Phantom Gourmet: Great 8 Providence Restaurants
PROVIDENCE, RI – Providence, Rhode Island may be the capital of the smallest state, but it’s a big time restaurant city. From Federal Hill to the Jewelry District, these are Phantom’s picks for the 8 Greatest restaurants in Providence.
Kicking off the Great 8 is Mediterraneo on Atwells Ave. The Neopolitan style menu strattles the line between authentic tastes and traditional Italian-American favorites. There’s Tuscan-style bruschetta topped with grape tomatoes and shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, Rhode Island style calamari with sautéed hot pepper rings, and an antipasto platter packed with Sicilian arancini, potato croquettes, olives, meats, and cheeses. The must-order dish is the six hour, slow-cooked bolognese mixing pork, beef, and veal.
“It’s very, it’s very rich. The veal is actually stewed so you have chunks of the veal actually in the dish.”
Duck & Bunny
The Duck & Bunny is a cozy, so-called “snuggery” with plush white leather seats, a charming fireplace, and a cupcake case built right into the bar. But their specialty is crepes, completely crazy crepes actually. Their creative crepe recipes include Chinese lo mein, Japanese sushi, even Mexican inspired creperitos and tortilla chip crepes served with smoky bean dip. But you haven’t really lived until you sink your spoon into the Duck & Bunny’s strawberry sundae where the crepe becomes an edible bowl.
Another Great 8 winner is Caserta Pizza. This Federal Hill mainstay has been serving up crispy, buttery slices since 1953. The menu hasn’t changed much over the years, and neither have the prices. A small, round, six-slice pizza starts at under seven dollars. A large, rectangular 12-slice pie is only $17. The topping selection is purposefully limited, to say the least:
“Cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, and anchovies. No peppers, no onions.”
10 Steak & Sushi
10 Steak & Sushi on Pine Street has an eye catching dining room with wildly patterned banquets, long shimmering curtains and artwork that makes even Phantom blush. The menu features an unlikely combo of serious red meat and outrageously imaginative sushi, supplemented by fresh fish and amazing desserts. The steakhouse sides are truly special with dishes like the garlicky Death by Butter Potatoes, loaded with cream, Asiago cheese, and practically an entire stick of butter!
Watch: Great 8, Part 2
Bacaro is a two floor restaurant with incredible views of Downtown Providence, the Waterfront, and a bustling open kitchen. They specialize in Italian style small plates or Cicchetti – like the Taleggio in Carozza; mini battered and pan fried sandwiches of melted Italian Cheese. And if you want to indulge, dig into a big bowl of carbonara.
“You take the spoon and the fork and you just crack the egg yolk, and you toss it all together, and it just emulsifies the sauce before you. You get the creaminess from the mascarpone and the smokiness from the pancetta and the sweetness from the peas. It’s a great dish.”
Another Great 8 winner is Venda Ravioli. Located on Federal Hill, this large, loud, bustling spot is ideal for sampling the bounty of Italy whether you want to take-out, dine-in, or do-it-yourself. A family business for over 60 years, Venda is a deli, cafe, and specialty product provider, all under one roof. The space is dominated by a huge four-sided deli boasting dozens of prepared foods, copious cold cuts, freshly butchered meats, an outrageous olive bar, and about 100 different cheeses.
Farmstead, Inc. – UPDATE: CLOSED
Farmstead Inc. is part cheese shop, part restaurant and all delicious. Customers walk into a world class specialty shop sporting imported cheeses, housemade jams, and decadent desserts you can bring home.
But if you do decide to dine-in, there’s a menu sporting upscale spins on comfort food classics, like mouthwatering mac and cheese, a wedge garnished with crispy proscuitto, and one of the fanciest grilled cheeses you’ve ever tried.
Rounding out the Great 8 is the internationally known restaurant, Al Forno. This two level eatery is cozy with dim lighting and a warm fireplace. Al Forno claims to have invented the grilled pizza, featuring a superbly thin, crisp-chewy crust supporting puddles of pureed portabellas, salty cheese, a drizzle of olive oil, and a veritable forest of raw scallions. Another must have is Al Forno’s famous Baked Pasta in the Pink, with macaroni shells in creamy tomato and five cheese sauce.
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