Ok, you live in the East Bay, but not really in the exciting parts like Oakland or Berkeley. You’re sorta stuck in the Fremont/Hayward/San Leandro no-man’s land of the East Bay*. There are plenty of places to eat, but most of them aren’t particularly exciting. Enter Paradiso.
Like Hayward’s Buon Appetito and a handful of other places around this stretch of land, Paradiso is an oasis of culinary delight. With classy decor, an upscale menu, and service that will put a smile on your face (as well as a hearty amount of water in your glass), Paradiso is a welcome pleasure.
What I loved most about Paradiso, after being wowed by the stunning interior, is the menu. I suppose the selections are nothing terribly unexpected in an Italian restaurant, but I was excited to see how different they were from Buon Appetito, my go-to classy/delicious Italian restaurant in the East Bay. While BA offers dish after dish of (fabulous) pasta, Paradiso changes it up with hearty variety of appetizers, Italian style thin-crust pizza, and a large selection of meaty mains. While we were (unfortunately) trying to keep our budget down on this particular Paradiso trip, we did not have the good fortune to experience any of the starters or salads. But what we did try was enough to keep us coming back.
The Boyfriend ordered his classic go-to: Pizza Margherita. I swear the man could live off that particular breed of pizza-pie, and he nearly does live off the ingredients (cheese and bread can make a nearly unending variety of foods, I have discovered). This pie was thin, crispy, and generously covered with a surprisingly exceptional mozzarella cheese. He enjoyed it; I looked on with envy until he gave me a slice.
I ordered what (I believe) was one of their specials that night: mushroom risotto. I love risotto. It’s fabulous. But, while I’ve never cooked the stuff, I find that it takes a bit of finesse and is easy to muck up. If the restaurant doesn’t seem up to it by one measure or another, I will often go for a more reliably good dish (pasta, for example). The vibe at Paradiso was giving me all the right signs, so I went for it. And I was rewarded greatly. This risotto was cooked perfectly. It was not too soft, yet not too al dente. It had the right consistency (kinda like oatmeal) and the taste was fabulous. Score one for Paradiso.
I’d love to go back to try some of their salads, the calamari appetizer, and perhaps one of their pastas or another pizza. (Although if there is risotto again, I make no guarantees that I won’t be sweet talked into having that.) They also have a small bar that’s super cute and tucked away in the rear of the entry area. Paradiso is definitely a gem worth visiting.
*Incidentally, Hayward is known as the “Heart of the Bay”. My mom calls it “The Armpit of the Bay”. I guess the glass can be half empty or half full, eh?