the great mysteries of the universe.

Usually I stick with my tapas-style ordering of several appetizers: the miso soup (a little bland but a large portion), crab wontons (great mayo-ish dip on the side), chicken satay (but WHEW is it spicy!), and a California hand roll.  I’m not so keen on how they do their hand rolls – too much shoved in unevenly, but I haven’t learned my lesson even after ordering it a half-dozen times.  Steer clear of the Vietnamese spring rolls.  They sound delicious with ground pork, noodles, and mushrooms, but they always leave a film in my mouth that I can still taste an hour later.  (It took me 3-4 times of ordering this before I remembered).

Brian gets sushiand loves the Cafe Asia roll, and we’ve also had success wirh the Ninja roll, spider roll, firecracker roll (Brian rolled his eyes at that one), and anything that adds a little “crunchy.”

For noodles, the noodle soup is HUGE – the recipe must have been handed down from someone who used to prepare it for a whole village.  Jeanette got the Tom Yum soup and it looked divine and she slurpped the hell out of it (which is considered polite).  On the most recent visit, I went out of my comfort zone and ordered the Yaki Udon with chicken and was very, very happy with it – I’ll be ordering it again!

Cafe Asia is a great place for groups.  The menu is huge and almost anyone can find something they like – including non-sushi lovers and those watching what they eat!

Best for: Groups, a fun later-in-the-relationship date

Worst for: An intimate, romantic night out