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Walk into any grocery store today and you’re bound to find logs upon logs of goat cheese. But in 1983, when Randy Paragary opened his namesake bistro in midtown, the now-ubiquitous cheese was a rare sight indeed.
Due to its lack of local abundance, Paragary bought his Laura Chenel’s goat cheese from a San Francisco-based food distributor. After all, it was a key ingredient in the Calzone 1983, a personal favorite of the restaurateur. “Thirty-five years ago, goat cheese was really unusual. [I liked that] it had a different kind of texture, a chalky texture, and a stronger flavor than mozzarella,” he says. “I learned about it going to Chez Panisse, which was the holy [grail] of cuisine, so that’s where I got the idea.”
Paragary’s version of the Neapolitan dish—which remained on the menu for over 30 years until the restaurant went through a major renovation and relaunch in 2015—features house-made pizza dough folded over goat cheese, mozzarella, thyme, sliced prosciutto, garlic and artichoke hearts. After the calzone is baked in the kitchen’s wood-fired oven, it’s brushed with olive oil, sprinkled with Parmesan cheese and parsley, and sliced into perfect fourths tableside. The dish is still ordered about a dozen times a week by those in the know, so the kitchen always has the ingredients on hand to make it.
The restaurateur says there’s no stopping the orders once one goes out. “It’s contagious,” Paragary says with a chuckle. “I might go have one right now.” $13.50. 1401 28th St. 916-457-5737. paragarysmidtown.com