HOME > Chowhound > All New England Archive >


Going to Providence for the weekend

Any good suggestions? I've never been there-any price range, all kinds of food. I understand Italian food is wonderful in Providence so that as well. Thanks!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Oddly, I have no great Italian recs--I've never been blown away by any of the Italian I've had here, I think it must have been better in years past, or I've just missed the good ones. My most noteworthy recs:

    High-end: Chez Pascal, La Laiterie, and New Rivers. They're the big three in town, in my opinion. All three do varieties of what i guess you would call "new american" with chez p on leaning towards the french, n.r. a bit lighter and cleaner, and ll a bit more toward the comfort food end, with more flexible portion sizes (small plates etc). Gracie's is supposed to be great as well, but I've never been.

    Brunch: Nick's on Broadway, although they've slipped a bit from their pinnacle a couple years ago and the service is bordering on lousy these days.

    Mexican: El Rancho Grande or Chilangos are both terrific for sit-down meals, and there are quite a few worthwhile taquerias.

    1. I would like to second La Laiterie and Nick's.

      1. Al Forno is a great Italian restaurant in providence.

        If, however, you are interested in making a 10 minute drive try Trattoria Della Nonna in Mansfied Mass. It is by far the best Italian food I have eaten in the US. It is a gem hidden inside the small community of Mansfield.

        1 Reply
        1. re: agruel

          Well Mansfield is more like 30min from Providence unless you're driving really fast (I drive to that area regularly), but I agree that the Trattoria is excellent.
          Nick's is a great brunch idea, but service has been really slow lately. I recommend Gracie's if you want something high end. For cheap and good, definitely El Rancho Grande for Mexican. Actually I would probably pick them over Nick's for breakfast when you factor in the long lines and slow service at Nick's.
          I can't recommend La Laiterie enough. Their burgers are phenomenal. It's a smaller and more intimitate setting.
          If you want to go the Italian route, Isabella's in Smithfield is good enough for my picky Italian family to travel 25min to get to - it's about 15min from downtown Providence. If you want to stay in Providence, go to Al Forno.

        2. Since people are recommending short drives, I'll throw in the Back Eddy in Westport, Mass. Outstanding seafood, great casual atmosphere, and the best sunsets on the East Coast.


          Another good brunch spot in Prov. is Rue de L'Espoir, on Hope St. (well duh, the Francophones say).

          I'm also a big fan of Al Forno. Everything is sized for sharing -- the famous grilled pizzas, the luscious pastas, dirty steak (if they have it, it's great), spicy roasted clams, made to order desserts, etc. Good wine list too.

          1. If you're going for Italian, go to Federal Hill...the Old Cantine makes a mean manicotti. They also have some great bakeries...Pastiche is french but absolutely wonderful. There's also a couple of mexican places around there.

            1. Strangely, I doubt any of these recomendations are from Providence folk. If you want great food in PVD, you go to Chez Pascal, New Rivers, Gracie's, Siena and perhaps Pane e Vino. There are plenty of other options, but if you want the best of what our fine city has to offer, you go to one of these spots. The end.

              11 Replies
              1. re: invinotheresverde

                I second with all your suggestions. All great choices. There is no reason to leave Providence with so many wonderful options.

                1. re: Bluebird

                  Particular preference for Chez Pascal and New Rivers. If you really want quality Italian in PVD then yes it should be Siena. But noise level there kinda ruins the evening.

                2. re: invinotheresverde

                  That's a bizarre thing to say, given that our lists overlap significantly.

                  1. re: celeriac

                    I meant to exclude your post. Sorry, it was late at night and I'd, er, partaken in a few adult beverages... :)

                    1. re: celeriac

                      That is a truly bizarre thing to say. Because people offer additional suggestions outside of Providence, which is very busy on the weekends and you will have to wait longer for a table, then they aren't from Providence?

                      1. re: Jenz

                        Sorry, the OP said "going to Providence for the weekend". I'm not going to send him to Mansfield, etc. when he's only here for two days. Providence has some fantastic restaurants- why send him elsewhere if he's only here for such a short time?

                        The dig on people not living here? Mostly meant for the people suggesting places like Al Forno. Hi, let's just recomend the most "famous" restaurant in the city. I mean, the food there is fine, but the best Providence has to offer? Not anymore. Same goes for recomendations like Old Canteen, Rue and Back Eddy. As 'Hounds, we can do so much better than that.

                        Anyplace you go on the weekends is going to be busy. Would I forsake a (crowded) sumptuous Chez Pascal dinner and to go an empty place, like Olives, just to avoid a wait? Not even a consideration.

                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                          I didn't recommend Mansfield. I merely commented on the fact that restaurant in question was further than 10min and very good. I gave serveral options, including one you apparently deemed an acceptable recommendation, as well as one just a few minutes outside of town in case the OP wanted additional options if they had issues getting reservations.
                          And Al Forno gets repeated recommendations on this board because it's a good restaurant. Still not understanding why that indicates someone isn't from this area.

                          1. re: Jenz

                            There is a long-standing anti-Al Forno bias on Chowhound. I know other boards have similar situations. It's a reverse snobbery that is quite annoying. "Oooh, that place is famous, surely it can't be good anymore!"

                            The end. 8<D

                            1. re: Jenz

                              Because it's the "easiest" recomendation, and one you don't have to be from PVD to know about. None of my (PVD) circle eats at Al Forno anymore. The first place out of town guests want to visit? Yep. Because they've heard of it.

                              I said "Mansfield, etc", regarding places outside the city in general.

                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                So because your crowd doesn't eat there, that means other people in the area must also avoid it? My PVD crowd has eaten at Al Forno for years - we consider it a reliable standby

                                I recommended La Laiterie, which is relatively unknown still, as well as Al Forno. Does that make me a local or not?
                                Geez. Restaurant opinion is all about personal taste. That's the beauty of having so many great restaurants to try. But it's silly to assume people aren't familiar with, or live outside of, an area because they happen to recommend a restaurant you think is an easy out as well as demonstrate they eat in areas outside of Providence proper.

                                1. re: Jenz

                                  You're entitled to your opinion. Please keep going to Al Forno; it'll free up another table at a good restaurant.

                    2. Hi! Siena really isn't "italian" if you are looking for sort of the authentic, old-school italian food. Camille's is wonderful for italian.... but Siena is a good option non-the-less. Quite noisy though. What about Cafe Nuovo?? If the weekend is a "waterfire weekend"...are they doing them this year??... if so, you could have a wonderul dinner -Nice location, have always have great food. Good atmosphere too. Pane e Vino I am 0 for 2 on.

                      1. If you want to see some of the delicious food around here, I started a Flickr group for RI food photos (mostly tend to be Providence): http://flickr.com/groups/rifood/pool/

                        I'm a visual person, so it's a good way to pick a restaurant.

                        Otherwise, I second all the other suggestions :)

                        1. Don't overlook The Blue Grotto for Italian. Good traditional italian along with some creative twists as well. It seems to be rebounding nicely. Camille's also does a great job with traditional and contemporary, but at a higher cost. Non Italian, I would agree with Chez Pascal, Gracies, Nick's.