For the past 15 years, I’ve known one consistent pizza fact: the Atomica pizza at Pizzeria Paradiso was the bomb. It was. It was meaty and salty and fiery with red pepper flakes. A crust thick, soft, and crispy at once, and the tomatoes and salami and black olives crafted and baked to look like art. Whenever I was with child, I would go there, find a corner seat so no one would see a pregnant woman devouring a large Atomica with extra red pepper flakes all by herself. The babies demanded it – that’s how good the Atomica tastes.
The family and I went to Pizzeria Paridiso in Dupont Circle earlier this week for lunch and I was horrified to be presented with a pizza that lacked any element of what makes the Atomica a great pizza. The crust was flat in flavor and texture – almost as if someone forgot the yeast or used the wrong flour. The tomatoes, cheese, and other ingredients had smaller real estate on the dough – a clear sign of betrayal. But to add insult to injury, there was less cheese and salami than usual. It simply did not taste like the Atomica.
Eric is not a Pizzeria Paradiso fan, but indulges me from time to time. He agreed the pizza was subpar. Had I been alone I would have lingered and talked to the manager, but the two small children dining with us were about to lose it. Super Boy was throwing food at people throughout the meal, which should have tipped me off. He may be one-and-a-half, but he’s pretty brilliant.
For years I’ve tolerated the bad service at Pizzeria Paradiso because of the Atomica. Before I end the relationship, however, I’m going to give it one more chance. I plan to dine there in the next few weeks and will report back. Because we all have bad days, right? I have them all the time. I just don’t promise anyone consistent cheesy-meaty-pizza goodness.
The one bright spot to this week’s visit there was the wine. I had a glass of the house white, which is the 2008 Monferrato Bianco. Lovely. It was neutral -- hence it being a house wine -- but if it had to lean anywhere, it was in the direction of a chardonnay. At the restaurant, it sells for $6 a glass, and $20 for a bottle. I’ve put it on the list of things to stock up on if I learn the world is coming to an end.