Rim Country fans of television's Biography and History channels may be surprised to see a national advertising campaign featuring Payson's Cucina Paradiso and its pizza.
The restaurant is one of 3,000 pizzerias in the United States to participate in the campaign, which is being used to attract viewers to the premiere of "Rome: Engineering and Empire" airing Monday, Sept. 5.
The advertising campaign is directing viewers to go online to www.HistoryChannel.com and print a coupon good for a pizza at half price when purchasing one at full price. The coupon will be honored through Sept. 30, 2005.
Also on the website, viewers can enter for a chance to win a six-day, five-night trip to Rome.
Visitors who use their coupons for pizza at Cucina Paradiso will see a number of changes to the restaurant, including the addition of a wait bar and demonstration area for cooking lessons.
Currently, the landlord is remodeling the building's exterior, and for some time, Gerardo Moceri, owner of the restaurant, has been redoing the interior as well.
A new wait bar invites customers to enjoy wine or another favorite beverage until their table is ready, or to just stop and have a glass of wine with a small pizza for a quick meal.
Moceri expects the wait bar to be put into good use over the upcoming Labor Day weekend. He is preparing several specials for the holiday menu, including calamari fritti al fondue, Mediterranean mozzarella rolls, fish of the day, ravioli special and chicken rollatini.
Many of the wines used in the restaurant's successful wine-tasting dinners are stocked in the new wait bar.
One of the dinners, held Monday night, was sold out, Moceri said. The next wine-tasting dinner, on Oct. 10, will be built around a Columbus Day theme.
"It will feature indigent American foods that Columbus took back to Europe, plus the wines associated with his journey to the New World," Moceri said. He expects to serve both Spanish and Italian wines, and possibly something Caribbean.
"We have a cooking class (area) now, which is something I've always wanted to do," Moceri said. The space features a demonstration area and special lighting to give participants the best view of the methods used to make such things as regional Italian pasta, Italian desserts, appetizers and salads. Upcoming classes, which are filled already, include making fresh mozzarella and pizza, and a cooking class for children.
Cucina Paradiso is changing hours for the fall. It is open from 1 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday and Sunday and from 11 a.m. to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday through Friday. Weekday lunch is served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with dinner served from 4 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The restaurant is closed Monday.
The restaurant is at 512 N. Beeline Highway, Payson. For more information, call (928) 468-6500.