When it’s this frigid outside, weekend plans are made by two defining factors: proximity of locale and level of warmth. It’s simply too cold to be running all over town, exposed to the elements. This means brunches are scheduled close to home or, as was the case last weekend, close to the afternoon’s plans.
When my Godsister Stephanie asked to have brunch, I looked at my calendar and immediately suggested we head to Georgetown. I was to be in the neighborhood for the Dagne Dover trunk show at Urban Chic that afternoon. (I’m a huge fan of the brand. Finally, I have a chic work handbag that not only holds my laptop and all my essentials, but is also waterproof and stainproof. It is life-changing, I’m telling you.)
Paolo’s Ristorante was nearby and offered a bottomless, endless brunch deal plus a kid-friendly atmosphere for my Goddaughter, Mina. Plus, they have a wood-burning fireplace in the dining room, which I insisted we sit next to, making for the perfect cozy winter brunch.
And it really was sort of perfect. Paolo’s is an old stalwart of Georgetown. The restaurant has been in its Wisconsin Avenue perch for what seems like decades (though it’s certainly not as long as its across-the-street neighbor, Martin’s Tavern). And while it was rather empty when we arrived that morning, the huge restaurant quickly filled up and was buzzing with happy brunchers.
I arrived before Stephanie and her daughter, Miss Mina, so I cozied up to the fire with my book and a cup of hot coffee. The servers also placed three hot breadsticks, covered with poppy seeds, on the table for me to snack on. On the side was a ramekin of olive tapenade, which was so tasty and perfect with the hot breadsticks. I was quite happy, cozy, and comfortable.
When Stephanie and Mina arrived, we dove into the unlimited and bottomless menu while Mina dove into coloring a masterpiece with her crayons. The deal at Paolo’s is a great one. It’s no wonder this brunch has survived the years: $35 bottomless endless, or $25 food only, $15 cocktails only.
The menu is huge: appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, pizzas a la carte, paninis, pasta dishes, even a selection of risottos. For beverages, you have a choice of mimosas, bellinis, Bloody Marys, or season bellinis. The Bloody Mary was classic.
We ordered the burrata crostini as our appetizer, not realizing that everything really was small plates, meaning there would only be a single piece of whatever we ordered. The burrata was perched on a single crostini, topped with pesto, sliced tomatoes, sea salt, and olive oil.
The crostini was great, though we could have had four more. Wanted to stick to brunch fare, we ordered the truffled egg risotto. The Parmesan risotto was made with crispy prosciutto ham mixed in, and it was served in a small dish with asparagus and a big poached egg on top. Unfortunately, the entire dish got supremely mushy, and the risotto was not the best we’ve had.
We had heard great things about Paolo’s pizza, so we ordered the brunch pizza. It definitely lived up to expectations. The crust, for one, was so perfect. Hot and crispy, but soft inside. On top, there was quattro formaggi, spinach, pancetta bacon, a tomato basil relish, and, of course, a sunnyside up egg.
Much like the crostini, the Italian Benedict arrived in its lonesome. A single poached egg on pancetta bacon with aglio e olio spinach and amazing Hollandaise. All this, perched on a single piece of ciabatta toast. I would have liked another one.
We ordered a side of fried Brussels sprouts, because Brussels sprouts with anything is my new favorite thing. These were particularly lovely, cooked with golden raisins, chilies, and shallots.
We couldn’t resist ordering the bruleed French toast for dessert. The two round Pullman loaves were presented with tuaca spiked pastry cream and season fruit compote on top. We were getting rather full at this point.
Our final order, the duck and egg hash, arrived after the French toast, so was an after-thought for us. In fact, I was so full at that point that I could only have a few bites. The dish was duck confit with venetian potatoes, chilies, and sunny eggs all baked together. It looked tasty, but the pieces didn’t mix well together.
We were beyond full, Mina was happy as pie with her coloring and kids’ dishes, and the fire was just making us sleepy and relaxed. We waddled up the hill to Urban Chic to check out purses (I carried Mina, working off the entire brunch).
The Bitches say: A. A classic D.C. endless bottomless brunch. While the bites are hit or near-miss, the price can’t be beat.
1303 Wisconsin Ave. N.W.
Paolo’s serves brunch on Saturdays and Sundays.