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Top Ten Restaurants in RI

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Many friends when visiting RI ask me where they should dine. So here you go. My top ten list in RI plus a few others(in no particular order).

Chez Pascal
New Rivers
Castle Hill
Bouchard
Al Forno
Gracie's
10 Steak and Sushi
Capital Grille
Mill's Tavern
Local 121

The interesting thing about this list is that tourists alwats want to venture to Atwells Ave and not one restaurant from the Hill has made this list. Many good options there but none good enough to be on any top ten list.

Best Burger: Paragon
Best Pizza: Al Forno
Best "Old School" Italian American: Old Canteen
Best Casual French: Loie Fuller
Best Fries: Tini

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  1. um, I don't see Haven Bros. on your list.

    13 Replies
    1. re: trufflehound

      how could i forget. i love haven bros.

      1. re: foodjunkie1991

        On a decidedly downscale note...

        Wein-o-rama
        Del's
        George's
        Aunt Carries
        Wes'

        -----
        Wein-O-Rama
        1009 Oaklawn Ave, Cranston, RI 02920

        George's of Galilee
        250 Sand Hill Cove Rd, Narragansett, RI 02882

        Aunt Carrie's Restaurant
        1240 Ocean Rd, Narragansett, RI 02882

        Wes' Rib House
        38 Dike St, Providence, RI 02909

        1. re: okra

          Wein-o-Rama is a classic. It's been featured in a Zippy the Pinhead strip (as has the Modern Diner, BTW). The 1962 "Googie" sign is a hoot.

          okra, how do you think Iggy's compares to Aunt Carrie's and George's?

          -----
          Modern Diner
          364 East Ave, Pawtucket, RI 02860

          Aunt Carrie's Restaurant
          1240 Ocean Rd, Narragansett, RI 02882

          1. re: Bob W

            Bob, I have not eaten at Iggys... OK, I ate at Iggy Palmasano's near URI, but that was cough cough years ago....

            your opinion?

            1. re: okra

              I tried Iggy's at Oakland Beach a couple years ago. I don't get up to RI too often and I was really craving clamcakes so as soon as I got my car (since I was feeling very "Vo Dylan" I got a white Mustang LOL) at the airport I drove over. With online coupon in hand I stupidly ordered a dozen.

              The first few tasted awesome, then I hit the inevitable wall and had to quit at ten. Why oh why didn't I just get a half-dozen and some chowder? LOL

              The verdict: Excellent clamcakes (at least when they are fresh and hot, like mine were), but it's been so long since I've been to George's or Aunt Carrie's that it would be unfair for me to compare. I would definitely give Iggy's a try. Supposedly the doughboys are really good too.

              Clamcakes would make a great Man v Food challenge for Mark Richman. They must expand to 3x their original size once they hit your stomach.

            2. re: Bob W

              I think Zippy the Pinhead strip was referring to Olneyville...
              http://www.quahog.org/cuisine/index.p...

              1. re: Td61

                LOL Zippy has been to both places. Check out this awesome web site.

                http://www.61thriftpower.com/diners.s...

                1. re: Bob W

                  WOW AWESOME link!!!
                  Thanks!

            3. re: okra

              Wes's is the worst bbq in the state. There are 3-4 places within 5 miles of Wes's that are 20x better, honestly I'd go to Chile's first.

              1. re: joe777cool

                Please elaborate? I would love to learn...

                1. re: okra

                  http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/7131...

                  Food qualtiy, consistency, smoke/rub/sauce, service - not many good things to say about Wes's. Cornbread is good..... after that im at a loss.

                  1. re: joe777cool

                    Thanks for your opinion.

                    1. re: okra

                      FWIW, it is one shared by most who have experience with real bbq, including the majority of posters on this board.

        2. Nice list Agree with 75% of them
          Pascal --never been hear all nice things about it
          New Rivers --Good
          Castle Hill --Excellent
          Bouchard--Excellent
          Al Forno-- Na
          Gracies--Excellent
          10 Sushi--NA
          Capitol Grill-- give me 30 min with a 10 year old kid and he or she can flip a steak
          Mills-- long time ago was good have not been there in a while
          Local 21-- again never been but heard all nice things.
          and no ne mentioned Weiner Rama

          1. I would agree with most of these (in an admittedly Providence-centric list), but with some modifications:

            Chez Pascal - Yes
            New Rivers - Yes
            Castle Hill - Yes
            Bouchard - Haven't been
            Al Forno - Not in the top 10 in my visits...
            Gracie's - Yes
            10 Steak and Sushi - I'm a big fan, but top 10? Not sure...
            Capital Grille - Definitely not in my visits...
            Mill's Tavern - A case can be made, yes...
            Local 121 - Again, a big fan, but top 10? In decor yes, but food is hit and miss...

            I would replace 10 Steak and Sushi with Siena on Federal Hill, and Local 121 with Loie Fuller, where I've had some really outstanding meals.

            And I know this may be controversial, but I've had some dishes at the mid-range Rasoi (Indian-fusion) that are among the tastiest and most creative I've had anywhere.

            As for your other categories:

            Best Burger: Paragon - Wow, everything I've ever had at Paragon is absolutely mediocre. Perhaps the biggest letdown of any restaurant in the entire city. I tell people to avoid at all costs...

            Best Pizza: Al Forno - Possibly... No RI pizza has blown me away except for the late, lamented Park Ave Cafe in Cranston...

            Best "Old School" Italian American: Old Canteen - Maybe... As someone who grew up in an Italian heavy area in NY's Hudson Valley, I think all of the red sauce places I've had here have been middling at best...

            Best Casual French: Loie Fuller - No issues here
            Best Fries: Tini - Absolutely in the running... I'm a fan of Red Stripe's in Wayland Sq.

            My $0.02.

            -----
            Chez Pascal Restaurant
            960 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906

            Local 121
            121 Washington St, Providence, RI 02903

            Red Stripe
            465 Angell St, Providence, RI 02906

            Rasoi Restaurant
            855 Worcester Rd Ste 24, Framingham, MA 01701

            Capital Grille
            1 Union Sta Ste 1, Providence, RI 02903

            Old Canteen
            120 Atwells Ave, Providence, RI 02903

            4 Replies
            1. re: Garris

              Garris, have you tried Twin's Pizza in North Prov.? My brother and I hit it last year and were very impressed. Similar style to Caserta's, but the menu is broader and includes RI favorites like snail salad, grapenut custard pudding, and "a side of peppiz." 8<D

              Also, I cannot believe that the food at the Old Canteen could be nearly as good as what Mike's is turning out. I have fond memories of birthday parties at the Old Canteen but you can't eat memories, as many of us find out when we revisit old favorites.

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

              Old Canteen
              120 Atwells Ave, Providence, RI 02903

              1. re: Garris

                Agreed, Local 121 needs to come off that list. The food is spotty at best, inedible at worst. I'd probably put it on my Top Ten places to enjoy a cocktail or two, though.

                -----
                Local 121
                121 Washington St, Providence, RI 02903

                1. re: invinotheresverde

                  Thanks for the heads up on 121. Only place I will hit is Gracies in the city.

                  1. re: Frank Terranova

                    No Chez Pascal? You're missing out.

                    -----
                    Chez Pascal Restaurant
                    960 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906

              2. I think a great "Old School" Italian joint is Mike's Kitchen in Cranston. I know it's not in Providence proper, but it's so close! Best chicken parm of my life, plus a fun atmosphere and I like taking out of towners there because it makes me look like I'm really "in the know."

                -----
                Mike's Kitchen
                170 Randall St, Cranston, RI 02920

                2 Replies
                1. re: thegreenfish

                  I LOVE Mike's Kitchen. Polenta is the best I've ever had.

                  -----
                  Mike's Kitchen
                  170 Randall St, Cranston, RI 02920

                  1. re: JaneRI

                    Two years ago my brother Lurker W and I made the mistake of having lunch at Mike's and then having supper at Chez Pascal that night. After the outstanding home cooking at Mike's -- including the polenta! -- my stomach was simply not ready for the wonderful food at CP. I was very upset.

                    -----
                    Chez Pascal Restaurant
                    960 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906

                2. I think Siena on Atwells easily beats Cap Grille, Al Forno and Bouchard. Maybe not the Bouchard of 10-12 yrs ago, but the Bouchard of today. I haven't been in years but was never impressed by 10. Overrated IMO.

                  1. You need some breakfast on the list!

                    Modern Diner
                    Nick's on Broadway

                    For a nice taste of the East Side, Rufful's in Wayland Sq.

                    -----
                    Rufful's Restaurant
                    208 Wayland Ave, Providence, RI 02906

                    Modern Diner
                    364 East Ave, Pawtucket, RI 02860

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Bob W

                      There is only one place for breakfast in Providence and that is at the Liberty Elm on Elmwood Ave.

                      -----
                      Liberty Elm
                      , Providence, RI 02903

                      1. re: Bob W

                        rufful's is awful

                        1. re: malyna

                          I'm curious why you say that. Can you expand on your review a bit?

                          1. re: malyna

                            Rufful's certainly isn't awful... It's a very basic, inexpensive, longstanding greasy spoon for breakfast for the neighborhood... Nothing more, nothing less... Definitely not a "destination" restaurant like Nick's or the Modern. It is what it is...

                            As for the Liberty Elm, I so *badly* want to love it, but can't, at least not yet. The setting is great, but the food is *very* average. Nothing bad, but at least two notches down from the Modern, Nick's, Julian's et al. A great experience, but not yet a great meal. It's kind of to South Providence what Ruffles is to Wayland Sq...

                            I forgot to give a shout out to Ebisu in my own first post here... Also some of the most creative, tasty dishes I've had here...

                            -----
                            Ebisu Restaurant
                            Providence, RI, Providence, RI

                            Rufful's Restaurant
                            208 Wayland Ave, Providence, RI 02906

                            Liberty Elm
                            , Providence, RI 02903

                        2. Here's my best attempt.

                          Persimmon
                          Gracie's
                          New Rivers
                          Chez Pascal
                          San Vivaldo Trattoria
                          Siena
                          Castle Hill
                          Loie Fuller

                          These are the only 8 that really stand out to me right now.

                          Best Burger: Pour Judgment or Luxe
                          Best Fries: I've got a soft spot for Wright's Farm
                          Best Pizza: Bob and Timmy's
                          Best Clam Cakes: Champlain's
                          Best Weiners: Wein-o-Rama

                          -----
                          Chez Pascal Restaurant
                          960 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906

                          Wright's Farm Restaurant
                          84 Inman Rd, Harrisville, RI 02830

                          San Vivaldo Trattoria
                          570 Providence St, West Warwick, RI 02893

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ajh05004

                            The top four here are the best in exact order.

                          2. I can only come up with six:

                            Al Forno - hand's down the only consistently excellent restaurant in RI
                            The Deck (Newport)
                            Mama Luisa (Newport)
                            Gracies
                            Castle Hill
                            La Masseria

                            3 Replies
                            1. re: tricia2

                              I couldn't disagree more. I've had straight up BAD meals at Al Forno.

                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                It's one of the few consistently good restaurants in RI, so I give it high marks. However, the interior needs work - it's cramped and the chairs are awful - rickety and flimsy. It is what it is, I guess.

                                1. re: tricia2

                                  I've got to agree with invino here...I don't think Al Forno is consistently good....I've stopped going because of spending a small fortune to be disappointed. Too many other good choices in RI.

                            2. Chez Pascal - I guess it's pretty good, but for me the one time we went, it was so-so.
                              New Rivers - always excellent
                              Castle Hill - haven't been
                              Bouchard - never heard of it, where is it.
                              Al Forno - good, but over rated
                              Gracie's - THE BEST. Love it, always have a great meal.
                              10 Steak and Sushi - Nothing special about the steak and if I want sushi I go to Haruki... much better
                              Capital Grille - Really? For me it's just another steak house.
                              Mill's Tavern - ditto
                              Local 121 - Want to love it, but it's always up and down.One visit is terrific, then the next is mediocre.

                              I'd agree with adding Rasoi, and where the hell is La Laiterie? That's one of the best in Providence right after Gracies.

                              So my list is...
                              Gracies
                              La Laiterie
                              Red Fez
                              Rasoi
                              New Rivers
                              Haruki
                              Al Forno
                              The bar at Local 121 and the bar at Cook and Brown... food in both is a bit all over the place.
                              Julians
                              Nicks

                              -----
                              Red Fez
                              49 Peck St, Providence, RI 02903

                              Chez Pascal Restaurant
                              960 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906

                              Local 121
                              121 Washington St, Providence, RI 02903

                              La Laiterie
                              184-188 Wayland Avenue, Providence, RI 02906

                              Haruki Restaurant
                              1210 Oaklawn Ave, Cranston, RI 02920

                              Rasoi Restaurant
                              855 Worcester Rd Ste 24, Framingham, MA 01701

                              Capital Grille
                              1 Union Sta Ste 1, Providence, RI 02903

                              1. Agree with several already mentioned, but if I had to make a list, I'd roughly put them in this order:

                                La Laiterie
                                Persimmon
                                Gracie's
                                Nick's
                                Matunuck Oyster Bar
                                Chez Pascal
                                Up River Cafe
                                DeWolf Tavern
                                Broadway Bistro
                                Castle Hill (never been, but will throw it a bone based on what I've heard)

                                We definitely gravitate toward the restaurants that try to locally source their food...

                                Best Burger: Crazy Burger in Narragansett, all the way!

                                Best red sauce Italian: Andino's

                                Best pizza: is there such a thing in RI? Though I've heard great things about the new 5 Star Pizzeria in Pawtucket, I haven't tried it myself...

                                -----
                                Chez Pascal Restaurant
                                960 Hope St, Providence, RI 02906

                                La Laiterie
                                184-188 Wayland Avenue, Providence, RI 02906

                                Andino's
                                171 Atwells Ave, Providence, RI 02903

                                Up River Cafe
                                37 Main St, Westerly, RI 02891

                                Bacaro Restaurant
                                262 S Water St, Providence, RI 02903

                                Broadway Bistro
                                205 Broadway, Providence, RI 02903

                                3 Replies
                                1. re: LMWW

                                  Bad news.... Up River closed. I do think the food there was good. Love the bar! It is about to open soon as a new restaurant called "The Bridge". It is supposed to be seafood.

                                  -----
                                  Up River Cafe
                                  37 Main St, Westerly, RI 02891

                                  1. re: LMWW

                                    Wow, how did I miss La Laiterie? Definitely should be on the list...

                                    I'm not sure about DeWolf Tavern... I've now had two meals there and have been really disappointed with both in all phases of the experience... Others disagree I know...

                                    From the comment below, I really like Apsara, but top ten overall? I don't think so...

                                    -----
                                    La Laiterie
                                    184-188 Wayland Avenue, Providence, RI 02906

                                    Apsara Restaurant
                                    716 Public St, Providence, RI 02907

                                    1. re: Garris

                                      Haha! Garris, with the absence of La Laiterie, I was thinking that you were starting to slip! And to be fair, we've been to De Wolf only once, and several years ago. On a cold winter night, the warmth of the setting was particularly memorable.

                                      Bummer about Up River, though. We need a new seafood restaurant like we need a hole in the head!

                                      -----
                                      La Laiterie
                                      184-188 Wayland Avenue, Providence, RI 02906

                                      Up River Cafe
                                      37 Main St, Westerly, RI 02891

                                  2. Apsara Asian Restaurant on Public Street belongs on the RI top ten list.

                                    -----
                                    Apsara Restaurant
                                    716 Public St, Providence, RI 02907

                                    1. You didn't mention Crazy Burger in Narragansett - great eggs , burgers, their own hot sauce - can get quite crowded - 3 o'clock in the afternoon is best

                                      1. Coming into this late, but Mill's Tavern has definitely slipped as has Local 121. Still love the bar there though. Have to add Bacaro and for breakfast Julian's. Capital Grille still good, especially for the steak tartare that you now have to ask for since it's off the menu, but they still make it. That, a glass of Chateau Simard Bordeaux and I can't ask for any more.

                                        -----
                                        Local 121
                                        121 Washington St, Providence, RI 02903

                                        Bacaro Restaurant
                                        262 S Water St, Providence, RI 02903

                                        Capital Grille
                                        1 Union Sta Ste 1, Providence, RI 02903

                                        1. She (he?) qualified the list as My Top 10 right? Arguing or lambasting a list of personal favorites is silly (and or rude). If someone's favorite Beatles record is Yellow Submarine, you cant argue with them. If they said the BEST period, thats different (tho still just an opinion).

                                          4 Replies
                                          1. re: 5thAndNowhere

                                            thankfully, many on here disagree with you otherwise this website would be very very boring.

                                            1. re: joe777cool

                                              Ding, ding, ding!

                                              1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                I highly doubt foodjunkie created this post thinking that everyone would agree with him/her, rather they posted it to see how other felt about some of their favorites and to spur on discussion of the top restaurants in RI.

                                                And for the record, if somebody said that Yellow Submarine was their favorite Beatles Album, they deserve what they have coming to them!! = ) I was born in 1981 and know better than that!

                                                1. re: invinotheresverde

                                                  invino - on a side note, could you email me (my chow handle)@aol.com, I have a question about supplying alcohol for my wedding next year. I would appreciate any help you could give me