On my first visit to Paradise Italian Grill since their reboot from the long-standing neighborhood fixture, Paradise Pizza Cafe, first impressions were a little disappointing. Absent was the whimsical mural that graced the upper back wall above the lunch buffet serving area, the fake palm trees, the wooden seats, and the intimate upholstered booths that bisected the dining area. In their place: a large somewhat sterile dining area, with black metal seats and tables, and a granite-top bar area with big screen TVs on the wall behind it. In short, they paved 'Paradise' and put up a generic sports bar and grill.
However the menu retained much of the old Cafe's salads, pastas, calzones, thin-crust brick oven pizzas, and their famous crock pizza.
This evening I ordered the Five Meats Pizza, laden with diced ham, chopped meatballs, pepperoni, bacon, and Graziano's Italian sausage. The crust was thin, crispy, easy to chew. Meats and cheese were abundant enough to pass muster. Tomato sauce was on the light side, but in this instance it was a good thing. Sometimes, overabundance can ruin an otherwise stellar pizza [see blog post].
Regardless of the pizza, Paradise Italian Grill is not the place I had frequented over the last two decades. It's not the place that friends from afar would specifically request for a get-together meal. I have memories there. Some good, one particular instance not so good. Hint: when planning an intimate dinner, never dine at a place where your drinkin' buddies might frequent. The conversation might revolve around whom may or may not be gazing upon your junk in the foreseeable future.
For me, 'Paradise' is lost.