Image: The Atomica might blow your mind.
Last Updated: 6/11/2020
Current Status: All three D.C. locations are open for sit-down and take-out. For Spring Valley you can make reservations. Delivery through 3rd party services. The Hyattsville location is open. The Alexandria location has been closed since March.
Employee Relief Funds – GFM and Merch.
Before Times Review:
Last Visited: July 2019
Over two decades ago, then-Washington Post restaurant critic Phyllis Richman wrote in her Top 50 guide of 1997: “Pizza needn’t be gloppy and soggy and heavy. At Pizzeria Paradiso it returns to its roots: bread with a bit of flavorful topping.” She then explained why this place was so good then and now: “What makes it more than the usual forgettable pizza is that the base is chewy, yeasty bread dough, baked in a wood-fired oven so that the bottom is crisp and flecked with smoky bits of char and the top is blistered to a flavorful golden finish. Crust this good doesn’t need to be drowned in tomato sauce or smothered in cheese. The toppings instead enhance the bread.”
What began as a small, personal endeavor has grown into reliable and special multi-location juggernaut. The one constant is that it has been under the watch of local legend Ruth Gresser for almost thirty years.
The menu is focused: pizza, sandwiches, salads, antipasti, bruschetta. Over many visits, there has never been a dud, with bruschetta arguably the strongest day in, day out. The pies are individually sized. Pizzeria Paradiso was a regional pioneer in this regard – along with 2 Amys. They are not as floppy or thin as some places, but they are very good. The menu rarely changes, although there are frequent specials that reflect more seasonal ingredients.
A few years ago, the basic wine list was upgraded (along with the move to better space). Now it is a craft beer Mecca. Beer directors have come and gone, with each generation seemingly bringing a passion and level of commitment to sustain the selection and knowledge. It is rumored that this has included driving miles to find a cask beer to put on tap.
Reflecting the menu, the environment is relaxed. Service is generally solid and frequently as knowledgeable as the bar staff about beer selections. Some of the locations (including Dupont and Spring Valley) have outdoor seating. All are bright and bustling. There are additional locations outside the District in Hyattsville and Alexandria.
No reservations, but it is worth the walk and worth the wait.
Rating: Worth the Walk
2003 P Street NW Washington DC
3282 M Street NW Washington DC
4850 Massachusetts Avenue NW Washington, DC
124 King Street Alexandria VA
4800 Rhode Island Avenue Hyattsville MD
Reservations: Walk -in
Washington Post: From the Phyllis Richman review quoted on the Paradiso site: “[m]aking great pizza isn’t all that difficult. You need good yeast dough – left to rise long enough to develop the flavor. Then a tomato sauce of quality, cheese that’s delicious and fresh herbs from the garden, honest olive oil and vibrant toppings. Plus a good hot wood-burning oven. In other words, all it takes is a commitment to quality. That’s what makes the difference at Pizzeria Paradiso.” That review is no longer on line, but the 1997 Top 50 quoted at the top of the page is. Reading that makes me nostalgic for the romantic (at least for me), original spot. It also makes one nostalgic for Richman’s reviews. Here is Tom’s 2017 Spring Dining Guide write up and two star rating.
Washingtonian: Best Pizza in DC 2018