If you've somehow been fortunate enough to find the unassuming Jean Paul's Paradiso in Anderson Township, congratulations. Set next to a gas station with minimal physical attributes to draw attention to itself, the sit-down menu is packed with old-world favorites accomplished with incredible skill, like charred pizzas, pressed panini, and bright, rich pastas. Yet we'd be remiss not to mention the loaves of bread he turns out in abundance as well as the extensive pastry menu that stands completely on its own.
Sold both in his restaurant and at several farmer's markets across town in the warmer months, the menu includes tarts (the apricot often being a favorite), bulging muffins, crispy meringues, and a changing variety of Danish. But one of his employees disclosed that his personal favorite was the light, semi-sweet Apple Strudel ($5/slice), and we couldn't agree more that—even amongst this bevy of treasures—it's a stand out.
What we particularly loved was its nod to a classic European pastry, meaning that it was slightly under-sweet and mild to the Americans in our group, yet adored by those who hailed from France and Belgium. Blanketed with thinly-sliced apples and only mildly scented with cinnamon, the layers of pastry were both flaky enough that they yielded easily to a knife and substantial enough that the whole thing didn't collapse as several forks pried at a it. Dotted throughout were plump, dark raisins that occasionally contributed a richness but played second fiddle to the apples, which were baked to a point of just-soft and didn't release too much liquid overall.
And while one of us noted that we missed a heavy hand of butter that often comes oozing out of rolled pastry, the rest of us appreciated that there was a slightly nutty scent that, again, let the apples carry most of the flavor through.