Tucked away in Suffolk Park’s small cluster of shops and businesses on Clifford Street sits Pizza Paradiso, casually and cheerfully peddling a modern take on what can be a tired and stale Australian version of basic Italian fare.
And yet this little eatery is anything but tired and stale – whether you’re wont to drop in for a quick takeaway, or dine in and enjoy their large array of artisan pizza, pasta, tapas and desserts, Pizza Paradiso isn’t merely ‘another pizza joint’.
As proprietor Doug Blackstock says, since they opened six years ago (to the week), the aim has been to create more of a hub, somewhere locals can come to eat, but also to relax and take ownership of a space in an area dominated, and in large part defined, by its transient tourist population.
“We’re aiming to make it a cultural focus point for Suffolk Park,” he confirms. “More so in the past 12 months it’s become a very big thing, our last poetry night was packed. So yeah, we are trying to create a scene of some sort.”
Boasting live music most nights, the odd poetry reading, a solid wine-list and an impressive array of craft beers and ciders in addition to its food, Pizza Paradiso delivers on Blackstock’s ideal. Its relatively small size also fosters an intimate, comfortable environment, nicely removed from the bustle of Byron, just up the road.
Blackstock goes on to say that they’re looking to start a film club at some stage in the near future too, no doubt furthering the restaurant’s cultural cause – it’s certainly not just about the food.
What is in sharp focus is the beer list, very much about craft beer, which has enjoyed a large resurgence in the past half decade. Boasting at least 30 different brews from which to choose, there’s something for every serious (and not so) hops head. Pale Ales from WA and SA; IPAs and American IPAs from WA and Victoria; Wheat Beers from Tasmania; Ales from the UK and Byron Bay; Golden Ales, Amber Ales, Lagers, Pilsners and Porters, not to mention a couple of mango and lychee flavoured numbers.
“It’s a bit hard to explain without sounding like a hipster,” Blackstock says with a laugh on his craft beer obsession. “These are beers that are made with real care and love, they’re not a mass-produced beer, so there tends to be more depth in flavour, and also in range.”
For a chilly winter’s eve, the Holgate Temptress Chocolate Porter does wonders in warming up a shivering, thirsty diner. There are also plans to add in a number of craft gins and tequila.
The food itself stands as solid fare – locally named pizzas like Magic Mullumbimby and Broken Head (toped with pesto, bacon, mushrooms, red onion and rocket) make the grade and then some, along with pasta traditional and in-house. Pizza Paradiso seems to be a slow build, but it’s certainly a warm and inviting place, a little gem amongst the dross.
Samuel J. Fell