While Pizzeria Paradiso consistently offers Old Town Alexandria’s most interesting beer menu, the doglegged little bar always felt too cramped — until last night, that is, when I stopped in to check out the newly enlarged space. Gone is the fireplace that clumsily separated the bar counter from the rest of the dining room; removing it more than doubled the available square footage. There’s now a large communal table, long dining counters, a few regular tables and, when the seats are filled, a wide open floor plan. Even with crowds that turned up to taste beer from featured local breweries, it never felt claustrophobic, which had been a problem with previous events.
Speaking of events, Paradiso is celebrating the debut of its expanded bar with a series of dinners and tapping parties this week.
Tonight and Wednesday feature five-course beer dinners, both priced at an all-inclusive $65. Seats remain for tonight’s 7 p.m. dinner, with a focus on Belgian and Italian beers. The main attractions are a pizza topped with chicken sausage, goat cheese and an almond/apricot pesto, paired with the strong Super Baladin from Birrificio Le Baladin, and a dish of figs with ricotta and whiskey brown sugar glaze with the exquisite De Dochter van de Korenaar Peated Oak Aged Embrasse.
Wednesday’s American-focused dinner includes grilled summer vegetables with the easy-drinking Boulevard Tank 7 Farmhouse Ale and a veggie summer pizza (herb tomato sauce, summer herb salad and buffalo mozzarella) with Terrapin’s 10th Anniversary Ale. (Full menus are available on Paradiso’s Web site.)
Thursday, though, should be the biggest event: Every tap is being turned over to San Diego’s Green Flash Brewing Company, and a total of 14 drafts and three casks will be offered from 5 p.m. on. Arrive early, and not just because beers are half-price between 5 and 7: I hear the impossible-to-find Green Flash/Founders collaboration, Linch Pin, will be on tap.