Call it what you want, Pizzeria, Birrera, what have you…but no matter which way you slice it (pun sort of intended), this little nook tucked away on M Street amongst the hustle and bustle of busy shoppers in the District’s famed shopping mecca, Paradiso is a fantastic little hideaway that is a must visit in DC.
Every time I visit this establishment, which lately has been a lot, walking through the well hidden doorway, down the dimly lit staircase, and emerging below seems reminiscent to me of an old time speakeasy where only those in the know….well…know about the place. It is small, cozy, and almost cave-like, and with one glance around the room you will quickly notice that this is the place for brew connoisseurs to convene and wax poetic about their favorite casks and ales.
Now admittedly, I have never been much of a beer fanatic, always opting for some other libation at hand, but this place has made a believer out of me for three reasons:
- Amazing beers
- Inventive menu
- Fantastic staff
On each occasion that I have been there, I feel as though I am relaxing in a good friend’s living room. It is always a kicked back atmosphere, hearth fire blazing during the colder months, and a no-rush policy that makes me want to return again and again. The staff is as incredibly helpful as they are friendly, even to a novice like me, guiding me through the different ingredients, flavors, brewing processes. It is clear they really love and take pride in their frequently fluctuating menu.
Each time I have visited, our table has been graced by knowledgeable servers, Jose and Hector, two of the most informed and patient fellas around. They recognize my group of cronies each time, and are always quick to say hello and chat enthusiastically about the new beer selections. If you meet either of them, be sure to strike up a convo, cause these guys know their stuff!
A few of my favorites from my last visit, thanks to some excellent guidance from our pal Hector, were the following (apparently I like strong beers):
Kissmeyer Stockholm Syndrome
English: Heavily hopped with 50 % US and 50 % NZ hops, for a dry, clean and intensely fruity DIPA. The explosion of citrus, passion fruit, peach and apricot flavors wraps the intense hop bitterness in a highly seductive way. Think ’This is my idea of the ideal fruit bowl!’
Schneider & Sohn Aventinus
Dark ruby, glistening mysteriously, streaked with fine, top-fermented yeast, this beer has a compact, stable and long-lasting head. It has an intensive, typically top-fermented clove-like aroma. The palate experiences a gentle touch, on the tongue it is very full-bodied, compact and yet fresh with a hint of caramel. It finishes with a light and delicate taste of bitters leaving behind a strong, smoothly rounded, sour impression.
Stillwater Harvest Saison
Brewed with a blend of EKG, Summit, and fresh wet/green Citra hops.. Then aged on both Red & Spanish Cedar and additionally dry-hopped. Inspired by a recent trip to the Netherlands. (one off Draft & Cask only, DRINK FRESH!!)
And as always, they have a rotating menu of goodies in addition to their heavenly pizza selections, offering the perfect noshes to fill your belly as you make your way through the brews. For instance a recent menu addition that caught my eye was Potato Latkes with Banana, Black Pepper and Aventinus Sauce (made from a base of the French Chardonnay Aventinus Edelster). All-in-all, definitely worth a try whether you live in DC or are visiting from out of town. Thanks to the guys there for always making it such a pleasant experience!