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Providence, RI Recommendations

  • s

My wife and I are planning a weekend in Providence in
July.

Can anyone recommend any fairly reasonably priced
restaurants or Bed and Breakfasts?

We have heard Al Forno is the best. Is it possible to
get in or do we need reservations weeks in advance?

Also, what are the sights you feel we definitely
should not miss while we are there?

Thanks so much fo any advice you can give.
Steve W./NYC

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  1. From my son, the culinary student in Providence:

    Al Forno does not accept reservations, although that should not be as much of a problem in the summer.

    Walter's is apparently also good.

    If you have the time to drive to Newport (about 45 minutes, Scales and Shells is excellent -- but take cash, they don't accept cards)

    As to bed and breakfasts, there are a number of sites (I can't recall any of them off the top of my head) that should provide all of the information you need, including links to sites that individual inns maintain.

    6 Replies
    1. re: bluefrog

      Dear Bluefrog,

      Thank you for your recommendations.

      We will be staying at the B and B, Ledbetters.

      More than one person we spoke to agreed that the place
      to eat in Newport is Scales and Shells. Walter's
      received mixed reviews and we were told to try
      Adesso's. Do you agree? Al Forno is closed on
      Sundays.

      After our visit, I will let you know how things went.

      Thanks again,

      Steve W.

      PS If you have any further thoughts about what we
      should definitely see while we're there, pls let me
      know.

      1. re: Steve W.

        If I am thinking of the right place (off of Thayer
        street), Adesso is nowhere near the same league as Al
        Forno... I've eaten a couple of good meals there, but
        nothing out of the ordinary. Better off going to any
        random Italian place on Federal Hill - Blue Grotto is
        one which I think was always reccomended, although I
        can't vouch for it personally. You must go to Daily
        Bread on Wickenden (near- maybe at- Hope St.) for
        fantastic Portuguese sweet bread. Get the big one -
        You'll eat it in handfuls all day... Maximillian's
        Ice Cream, off of Thayer near Waterman, handchurns
        their product in the basement - If Ben and Jerry's
        hasn't run it out of business, anyway. Any student in
        town for the summer can point you to either of the
        above no problem. Jim's, in the warehouse district on
        the other side of Federal hill from downtown, has some
        of the better ribs I've had north of the Mason-Dixon,
        but it is somewhat difficult to find. There are a
        couple of nicer places on the hill between downtown
        and College Hill that are worth visiting, but their
        names elude me - I'll post again if I can remember
        them.

        As for sights... Hmm. Four years there without a car
        left me without much of an idea in this area.
        Definitely walk around Brown and College Hill, get to
        Prospect Park for a beautiful view of downtown and the
        surrounding hills. Also tool around Federal Hill and
        down by the river on the East Side. There's a funny
        side trip to see a parrot colony - They've nested in a
        neighborhood just across the river, but I'm afraid I
        can't give any better directions than that. They are
        sufficiently well known in the birding community that
        you might find info if you search the web for
        "parrots" and "East Providence" or look in a couple of
        birding guides at your local bookstore. I don't think
        Access has a guide for Providence, but if they do, it
        should be in there.

        -MZ

        1. re: Mike Zurer

          >>Jim's for ribs<<

          What about Wes' Ribs over on Dike Street..with the
          famous lamb barbecue?

          Jim Zurer
          Washington DC

          1. re: Jim Zurer

            Jim is correct - Although there is another bbq place
            in town, I meant Wes's, not Jim's.

            After some consultation, I think New River is the name
            of one of the two I referred to in my last post -
            relatively upscale nouveau cuisine...

            -MZ

            1. re: Jim Zurer

              Jim,

              Although in the last few years Wes's has changed its internal decor (adding an all-around mural and a bar area, for instance) and its ambience (going from real plates and silverware to disposables, For Instance), this is still the best place to get Kansas City-style barbecue in the east. Great cornbread and collard greens too. Going to Wes's (if you can find it) is still an unusual and enriching experience, and they're open till after 3AM (for the after-the-theatre crowd from Trinity Rep, I guess). Even with the changes, Wes's is still a standout example of Calvin Trillin's dictum (which I'm paraphrasing since I don't remember where he wrote it or quite how it was phrased) "When in doubt, eat at the place with a "real-name-apostrophe-s" on the sign in the window."

              Now, for southern-style barbecue, there's always Redbone's ...

            2. re: Mike Zurer

              As for the parrot colony, I can steer you in the right direction. From I 95 north or south, take I-195 east. Take the Rt.44 exit, bearing right on the exit onto Veteran's Memorial Parkway. Follow to the end ,which will take you onto Pawtucket Ave.,which eventually becomes Bullocks Point Ave. After Passing the Looff Carousel on your left you come into Narragansett Terrace. Take the left fork and start scanning the trees and tops of telephone poles for large twig nests where the birds live. You'll no doubt hear them as well. They are small and green and quite noisy. Have fun!

        2. Hope it's not to late to post a recommendation. We are new to Rhode Island and the locals here suggest Camille's Roman Garden in Providence and also Christina's, both in the Federal HIll area, on Atwells. Not as well known as some others, but they say the food is great. Any restaurant in Federal Hill is bound to be good. Good pizza at Sicilia's, in Federal Hill, along Atwells. There is now a trolley that goes around the city, picking up and dropping off at various spots - only 50 cents. Good dependable food at a small chain called Chelo's, with a waterside location in East Greenwich, 20 min. from Providence. Newport has numerous seafood restaurants, take your pick as you walk around the wharf areas - Black Pearl is good.

          Be sure to walk around Waterplace Park. There is also a restaurant right along this park, whose name escapes me at the moment. Also good is the Capital Grille for steaks. Roger Williams Park and Zoo is excellent. Be sure to see the historical State House (trolley also goes here). Walk around Benefit Street for a tour of old homes. John Brown's house on Power St. dates to 1786. The nation's oldest Baptist Church is on North Main St. and was founded by Roger Williams in 1638. The Brown University area is neat to walk around also. Side trips can include a drive down to Newport (tough parking in the summer - go early, bring quarters for parking meters); also drive along Bellevue Ave. there to see some mansions built by the Vanderbilts, Astors, etc., as their summer cottages. Again, these are crowded in July to view the interiors so you may just want to drive by them if you are pressed for time. Continue along Bellevue Ave along to Ocean Drive and drive along the Atlantic Ocean. Then head back through Newport to Providence. Route 1 and 1A are scenic routes and can provide lots of stops for viewing the area. Good luck and have fun.

          2 Replies
          1. re: L

            Thank you very much for your very detailed
            instructions. Your timing was perfect!

            My wife and I are going this weekend and we will
            definitely check out as many of the sites/restaurants
            that you have recommended.

            When I return, I will let you know how everything went.

            Thanks again, Steve W.

            1. re: Steve W.

              We just got back from Providence/Newport where we
              spent two days.

              The highlight of the trip was the sunset cruise we took
              on Saturda night on the schooner the Madelaine that
              embarks from Bannister's Wharf. It was heavenly. The
              water was rough and choppy--just the wa I like it! We
              also did the Cliff Walk which was also very nice.

              Everyone said (including the locals) the place for
              seafood on Newport was Scales and Shells on Thames.
              Unfortunately it did not open until five (be warned,
              most of the restaurants on Newport and Prov. we found
              out also do not open until then) and it would have been
              too tight for our boatride. But I do have to say when
              we called S&S to ask a few questions, the propietor was
              incrdibly rude! We ended up eating at the Black Pearl
              on Bannister's. The clam choweder was outstanding; my
              wife's ver nice-sized lobster was excellent; however,
              the 3 soft-shelled crabs on my plate, while vey tasty,
              were also very small.

              We staed at Cady's B&B on Power St in Prov. which was a
              little off the beaten track. Hoever, the place itself
              was very nice. The room we wre given was larger than
              our studio apt. in Manhattan! And they serve a very
              nice breakfast.

              Unfortunately, Prov was as hot as NYC this past Sunday.
              Since we didn't have a car, we stayed pretty much on
              the East Side which has block after block of historice
              homes. We took the tour of John Brown's house which
              was very informtiver. We also spent about a 1 1/2 hurs
              in RISD museum. On Sunday, we ate at Steeples. Once
              again, my wife was the lucky one in ordering. I had
              the salmon which was on the bland side. Howeve, their
              desserts come from Pastiche in Federal Hill and the
              lemon mousse cake we had was exceelent, very light and
              ve flaveorful. Beause of the heat, we nver made it to
              Federal Hill itself which we would have liked to have
              seen.

              By the way, the trip from and to NYC on the Bonanza Bus
              line was a pleasure. Even though the ride was almost 4
              hours each wa, it felt mor elike two hours because it
              was so comfortable.

              If anyone has questions about going to Porv/Newport,
              pls feel free to write.

              Thanks again to all for your suggestions.

              Steve W.

          2. Check out B&B's in Bristol, RI - a short drive to
            Providence and right on the Bay. It's a quaint old
            town with lots of history.

            There are lots of reasonably-priced B&B's in the town, many in historic homes.