First, my review has been divided into two sections, since "Birreria Paradiso" (BP) is, in actuality, the lower level of "Pizzeria Paradiso." In that there are no separate entries for the latter, the bisected review is necessary to provide a concise description of this exceptional beer bar (and Neapolitan pizzeria).
Pizzeria Paradiso/BP is located on the south side of M Street amid the posh enclave of Georgetown, home of narcissistic poseurs and fashion fops and a destination to many slack-jawed tourists in search of T-shirts - or to check out the stairs from the movie "The Exorcist," which are a few blocks up the street. As a long-time resident of this area, I have always despised Georgetown and have made it a life long point to avoid it like the proverbial plague. That is until now, because with last year's opening of Birreria Paradiso, I am now forced to venture into Georgetown and seek out the city's best beer bar. (Sorry, Brickskeller, you have been deposed.)
Because parking is sketchy, Pizzeria Paradiso/BP can be reached by public transit, the nearest stations being Dupont Circle, where one gets off for the aforementioned Brick, Foggy Bottom or Rossyln in Virginia (you would have to cross the Key Bridge and hang a right on M Street. All of these stops are about a 20-minute walk. Alternatively, for $1.00 you could ride the Georgetown Circulator bus that runs from Union Station along Massachusetts Avenue (where you may disembark for the Old Dominion Brewhouse) and turns onto Pennsylvania Avenue and onto M Street, where it turns north a few blocks from BP.
I - Pizzeria Paradiso (Upstairs): Upon entry you should meet the bored hostess or host who will try to find you a table in the cramped dining room on the left or you can just try to find a spot at the small marble-topped bar directly behind her or him. Look up and check out the blue sky painted on the ceiling, a nice feature for someone who has quaffed a few too many Belgian abbeys only to wake up staring at the sky. A nice touch, though.
The beers list is extraordinary and the beers (80 bottles/16 taps) are carefully selected and frequently rotated. Don't worry if you do happen to sit upstairs, since most of the listed beers are available.
Along with a tasty roast pork Panini, I enjoyed on draught: Troeg's Nugget Nectar (See Review), Wells' Bombardier English Premium Bitter and a bottle of Belhaven Twisted Thistle IPA. Note: go easy on the garlic when drinking hoppy beers. Having sated myself, I waited until 5pm and the opening of:
II - Birreria Paradiso (Downstairs): Upon entering Pizzeria Paradiso, head toward the rear of the dining room and to the left of the open kitchen; adjacent to the wine cellar, there is a door, a Portal of Pleasure. Descend the stairs where Beervana awaits. It is a dimly lit space with a low ceiling accommodating a small bar that can seat about 10, lounge seating by the fireplace for 8 people and tables for around twenty. Restrooms can be found at the far end of the bar. A few on tap that I had that night: Troeg's Nugget Nectar (I had some more damn it), Victory Baltic Thunder and Oskar Blues Gordon. I also enjoyed the following bottled goodness: Belhaven Ale and Three Floyd's Alpha King.
IMPORTANT: Ask for the special "Small Batch" list.
I've taken you as far as possible. Discover this place for yourself. I know that I'll be back....
Phenomenal new addition to the DC beer scene. Openened 02/06/2006. Cosy intimate basement with fireplace, bar and tables. Inaugural 14 taps were Duchesse de Bourgogne, Saison Dupont, Fullers ESB, Bluebird Bitter, Unibroue Maudite, Rogue Shakespeare Stout, Kasteel Triple, Hoffbrau Haus Weizen, Ommegang Hennepin, Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA, North Coast Old Rasputin, Schneider Aventinus and Clipper City Small Craft Warning Uber Pils on handpulled cask. Manager promises a great rotating selection. Great food and pizzas from parent restaurant upstairs a big plus.