Story by Yimali Gonzalez + Photography Submitted by Paradiso Italian Restaurant
“The answer is YES. What is the question?”
When you step into Paradiso Italian Restaurant you’ll likely be greeted by a charismatic man who will make you feel more like you’re at a second home than a restaurant. When he isn’t doting on customers, you can catch him cheering on the staff, flipping a pizza, or singing. His name is Eddy Santiago, and he is the face of Paradiso. His answer to exceeding your expectations is always: “YES.”
Paradiso’s story began almost 30 years ago when Santiago’s parents-in-law, Tony and Julia Amato, converted what was once a hardware store, then a gas station, then a post office into a nearly 10,000 square foot warm and welcoming restaurant. Paradiso’s charms extend beyond ambiance with its fresh, authentic Sicilian recipes including handmade sauces, doughs, and pastas that enrapture the palate.
Santiago first fell in love with food when sixteen, asnwering phones at local Dominos Pizza. During the 23 years since, he has worked both front of house and back of house positions, and he astutely understands all layers of working in the hospitality industry. With his passion for the culinary arts and for people, Santiago now propels the family’s legacy forward.
“I breathe it. I bleed it. We have to deliver on people’s hard work and sacrifice.”
Hospitality is the driving force for Paradiso. “I breathe it. I bleed it. We have to deliver on people’s hard work and sacrifice,” Santiago said. If a family struggles to save money to go out for dinner once a month, that meal has to be something special – not merely a meal, but an experience. To give people that special experience, Paradiso is undergoing a metamorphosis, a restructuring and rebranding that is building momentum. Santiago’s new chef and team know Paradiso’s most important people are the customers who walk in the door. Paradiso’s website and menu are also undergoing changes, and the restaurant has added more events to appeal to the community.
Paradiso has something for everyone. Whether you seek relaxation or entertainment, with or without kids, Paradiso has an amenity or event for you. The space is divided into three rooms plus an outdoor patio. Therefore, at Paradiso, you can hold a business meeting, sip tea in a quiet corner, listen to live music and have some drinks, or enjoy a family date night. Or, if you’d rather enjoy a kid-free romantic meal or a girls’ night out, kids can eat and play in Paradiso’s supervised kids’ playroom which features a kid-friendly menu, Disney movies, and activities. Paradiso also offers an open mic night, blues night, local talent night, poker night, karaoke night, seasonal themed events, lunch buffet, and Sunday brunch. The lunch buffet and Sunday brunch are Paradiso’s best kept secrets, with more than 40 fresh, hot, and ready items for under $14 per person.
Another way Paradiso stands out from other local restaurants is its immersion in the community. Paradiso often partners with local breweries, distilleries, and wineries. Recently, Paradiso offered a Fair Winds Brewing Company dinner by matching each menu item to a different beer. Paradiso also gives back to the community by providing food to various fundraisers and organizations such as The Journey church, Edison High School, Animal Allies, and the Lee High School Varsity Football team. With The Journey, Paradiso helps fundraise for The Living Water Project, which empowers ministries and communities all over the world with sustainable construction, maintenance expertise, and clean water. Chances are while at an Alexandria event, unbeknownst to you, you have already tasted some of Paradiso’s delicious Sicilian delights!
Paradiso Italian Restaurant is located at 6124 Franconia Road in Alexandria, VA. You can contact them at 703-922-6222 or visit them online at www.theparadisorestaurant.com