Ever since Parisi finished its remodel this February, the longstanding Italian eatery has become a more regular stop on my lunch circuit. Thanks to some help from Semple Brown (the same firm that designed Euclid Hall, the Kitchen, and Frasca Food and Wine’s new dining room), the loftlike space in Berkeley now includes long planks of beetle kill pine and the ceiling and floor joists of a neighboring 1890s duplex. The new look is at once chic and comfortable, perfect for flipping through a magazine or catching up with a friend.
Although I usually stick to a thin, Neapolitan-inspired pizza with a tumbler of wine or caffeinated beverage, I recently strayed from the norm and tried Parisi’s mozzarella tasting board. The starter, which has long been a popular item at the fast-casual cafe’s subterranean full-service restaurant, Firenze a Tavola, was added to Parisi’s menu after the remodel. The sampler includes Burrata, buffalo mozzarella, and fior di latte (“regular” cow’s-milk mozzarella), all imported from Italy. “We love the homegrown, artisanal attitude these days,” owner Christine Parisi says, “but some things Italian are really best from Italy.” Each cheese arrives with an accompaniment: bruschetta for smearing the Burrata on to, seasonal fruits or veggies (currently zucchini) to pair with the buffalo mozzarella, and an exquisite bell pepper-tomato marmalade for the fior di latte.
The dish is a great way to do a side-by-side comparison of three related cheeses. That is, if you can resist the temptation of those gorgeous accouterments in favor of a naked bite.
4401 Tennyson St., 303-561-0234