HOME > Chowhound > Southern New England >


Rhode Island Food

  • c

OK this is a list of my favorite Unique Rhode Island (southern New england) specialities. Please add yours or comment on mine. I would also appreciate any posts from unique foods in or around Hartford. The list is in no particular order. Post any interesting stuff your town or area is known for. Basically, I am looking for a reason to visit your town and try your best unique specialty.

1. Dell's Lemonade
2. Rhode Island Clam Chowder
3. Coffee Milk
4. NY System Weiners
5. Cold Pizza Strips (Bakery Style)
6. Casertas Pizza
7. clam boils w/chourico, hot dogs, buckwurst, potatoes and onions
8. saugy's
9. clam cakes (My favorite is Aunt Carrie's)
10. chourico and Peppers sandwiches

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Where is the best place to go for NY system hot dogs?

    You left off Sciola Bros. Bakery on Atwells Ave....Yum.

    Agree with you on Aunt Carries.

    I could give you a good list for Chicago but it is out of the New England area.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jon

      I've only tried three, which means I should probably get out more:

      Olneyville NY System (18 Harford Avenue, Olneyville section of Providence)
      Sam's New York System (1301 Mineral Spring Ave, North Providence)
      WienORama (1009 Oaklawn, Cranston)

      I've listed them in order. Olneyville is best for flavor, service, atmosphere, and "banter," to say nothing of a great, great neon sign.

      Sam's NY is a kinder, gentler place. Bright an airy. To me, the weiners are on par with Olneyville NY Systems'.

      I've tried WienORama only once. Any restarant with "ORama" in the name wins points for attitude in my book. They back it up with a fine street-side neon sign, as well. The Weiners had a bit too much mustard for me, but they will fine-tune that on my next visit, I am sure.

      1. re: jon
        Chris in Hartford

        I always liked Nick's New York System
        280 Cowesett Ave, West Warwick, RI
        (401) 823-5220.

        The only place I did not like them was in Olneyville at the famous place. I convinced my wife to try one and I figured I would bring her to the place that made them famous. The meat was obnoxiously flavored (maybe just that day).

        PS I would appreciate the list from Chicago. You never know where life will take you.

        1. re: jon

          Our go-to weiner joint has always been the NY System on Smith St just past the State House. Neighborhood is sketchy during prime weiner eating hours (i.e. late night) but the weiners and atmosphere are top-notch. Last time we were there there was a guy with rivets in his ears. This being Mrs. W.'s first NY System weiner experience, I thought that was a fine added bonus.

          Being a Pawtucket boy I don't have much experience with the weiner joints to the south of Providence but I serendipitously found Wein-o-Rama on Oaklawn Ave in Cvaaanston last year and it is a chowhound place for sure.

        2. Grilled pizza has become synonimous with RI since a; forno popularized it.
          RI style calamari
          Olga's cup n saucer, especially the pizza

          1. Has anyone been to the Italian place in RI ( I think cranston) that is in a VFW Hall. Mike's or something like that??? I have read about it many times but don't know if it is worth the drive. If you have been let us know where, what is good or if it is not good. Also is it bYOB????TIA

            3 Replies
            1. re: emilief

              Mike's Kitchen in Cranston..that's correct. Most excellent. Last time I was there, you could buy alcohol from the VFW people and bring it back over to the Mike's side. Great fun (don't miss out on the polenta smothered with marinara sauce). Check out the hours first before making the trip.

              Link: http://www.roadfood.com/Reviews/Overv...

              1. re: emilief

                YES YES YES! Worth the drive! Mike's Kitchen. Food's excellent, mostly old school red sauce Italian but perfectly done.

                1. re: Jane

                  Yes...great...but remember, take cash, they dont take credit cards

              2. Most people have already mentioned the biggies, so I'll add:

                - The Creperie off Thayer at 1 AM...
                - Haven Brothers at any time later...

                - Garris
                Providence, RI

                2 Replies
                1. re: Garris

                  The most obvious omission to me so far is the humble but uniquely RI johnny cake. Although not one of my favorites, stuffed clams "stuffies" are pretty RI or at least southern NE. RI has a unique way of making baked stuffed shrimp, simple cracker stuffing, that is ubiquitous state-wide. And I'm embarrassed to say that one of my favorite "must haves" when I'm back in RI is to stop in at a D'Angelos for what I think are the best steak & cheese grinders anywhere.

                  1. re: Chesapeake72000

                    I've been a D'Angelos fan for -- shudder -- 30 years. As soon as I got my driver's license one of my first outings was to a D'Angelos in Seekonk for the only thing I've ever ordered there: A Number 9 Pokket (steak with peppers, mushrooms, onions, and cheese).

                2. My favorite Rhode Island website:

                  Link: http://www.quahog.org/

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: RC51Mike

                    Dittos. I tried posting a link to Quahog.com a few weeks back but it was removed for reasons never explained.

                    Quahog has excellent lists of sources for weiners, pizza strips, clam chowder, etc. complete with reviews in many cases.

                    You can also read my Blizzard of '78 story on there.

                  2. wright's dairy farm- no smithfield pastries/milk
                    venda ravioli! federal hill

                    1. Perhaps I am not exactly in synch with your post but Mary's restaurant in Misquamicut right opposite the beach is a fine place to refresh at their bar before a look at the menu displaying fine and unique italian choices. We've dined there many times and never failed to find a truely flavorful and different preparation. The worst thing about it is that they close off season and twice we just managed to "sneek" in a last meal the night before season's end. More relaxed perhaps is Captain Jack's on the road to Snug Harbor. A number of really spicy and flavorful treatments for scungili usually catch my eye (and stomach) but the list runs the gamut. Wines are not the strong point but you may be able to find something light. And don't fail to try the RI clear chowder if you haven't already fallen for it.

                      2 Replies
                      1. re: feelinpeckish

                        We've eaten at Mary's twice and found the clams with pasta to be right on. You pay, but the plate is enormous. ok wine list.

                        1. re: Marco

                          Yum. I had the clams with pasta there too. And the dish was great!

                      2. I'm shocked no one has mentioned the wonderful elixir that is Narragansett Beer.

                        Also, I've always dealt with RI people saying how good Saugy's are, but when I finally sampled some, they tastes the same as one of Boston's own Kayem Old Timers

                        1. I'll be in R.I. at the end of the month and would like to know where I can buy buckwurst. It is a favorite food from my childhood and I would like to bring some back to Florida with me. Haven't been "home" in almost twenty years so I'm no longer familiar with area stores. I've enjoyed a bit of nostalgia reading through the posts and am really looking forward to eating great seafood...quohogs, clam cakes, chowder, lobster..the list goes on. I plan to eat my way through my eight day visit.

                          1. Love that fried calamari with garlic butter and hot peppers! I'll take it from Iggy's, on a picnic bench, chased with some fried doughboys.

                            1. OK. Here is my list for the best of Rhode Island. I have lived here my entire life and have tried ALOT of wiener joints, diners, and seafood eateries.

                              Wieners - Sams on Mineral Spring Ave, North Providence
                              Clam cakes and chowder - Cap'n Jacks in East Matunuck.
                              Ice Cream - Inside Scoop on Ten Rod Rd., North Kingstown.
                              Cheeseburgers and fries - Iggy's
                              Summer time drink- DELS... duh.
                              Pizza - Tony's Pizza Palace on Kingstown Rd., South Kingstown
                              Diner - Modern Diner in Pawtucket.
                              Sandwiches- Jersey Mike's on Mineral Spring, North Providence.
                              Cheesecake - Felicia's, East Greenwhich.
                              Smoothies - Crazy Burger on Boon st., Narragansett

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: ajp1886

                                Northern R.I. Family Style Chicken.. Wrights Farm

                                1. re: ajp1886

                                  What style of pizza is Tony's Pizza Palace?

                                  1. re: ajp1886

                                    the thiings on here are nice but Dels, It has a chemical taste.

                                  2. Someone needs to throw in a mention of the steak sandwiches at Chelo's....so I'll do it.

                                    5 Replies
                                    1. re: Bob W

                                      What about Kay's? I don't eat steak sandwiches myself (the thought of lurking fat or gristle freaks me out) but most people in northern RI claim these are the best.

                                      1. re: JaneRI

                                        I used to work in WoonsocKET, and I loved, loved Kay's. This was in the early 90s.

                                        I think Wright's Farm is overrated. Kind of gross. I once had to have one of those Charlie Babbitt/Rain Man outbursts (think K-Mart) at my in-laws, about Wright's Farm not being All That.

                                        1. re: Moonpie1

                                          I agree that Crazy Burger has the best smoothies by far
                                          Pizza - Junction Pizzeria in NK
                                          Burgers and fries - The Galley in Narragansett

                                          1. re: Moonpie1

                                            I love Kay's too.. I was just naming one of many place's up in northern R.I. where they have family style chicken.. Village Haven, Bocce club, Christofers... on and on... lol

                                            1. re: Moonpie1

                                              Worked in Woony.....it wouldn't happen to have been at a certain behometh of a drugstore chain, would it?

                                        2. The best Weiners are at Rod's Grill on Washington Street, Warren, RI. As far as who makes the best Chourico and Peppers Sandwiches...That would be...Me. I make the best; the 'old world' style (with chourico and onions slowly cooked in olive oil, green peppers and sauce. It is the most delicious sandwich you have ever, or will ever have.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. I just finished a RI Travel Guide (mainly food based!), that is a bit too large to post here (see link below).

                                            However, for the purposes of your post I'd say Palmieri's in Johnston has the best pizza stips by far! My favorite are their "old fashions" which are absolutely delicious (if you love garlic). Plus their other bakery items are really good as well. Spinach pies, bruscetta, etc.

                                            Another "local" place is that unique to the area is Hartley's Pork Pies in Lincoln (871 Smithfield Ave). I believe the original was in Fall River as I recall, but the place is Lincoln is awesome! Make sure to show up early though they sell out pretty quickly...and don't plan to eat-in (it's take out only)!

                                            Also, can anyone clear up what a Cabinet actually is? It's a milkshake as I understand it, but what does that make a milkshake?


                                            RI Unique Foods Travel Guide: http://gourmand4life.com/2011/02/rhod...

                                            9 Replies
                                            1. re: ezra9876

                                              A cabinet is the equivalent of a frappe.....milk, flavored syrup & ice cream in the blender. A milkshake is milk & syrup in the blender w/no ice cream.

                                              1. re: JaneRI

                                                I guess it's the syrup part that confuses me....is it only coffee milk syrup or chocolate syrup, or are their specialty syrups made for the purpose?

                                                Thanks for the clarification!

                                                1. re: ezra9876

                                                  Just regular flavored syrup, such as Eclipse or Autocrat coffee syrup.

                                              2. re: ezra9876

                                                You need to mention snail salad and grapenut custard pudding too -- you can get both, along with great pizza (similar to Caserta's) at Twin's Pizza in North Prov. (Order the pizza well done.)

                                                Oh one more thing, RI used to have several Jewish bakeries that made a type of rye bread known as sissel bread. I read once that many old-country bakers that made this type of bread settled in RI. One bakery that still makes sissel bread is Rainbow Bakery in Cranston. I have not been there yet, but from all I have read their sissel bread is great!

                                                Twin's Pizza
                                                1000 Mineral Spring Ave, North Providence, RI 02904

                                                1. re: Bob W

                                                  I've had Grapenut pudding all over NE. Not just a RI thing. ;)

                                                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                    Yeah, I figured some wisenheimer would say that. 8<D I've seen coffee syrup at supermarkets in Boston, too.

                                                    We got Del's Lemonade at Dutch Wonderland in Lancaster PA last year -- right in the heart of water ice country. Worlds are colliding! (As George Costanza would say)

                                                    1. re: Bob W

                                                      My Dad used to call me a wisenheiner when I was little. Love it!

                                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                        My dad called me that too, when in fact he was the wisenheimer in the fam!

                                                  2. re: Bob W

                                                    Hey Hey, Bob...you just made me remember old Willard Avenue...My Grandfather would take me down there all the time when he went to buy groceries. Also, after kids' art class on Saturday morning at RISD, my Father would pick me up and send me into one of those bakeries on Willard Avenue (while he doubled parked) to buy rye bread, but, again...perhaps another R.I. term like cabinet?...it was called cornbread. (We are talking about 1954-1955, somewhere in there...the days when everybody's PARENTS went to Middle Street Steakhouse on Saturday nights, but never took kids).

                                                2. My pick for RI best:

                                                  1. Dell's Lemonade
                                                  2. Rhode Island Clam Chowder (excellent New England style is a runner up at The Crows Nest in Warwick)
                                                  3. Coffee Milk
                                                  4. NY System Weiners - Wein-O-Rama is clearly #1
                                                  5. Pizza - Island Pizza in East Greenwich (never did understand bakery strip pizza - IMO really terrible) - Can't beat typical CT style pizza, but still excellent
                                                  6. any weekend breakfast special at Modern Diner in Pawtucket (omelets, pancakes, waffles, etc) (Johney cakes at Jiggers in East Greenwich are excellent, but not an item I'd have too often)
                                                  7. clam boils w/chourico - Champlins #1
                                                  8. any fried seafood at Buttonwood Fish & Chips - Warwick (#1 fresh cut fries and onion rings vs. anywhere plus outstanding fish sandwich, whole bellies & scallops)
                                                  9. Dynamites - best are at either Buttonwood Fish & Chips in Warwick (occasional special) and at the annual Autumnfest in Woonsocket
                                                  10. Chicken dinners at Wrights

                                                  NY System Restaurant
                                                  18 Plainfield St, Providence, RI 02909

                                                  1009 Oaklawn Ave, Cranston, RI 02920

                                                  Island Pizza
                                                  2554 S County Trl, East Greenwich, RI 02818

                                                  Modern Diner
                                                  364 East Ave, Pawtucket, RI 02860

                                                  Buttonwood Fish & Chips
                                                  416 Buttonwoods Ave, Warwick, RI 02886

                                                  18 Replies
                                                  1. re: Clams047

                                                    Is it just me, or are jonnycakes better suited for a museum of RI foods? We all grew up learning about the grist mills, blah blah blah, but really, how often can you eat jonnycakes? Or want to?

                                                    Was that sacrilege? LOL

                                                    1. re: Bob W

                                                      I eat them for breakfast, probably about once a month. Sometimes with chopped cranberries in them. Always with maple syrup.

                                                      1. re: thinks too much

                                                        thinks too much, do you order the johnnycakes in a restaurant or prepare yourself?

                                                      2. re: Bob W

                                                        I gotta say I love johnny cakes, we make them once a month or so. Made some for a group of 12 friends one trip to NH and they all raved about them too. 10x better than pancakes!

                                                      3. re: Clams047

                                                        Interesting...I didn't know Buttonwoods did dynamites....I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's because the owners are northern RIers. Otherwise you'd never hear of dynamites south of Lincoln.

                                                        Bob, I happen to love jonnycakes.....a lazy way to approximate them is to use Jiffy cornbread mix....the pancake recipe is on the side of the box.

                                                        1. re: JaneRI

                                                          It's funny, I've lived in RI for 10 years now and had never heard of Dynamites until last year. Granted, I live in Cranston, but isn't it funny that in a state this size there would be SUB regional cuisine!

                                                          Still never had one, but I think I'll remedy that this weekend. SO, if one were to go on Dynamite Crawl....where would you go?

                                                          Thanks as always!

                                                          1. re: ezra9876

                                                            I never heard of dynamites and I grew up in Pawt...we never knew there was any reason to make the "long" drive to Woony.

                                                            1. re: ezra9876

                                                              A dynamite crawl isn't really something we'd do. Not sure who even serves them - I'd start with Bois on Providence St in Woonsocket.....I recall the former owner had a plaque on a stand that said (I'm not making this up) that he was a member of the Dynamite Advisory Board. And I know the current owner has kept his recipes.

                                                              Dynamites are really more home-food, for potlucks & cookouts. Or low-end fundraisers (ie, $10 for beer & dynamites at an Elks hall).

                                                              1. re: JaneRI

                                                                If anyone is interested I found an article on projo about the Dynamite sandwich: http://www.projo.com/food/content/fd-...

                                                                It's a couple years old, but it says you can still get them at the Castle Luncheonette on Social Street. (or at least you could in 2007!).

                                                                Castle Luncheonette
                                                                420 Social St, Woonsocket, RI 02895

                                                                1. re: JaneRI

                                                                  Our crawl ended at our first stop! We headed to Castle Luncheonette in Woonsocket (420 social street) and had a really great meal. The prices were excellent and all the food was fresh and well prepared.

                                                                  The Dynamite was really good! Not as spicy as I thought it would be, but it was quite tasty. My bride had an excellent burger (their fries are excellent!). They make their own baked beans, and they had several soup options which all sounded good. We tried the seafood chowder and were very happy with it. Because I'm a glutton, I also had a stuffie (to go with the soup & the dynamite) which was quite large, inexpensive, and really quite good (if a bit "bready").

                                                                  Our waitress was also a lot of fun.

                                                                  Castle Luncheonette
                                                                  420 Social St, Woonsocket, RI 02895

                                                                  1. re: ezra9876

                                                                    The Castle has always been known for awesome french fries, going back to my early childhood even.

                                                                    Give Bois on Providence St a try. Just open for breakfast & lunch. Tell Herve that Jane sent you. BEST pancakes.

                                                                    1. re: JaneRI

                                                                      I may try Bois for breakfast tomorrow...

                                                                    2. re: ezra9876

                                                                      I used to go there when I was a child! Dynamites are great and I loved their meatball sandwiches. Is the castle still there?

                                                                  2. re: ezra9876

                                                                    This is beyond incredible -- I was up in the small town of Oakland, ME this past weekend with brothers Orson W. and Lurker W. We were having breakfast at a great local spot called The Early Bird. We looked at the specials board and saw Dynamites! So we asked the server what they were and based on her description, yeppers, real Woonsocket Dynamites!

                                                                  3. re: JaneRI

                                                                    I LOVE jonnycakes and would eat them every day if I could... the thin, crispy kind... with maple syrup...YUM.

                                                                    Someone please tell me what the heck a "dynamite" is... never heard of them in South County... sounds explosive and dangerous ;)

                                                                    1. re: coastalgypsy

                                                                      According to Quahog.org, "Dynamites: Fried hamburger, peppers, onions, tomato sauce, and crushed red pepper, served on a torpedo roll. Like a sloppy Joe on crack."

                                                                2. Ritacco's Market makes a really good sausage grinder. It's at 84 Oak Street, Westerly, RI 02891-1737. My friend used to buy their sausage and take it home to CT.

                                                                  1. Ri Nostalgia - anybody know where the owners and cooks of the old Archies in Pawtucket went? My parents loved that place, went there often as a kid. I dont know how much of a foodie place it was but I loved the cinnamon bun appetizers!

                                                                    1 Reply
                                                                    1. re: joe777cool

                                                                      Wow no plugs for the Awful Awful at Newport Creamery? milk shake like but made with ice milk and syrup. Then there's the ... Awful Awful with Jimmies!

                                                                      Kale Soup
                                                                      Malasadas - dough boy like
                                                                      Bolos - english muffin like

                                                                      grays for ice cream - tiverton
                                                                      evelyns for clams - tiverton
                                                                      gregs (small chain) for pie and cake
                                                                      the mooring in newport - scallop chowder and lobster baggadonuts (like fritters/clamcakes)

                                                                    2. My only experience with RI food is in Providence in Little Italy over the bridge that I've walked to many times.
                                                                      The deli's there are worth me moving there.
                                                                      Honestly, so good.

                                                                      Little Italy
                                                                      294 Cabot St, Beverly, MA 01915

                                                                      1. TF green airport should have a taste of all of these great representations of unique R.I. dishes!