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Providence--leave your warm house in the snow? For what?

I will be in Providence with my wife and child for 36 hours. I am a professional chef with a background in fine dining--but I am really a beer drinking kitchen monkey at heart. I want to know what you would be willing to get up off of your couch, with a screaming hangover, in the snow, to go eat. I have quit jobs because I am tired of serving beautiful people-- do not send me trendy, so-so (i.e., polenta fries), culinarily arrogant suggestions please (and no 'we had a great tortilla soup when we went 3 years ago...'). From what I have read, it sounds as though one foray to cranston might be justified--and the crazy farm place that serves 2000 might be worth a WTF moment.

But here it is: when you are blue, and famished, and you don't care how hard it is to get--what MUST you have to eat in that area?

I thank you for being unreconstructed gluttons and sharing.

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  1. Gingerbread pancakes at Julian's (not for kids, these have a BITE). Oh, and the broccoli, swiss cheese & sweet potato hash there as well. perfect combo when you don't want to choose between sweet & savory for breakfast (or lunch come to think of it).

    By Cranston might you mean Mike's Kitchen at the VFW Hall? Polenta there would be on my list.

    Wright's Farm wouldn't make my list and I only live 15 minutes away. It's not bad by any means, but I just wouldn't put it into the category of must haves.

    1 Reply
    1. re: JaneRI


      Cranston seemed to come up a number of times in posts...

    2. unpretentious, delicious, and well priced food you are look for?? Mikes Kitchen in Cranston is a must try - the hours are a bit crazy so find out in advance when they are open (I believe they are closed on Saturdays???)

      Wrights Farm is an experience all right, Its not great but it just satisfys something inside you.....I must have it every few months!

      United BBQ in Providence is pretty good too.....I dont love the sauce but in temrs of smoke, rub, cook temp, portions, price they do BBQ well. If you are visiting I might even pick up some take out along with a bottle of your fav bbq sauce and feast back at the hotel or where ever you are staying.

      You are also going to want to visit Iggys in Warwick for some chowder, clamcakes, and fried seafood. If you have a nice day (weather wise) the kids will love the beace right next door.

      If you are in Providence and want a good pizza, and like thin crust, go to Nice SLice on Thayer St. My personal favorite pizza in RI. About $20 for a huge brooklyn style pie.

      Please be advised - none of these choices will be ch top picks, but they do RI well and match what you are looking for. Take care!

      1. Wright's Farm is always a great experience. Expect a long wait as a lot of people disagree with the other posters here.

        Another place I like is the Beef Barn in North Smithfield. Great roast beef sandwhiches. Forget Arby's.

        A few miles away from the Beef Barn is Wright's Farm Bakery. I have yet to dfind a better bakery and they have a working dairy farm where you can watch the cows being milked.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bigboy

          Thank you for setting me on to some good clues!

        2. Ditto,

          Feel the same way. Try Luxe burger. Your chilld will love it. Interesting array of beer's, soda's interesting burgers and its not bust out either. Its just a fun place.

            1. re: jim14th

              Here is the list I have compiled for the trip:

              Atwells: Piaxtla, Lili Marlene's, Roma, Bob & Timmy's, Angelo's
              Hope: Not Just Snacks, Rasoi, Aspara,
              Thayer: Byblos, Nice Slice, Via Via
              Elsewhere: Spike's, Red Fez, Chilango's, La Arepa, Sandwich Hut, Mike's Kitchen, Luxe Burger, Rick's Roadhouse

              1. re: jim14th

                That's an ambitious plan for 36 hours, even for an unreconstructed glutton.

                1. re: jim14th

                  I spent ten years eating and drinking my way through PVD and I wouldn't hit most of those places in a week, let alone 36 hours.

                  -Haven't been to Piaxtla
                  -Lili Marlene is a dark bar with a couple items. It's not get-off-the-couch grub.
                  -Roma is pretty good for lunch. I can see this one.
                  -Bob and Timmy's pizza is good, but PVD isn't much of a pizza city in general. Can be
                  -Angelo's is good for red sauce. I like their eggplant parm and they have pretty good soup. Very homestyle food.
                  -Not Just Snacks is okay for quick Indian with zero atmosphere.
                  -I've only had the vegan buffet at Rasoi, which is decent.
                  -Apsara on Hope can't touch the Apsara on Public St. Ghetto area, pretty ghetto inside.
                  -Byblos has acceptable falafel.
                  -Nice Slice and Via Via have good, thinner pizza, but it's definitely not a must.
                  -Spike's in fun. Not so Chowish, not a must, but kids like it and it's novel.
                  -Red Fez has great grilled cheese and makes big, strong drinks. Still, not a must.
                  -Haven't been to Chilango's or La Arepa, nor Sandwich Hut or Mike's, although Mike's was on my list. Based solely on hearsay, it's a must.
                  -Rick's wouldn't make the cut in a month, let alone a day and a half. I'm not a fan of John Elkhay in general, which is a pretty common consensus on these boards. Luxe is, like Spike's, fun for kids.

                  This would be my list:

                  Atwells area: Julian's or Nicks for brunch, Loie Fuller (same owner as Lili, beautiful space), I'd keep Roma or Angelo's but both are similar, Bombay Club for the best Indian in the city, easily.
                  Hope: Burgers and drinks at Ivy Tavern, Chez Pascal if you have time for some French bistro (normally regarded as the best joint in the city overall)
                  Thayer: Hmmm. I don't really consider anything a must on Thayer. Mostly cheaper, student-friendly places, but nothing even jumps out.
                  Elsewhere: Drinks at Local 121, Haruki East is generally know for excellent sushi, Caffe Itri in Cranston has a great winelist and low-key Italian, Garden Grill has pretty great veggie stuff, Modern Diner specials board.

                  EDIT: Apparently Roma has closed.

                  1. re: invinotheresverde

                    Depending on the day of the week you are here, you might be able to catch Chez Pascal's truck for lunch. The schedule changes but this week, they are out this week on Wednesday and Thursday. It will be cold so you would have to sit in your car or bring the food someplace to eat. It is fantastic food. It will be on North Main Street, near the corner of North Main Street and Smith Street. Near the Roger Williams Memorial Park (not the zoo park). They are there 11:30 - 2:30 weather permitting. They will also be at the Pawtucket Farmers Market this Saturday 11:00 - 2:00.

                    1. re: invinotheresverde

                      I agree with everything invinotheresverde writes. Please don't bother with Not Just Snacks, Via Via, Sandwich Hut and Rick's Roadhouse. Apsara is our neighborhood go-to place but the one on Public Street really is better.
                      We prefer East Side Pocket to Byblos—especially for falafel. But, again, for folks on a 36 hour visit to PRO, it's not really worth the effort to find parking on Thayer.

                      Enjoy your time in our funny little city!

                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                        invinotheresverde, gotta say, I rather dislike the use of "ghetto" when describing the original Apsara. I have a lot of experience in that area and if the you ghetto you refer to = lower income, hard-working folks who know how to eat really well, then so be it. This board was created in the spirit of discovering "ghetto" food, IMO. There's just a really negative connotation to that word that makes me bristle.

                        jim14th - Your agenda is pretty ambitious. Sounds like you want pizza (didn't look at your profile, so don't know where you coming from). Bob and Timmy's is pretty good for thin, wood grilled. If you are in the Thayer Street area, I'd take Nice Slice over Via Via.

                        I'd forget all John Elkhay places as ivtv recommends.

                        Mike's Kitchen rocks. Especially the polenta. Make sure you check the hours.

                        Ivy Tavern is forgettable.

                        Ama's might be too fancy with the kid in tow. Avery for an adult beverage...like-wise.

                        I love Julian's but I am biased since I live in the hood. Your child (how old) will go unnoticed since it's loud and there are plenty of distractions in there. Nick's is great for breakfast.

                        Down the street is Olneyville wieners.

                        AS220 for fun, cheap, and cheery Mexican.

                        1. re: digga

                          fyi- as220 no longer has mexican. the taqueria pacifica was evicted and ceased operation september 30th. very unfortunate.

                          1. re: pork_chop

                            Egads....Porkchop, do you know what the hell happened?! We haven't been in since early fall. Will they fire up the truck again?

                            1. re: digga

                              Technically, they were evicted for lack of rent payment- 3 days after the due date. It seems that the relationship between as220 and the taqueria had been strained for a long time and when the taqueria slipped up as220 seized their opportunity to get them out. I have friends on both sides and the whole thing was very ugly and unfortunate. No plans to bring back the truck or reopen somewhere else at this point, but hopefully that will change. I miss those tacos!

                          2. re: digga

                            I lived on Elmwood for 3 years. We had gunshot holes in our glass entrance. I assure you, I use the term with a familiar fondness.

                        2. re: jim14th

                          OMG I love Chilango's! I used to make my friends take me there everytime I made the trip down from Boston. They have the most amazing rolled enchiladas.

                      2. I agree with Angelos as well. I grew up at that place so to me that IS Italian food. As I have gotten older I find the sauce a bit bland but nothing that a healthy dose of cheese wont cure. Great place for some cheap eats too..... I rec the meatballs/ff side, the ravioli (i get a mix or both cheese and meat, the cavatti, the chix or veal parm with the homemade macaroni, and the mozz sticks are the best I have ever had anywhere.

                        1. People, let's keep with the original sentiment of this post. What restaurants would make me––a died-in-the-wool Rhode Islander––pass up the baked beans and brown bread and shovel my way out of a Nor'easter and walk (or drive, this is PVD after all) to get some real Alberta clipper fightin' comfort food?

                          Here's my list: Boiling pho from Pho Paradise, spicy ass ji-gae from Solomon's Market, mac and cheese at the Red Fez––to which any true storm stompin' southern-New Englander would add linguica––breakfast from Mi Ranchito, fish tacos from Taqueria Lupita, banh mi from Golden Fish, if I could find it––anything topped with an egg from Hewtin's Dogs, a can of crushed tomatoes and ravioli from Venda doesn't sound like a bad suggestion.

                          Who am I kidding––no food could drag a yankee from their house in a blizzard, but alcohol that's another story. What would be my iced-over watering hole? Again, the Red Fez, Lili Marlene's, Pawtucket's East Ave Cafe, Track 84 in Warwick, Nick-a-nee's, East Providence Yacht Club (it's not what you think), TOTT!!

                          4 Replies
                          1. re: localfood

                            Im not sure why you think we got off topic I think you are taking this too literally. But in any case, yes I would shovel myself out for a bowl of Pastine from Angelos as well as food choices from my above post and from others.

                            1. re: localfood

                              Where is Mi Ranchito?

                              East Ave Cafe would so get me to haul my butt out of the house in the snow, probably because it's a five minute walk! Plus, good cozy atmosphere during a snow storm!

                              1. re: GabachaYucateca

                                Mi Ranchito is on Westminster, just before Messer St. if you're heading away from downtown. Good for brunch!

                              2. re: localfood

                                Track 84, YES! And hopefully the sandwich junction next door would be open as well.

                              3. Long story short: I was compiling a list of contenders, and wanted to see where the days took us. The trip was kind of FUBAR, and therefore didn't get to do much of anything. Not just snacks was forgettable in a cool way. Red Fez decidedly cool, although glacially slow service times. I like your funky little city a lot--felt right at home. I would like to salute the passion on this board. RISD museum one of the best I have been to--not a lot of pretension there and a very cool expo on engravings--how they are done, how they evolved--not a lot of bettys and poindexters, either--of course, it was snowing. Cheers to all of you and Happy New Year. I'll look forward to a deeper understanding of the city the next time I am sprung from my cage. Awesome haircut and good laughs from Kerri at the Marriott spa.

                                1. Based on a recommendation from a foodie friend, when to Ristorante Pizzico on Hope Street in Providence on 02 January. A snowy Saturday evening ending the holiday week, the restaurant was not crowded but we had reservations in any event. Initially seated at a smallish 4 top, they gladly accommodated our request for a larger table.

                                  The service was knowledgeable about all the food, less so about the drinks, and nobody seemed to be in a hurry. The waiter recommendations were not to the more expensive items and requests were deftly handled. The three of us were pretty hungry and the waiter advised the portions are not small. Generally one can take that with a grain of salt but not so here. The portions were not excessive but generous.

                                  Bread was brought with a dish of nice quality oil. Both focaccia and crusty Italian were in the basket, both nice but neither exceptional. We started with the Calamari appetizer with a different spin on the RI hot pepper dish. This featured very tender fried calamari with thinly sliced hot peppers and black olives with a great marinara sauce. The bread helped to finish the marinara, leaving a very clean bowl! A very tasty appetizer.

                                  Three salads, one mixed, two Tiberio, Pizzico's version of Caesar, all nicely sized and presented with toasted bread, the toasting improved the Italian from nice to very good. I opted for the $2 addition of anchovies, wondering why I would pay 2 bucks. These were the anchovies you hope to get, flavor of the sea and good quality oil without the salt.

                                  The mains were the highpoint of the dinner. Basic capellini pomodoro included an added grilled chicken breast, pleasing my daughter whose taste is maturing. The Cioppino served with toasted bread (garlic if desired) was superb with plenty to share and bring home. The Tuscan Pork Chop was perfectly cooked with a combination of ingredients that all knew each other intimately. The side of grilled polenta was embarrassingly small but a comment to the waiter encouraged a few more pieces out of the kitchen.

                                  The wine list was nondescript and we drank by the glass in any event. A nice Hess cab and an S E Australian Chardonnay.

                                  Not cheap but not over the top expensive, Pizzico is worth a trip out in any weather.

                                  Ristorante Pizzico
                                  762 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: dbaublis

                                    Nice review-- glad your experience was good. I've had two mediocre/terrible experiences with Pizzico (one just all around unremarkable, the other involving a piece of fish frozen solid in the center). I'm not ready to try for three but always glad to hear other opinions!

                                    1. re: GSM

                                      I've had subpar experiences at Pizzico also. I'd make an exception and go back if they still had that amazing wine list, which they don't.

                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        Pizzico is a shell of what it used to be. The food is not good, the wine list is ordinary and boring, and the people are not so nice. I won't go back, nor would I recommend it.

                                  2. There are two things you do in Providence if you are a true beer drinking, belly scratching, football watching man. You go to Olneyville for some NY Systems weiners and you also go to Casserta's on Federal Hill. These are the staples of aProvidence and they didn't seem to even be mentioned. Shame on the other posters.

                                    4 Replies
                                    1. re: Timmuh

                                      I find hot dogs gross and Casserta's pizza revolting, so I didn't mention them. ;)

                                      1. re: invinotheresverde

                                        Hot dogs rock just the good ones. NOT Saugy's though. Hebrew National. Boars Head are excellent plus there some all natural ones not bad but they are salty. Weiners from Weinorama in Cranston Excellent Clean fresh most others not naming them forget it

                                        1. re: invinotheresverde

                                          I agree, my last pizza at Cassertas was a soggy mess.

                                          1. re: bigboy

                                            The pizza(if you can call it that) at Caserta's is just not good at all. However, the wimpy's and the pepper pigs are worth the trip.

                                      2. When your condition is still queasy but you are getting hungry, go to Apsara on Public Street. The noodle soups that they stop serving at 5PM are a good reason to get out for a late breakfast, lunch or early dinner. Ghetto? Who cares. They serve the best chow in the state.
                                        Pho Horn's menu is smaller but the food is as good or better, and their pho is best.