Pizzeria Paradiso

$$$$ ($14 and under)

Editorial Review

Pizzeria Paradiso, which officially opens on Wednesday, already seems at home on the lower half of Old Town Alexandria's King Street. If you've been to the Georgetown or Dupont Circle branches, it's all going to seem awfully familiar: Bright yellow walls, the smells of slightly charred pizzas coming out of the wood-burning oven, the impressive selection of draft beers listed on a chalkboard. Here, though, the soaring ceilings and wall of glass give the main dining room an airy feel, and tables are set further apart, so you don't feel like you're forced to listen to neighboring conversations -- a common occurrence in the Georgetown restaurant.

The bar also seems like a separate entity here, instead of the congested waiting area found in Dupont. It's back behind the largest part of the dining room, screened off by a large gas fireplace. (That should be great in the winter; there's already a rocking chair beside it.) It's not a huge space (there's about a dozen barstools and table seats for eight), but it's going to be a nice place to grab a beer while strolling around Old Town.

Speaking of beer, there are 14 drafts and one cask ale, all quality choices. In a nod to Old Town's glut of Irish bars, there's Porterhouse Red Ale, a pleasantly malty Dublin microbrew, but no Guinness, Harp or Smithwick's. Instead, you'll get an ever-changing lineup of American microbrews and Belgian standouts. For the opening, at least, the selection includes the hoppy Bluegrass American Pale Ale from Kentucky, Stoudt's Pils, Stone's crushingly hoppy Ruination IPA, the Belgian-style Allagash Tripel and Glazen Toren's orangey Jan De Lichte wit bier. The cask is Loose Cannon IPA from Baltimore's Heavy Seas brewery. Most cost between $6 and $8.

-- Fritz Hahn (Oct. 19, 2010)