Warm, helpful service from waiters with believable Italian accents.
Sitting by the windows, which open wide to the avenue on nice days.
People watching: The bar attracts local power players, including city councilmen and (at least once) Mayor Nutter.
Good to Know
The honey that’s served with the ricotta and bread is from the rooftop hive that lives over the restaurant.
The meats for the charcuterie plate are cured in the basement.
The Cheese Plate
Spaghetti alla Chittara, Wild Mushrooms, Caramelized Shallot, Pancetta
Pan Seared Artic Char, Creamed Leeks, Maitake Mushroom
Casale Vecchio, Pecorino, Farnese
Shiraz, Archetype, Barossa Vally, Australia
These days, anyone planning to open a restaurant or bar takes a hard look at East Passyunk Avenue in South Philly, where trendy eateries and hip watering holes have proliferated steadily since about 2007. But when Lynne Rinaldi opened Paradiso, her gorgeous and grown up Italian restaurant and bar back in 2005, no one (save her) knew that her spot was an appetizer for the smorgasbord that was to come. It was the restaurant’s early acclaim and success that begat the little “restaurant row” that surrounds Paradiso now.
It still stands out among the crowd. Homemade pastas are a must-order. The Spaghetti alla Chittara, long strands of tender pasta nested with earthy wild mushrooms and sweet caramelized shallots, is especially wonderful. Take a cue from the Italians and order a half-portion as a mid-meal course.
House-cured charcuterie is a winner as well. The large board brims with a rotating cast of dense, flavorful slices. Two recent favorites were the deeply savory duck prosciutto and a rich, porky lardo. Meat options appeal elsewhere on the menu as well. Order the osso bucco, served over white beans and crowned with a fresh hazelnut gremalota, for a stick-to-the-ribs kind of supper.
And if you feel you must choose between cheese and dessert, cheese should win out every time. It’s a well-curated international selection, but what makes it really special is the presentation. Room temperature cheeses will be wheeled to your table via cart under a gossamer sheet of cheesecloth. It’s just one more indication that this trailblazing restaurant still knows how to set a standard for classy dining in South Philly.
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points. Once you have collected 2,500 points, you can redeem them for either a $25 gift certificate or a charitable donation in the amount of $25.