Cosmopolitan is a nice word that implies a pleasant, worldly, stylish atmosphere. Worldly in the case of Al Paradiso Vicenza means tourists eat here because they don’t know any better, or prefer the company of loud expat locals and international businessmen.
This particular evening, we were looking for a new experience in central Vicenza. Al Paradiso had actually been highly recommended to us (which should have been a warning). Pizza was what we wanted, so we set off looking forward to a new experience.
Upon arrival (great location just off the southwest corner of Piazza dei Signori) we were warmly welcomed, and ushered immediately upstairs to a hot, loud, crowded, dining area. We were seated next to a group of loud ladies who shortly after our arrival decided to push their tables together, effectively making us their audience for the evening.
Surrounded and unable to escape, we asked the waiter to be moved to the dining room downstairs. He said this is the only dining room (which is a lie), but we didn’t feel like pushing the point, and tried instead to ignore the obnoxious cackling group directly adjacent to our table. Oh what fun!
After about ten minutes, I got up and retrieved unattended bread sticks from an empty table, so we would have something to snack on as we continued to wait for anyone to come back and take our order (which normally wouldn’t be an issue, except for the dreadful atmosphere). Shortly thereafter food and beverage orders were placed with a very polite waiter, and it took no time at all for our half-litre of less than mediocre chilled red wine, and water, to show up.
Nearly as quickly as the wine appeared, so did the pizzas, (shockingly) well presented and just as tasty. Special request substituting regular mushrooms for “funghi porcini” on my pizza prosciutto funghi was, as it turned out, an excellent decision. Typical pizza prepared the way it should be, and quite tasty.
The food only slightly redeemed the overall experience. If you’re value conscious, this place is good pick. If you want authentic pizza, you could do worse. Atmosphere and ambiance usually aren’t important here in Italy. However when combined with loud obnoxious fellow guests who speak your own language, the situation becomes a bit much. Even in overwhelmingly touristy locations we rarely have such an unpleasant experience.
I suppose we expected more from an establishment so close to home, and in a central location not usually frequented by the uncultured throngs.