As kids, the extensive convincing Mom and Dad would go through to get us to eat our veggies included but were not limited to; mild threats of sleeping at the dinner table, nearly on the knees begging, bribery with the sorts of candy and other sweet confections, or heavier threats of going to bed without dinner whatsoever, the likes of Max from Where The Wild Things Are. Well mom n’ pop, the day has come, the tables have turned. No longer are turning a nose up at a brussel sprout, but actually seeing it listed as an ingredient and being the decision maker. Those years of veggie tirades seem so obscure with our head-over-heels love for the fully vegetarian menu at The Garden Grille, located at the tail end of Blackstone Blvd in Pawtucket.
Garden Grille is easily one of my utmost favorite restaurants in the state, for the simple fact that the food that is placed before you is consistently delicious. Whether you are a creature of habit and order the butternut squash quesadilla every. Single. Time. without a glance at the menu (guilty), or if you dabble in the specials menu. You can guarantee a delectable dish. I am confident that I could close my eyes and point, and I would be thrilled with the outcome.
We started out with an appetizer that everyone can love; Korean Tacos. Two soft flour tortillas hug a slice of nutty tempeh marinated in a sweet chili glaze, shrouded by a colorful purple cabbage, creamy avocado, and a tangy chipotle aioli. These tacos can do no wrong in my eyes. They are flavorful, bright, and the best addition to your taco Tuesday rotation.
Salads are a summer time favorite, but a word of advice, never settle for a basic salad. Cukes and tomatoes are all well and good, but when you have fresh, in-season fruits and veggies to decorate your bowl of green, there is no room for entry level veggies. The Reggies Raw Heaven is an absolute go-to, so much that if I ever meet Reggie, I’d have to shake his hand. The curt bitterness of leafy arugula is cut with a sweet pomegranate dressing, and piled with beet infused jicama, tart grapefruit segments, lush and sweet mango slices, buttery avocado and crushed cashews for a nutty crunch. Like I said, no basic salads allowed. If you can fit all of that onto one forkfull, you will be in juicy green paradise.
For the grand finale, a true Mount Rushmore of dishes. Except instead of the portraits of American Presidents, the massive mound of tortilla chips is proudly adorned with the grand classics of nachos; President cheddar jack, President guac, Vice President salsa, Secretary vegan sour cream, and General black beans. This heaping pile of oozy toppings of the ultimate comfort dish and honestly, my favorite nachos in town. While nachos are hard to mess up, when they are done well, it’s easy to recognize. This right here? Is a refined nacho.
Although I had mentioned, I feel the need to stress this point; Garden Grille is one of my all time favorite restaurants. It is the absolute go-to, the fall back, the treat yo self, the special night out, the casual take out at home, the “I want to show off to my out of town friends”. It is whatever you want or need it to be! The place has been around for decades and is recognized in the community as a staple.
I want to make one final point. When speaking about a vegetarian place, it is easy to get lost in making comparison to meat based dishes, saying things like ‘the Reuben tastes just like real meat!” (Don’t get me wrong, it totally does), or "get your meat lover friends to try it!". I think there is something to be said about creating a space where meat has no place at the table. So much, that meat is not worth mentioning. It is completely irrelevant and not needed to showcase how incredible the the meals are in it’s absence. That being said, Meat, you are not missed here.
Thank you to the Garden Grille, for always being there for us, and to the staff who is always warm and welcoming, even when you are over flowing with a bustling crowd of people knocking the door down for some damn good vegetarian cuisine. Love yall!
Photos: Emily Homonoff
Braceletes: Marianna Mae Designs - handmade in RI
There is Good. Then there’s Great. And finally, there is Excellent. And that is just the descriptor we would use after dining at Excellent Breakfast, In Harrisville, RI. We have all heard it before, “Breakfast is the most important meal of the day”, so you might as well give yourself a meal that you deserve! No run of the mill burnt toast and greasy potatoes. Treat your first meal as though you are setting the tone for the day to come. Want an Excellent day? Have an Excellent Breakfast.
It seems as though Excellent Breakfast is giving the town of Harrisville exactly what they needed.An upscale diner-esque breakfast experience in an absolutely adorable setting. Tucked up into the northern corner of the state makes for a beautiful scenic drive, if you are coming from out of town.
Let’s start right out of the gate with my personal favorite breakfast food; pancakes. This classic stack was dotted with melty chocolate chips, dusted with powdered sugar and crowned with a golden square of warm butter. Do not forget, not all pancakes are created equally, and these are certainly superior. Thick, yet fluffy and perfectly sweet.
Hats off to whomever thought of making dessert acceptable at breakfast.
As I was saying, Excellent Breakfast is not your average diner. So do not expect an average breakfast sandwich. Served on *literally* our favorite kind of bread, a Portuguese sweet bolo that has been buttered and pressed on the griddle. Melted cheese, two eggs with runny yolk (yes, so very important), and adorned with the thickest, most tender cuts of bacon I have ever sunk my teeth into. It makes me wonder, at what thickness does bacon become considered pork belly in true form? Beats me! Stack it on there and feed it to me!
What does your breakfast look like? If it's not like this, it's not good enough.
For another sweet confection, you might want to sit down for this, we had Allie’s Donut French Toast. One of my all time favorite donuts ever, sliced down the middle, egg dipped and griddled to sizzling sweet perfection. Powdered sugar flurried on top and topped with a dollop of whipped cream. It may be indulgent, but it is worth every sugary sweet bite.
An Allie's Donut swiped right on Tinder and met a real nice guy named French Toast. This is their delicious baby.
We ended our meal savory, with the breakfast quesadilla. Two corn tortillas hugging together black beans and melted cheese, tucked beneath two sunny side up eggs, salsa verde and a sprinkling of cilantro. Bust open one of those yolks and get the full flavorful effect in each bite. My favorite part was the colorful and bright salsa verde, to spice up with classic dish.
Never settle for average. You are not regular, you’re not boring! So as a rule of thumb, never consume dull food. Never! Not a single drab item on the menu here, so no need to fret.
Thank you to our friends at Excellent Breakfast for welcoming us in and feeding us such incredibly delicious food. We will be making our way out to you again so soon!
Communities are really just groups of people with one thing in common; proximity. What brings people together, is food! The food that connects Providence’s West End is Hudson Street Deli; tucked right into the center of a neighborhood, its blue scalloped awning welcoming in anyone with an appetite. And an appetite indeed, is certainly needed when stepping up to the counter at Hudson Street Deli.
A large Italian sub is something seen on just about every sandwich menu in Rhode Island; if there’s bread, there’s an Italian sub. So how does Hudson’s sub stand out from the rest? Well, its about the size of a newborn baby, and weighs about the same, too. This mammoth sandwich is layered with fresh sliced cold cuts, shredded lettuce, cheese, Italian salsa, banana peppers, tomatoes, oil and vin, and mayo. Phew, that’s a mouthful (literally).
Mornings are almost always going to be a drag, but when you have a hearty breakfast, it makes Monday’s feel like Fridays! Hudson’s breakfast sandwiches start with freshly cracked eggs. We can’t emphasize enough, how very important fresh eggs are. None of that frozen egg patty nonsense. Layer it with ooey-gooey melty cheese, and griddled meats of your choosing!
We loved this classic lunch time sandwich served on Rhode Island’s favorite sandiwich bun, a soft and fluffy Calise roll. Grilled chicken, melted mozz, tomato and basil. Like your fave margarita pizza, in sandwich form!
BLT’s are such a classic sandwich. It’s simplicity is what makes it beautiful; you can dress it up how you want! Hudson’s Notorious BLT is just as infamous as Notorious BIG. They take fresh lettuce and tomatoes, crispy strips of bacon, cheddar cheese, avocado, and purple cabbage and stack it up in between two toasty slices. We recommend rye, for that extra good good.
Now, if you’re a vegetarian and you’re starting to feel left out, you’re about to get real happy. The Rabbit, aka the vegetarian BLT is tempeh bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and roasted garlic vegenaise, served on toasted marble rye. I am not going to lie to you, I think I liked this plant based bacon better than the real deal!
Another one for the plant lovers, and one of my favorite sandwiches of the day, Smash the Patriarchy, breaks all the rules. Served warm off the press on your choice of bread, smashed chickpea salad, feta cheese, onions, cranberry sauce, and spinach to make such a smooth, almost buttery taste. It reminded me of a tastier version of egg salad, but with yummy add ons and sweet and tart pops from the cranberry. So good that a meat lover might even try something vegetarian *gasps*.
And finally, something that is not between two slices of bread is the saute bowl! This is custom built, made to order. Pick what you want, whatever you’re in the mood for, and sauté it! We went with an egg scramble, sauteed mushrooms, kale, carrots, zucchini and onions. We love this because sometimes, we are feeling like leaving the carbs out of the picture, but it’s hard to do at a sandwich shop! So if one of those sandwiches is calling your name, but you’ve promised yourself to skip the bread today, not to worry.
Hudson Street Deli is truly admirable because they have something for everyone. A giant, Italian cold cut sandwich, vegetarian and vegan options, and every choices for our friends who are allergic to gluten. They are able to accommodate just about everyones dietary needs, wants, and desires. And to make you love them even more, they are super conscious of the footprint they leave behind. They work to minimize their food and paper product waste, and encourage customers to bring their own reusable containers. We can certainly get behind a business who is thoughtful enough to care about their environment and community!
Thank you to Hudson St. Deli for having us in, and being so wonderfully accommodating. You literally had us eating sandwiches for days (how many people does it really take to finish that massive grinder!?) We can’t wait to come back!
As Rhode Islanders, we consider a drive from one end of the state to the other to be a day trip. Honey, don’t forget to pack the snacks! Ha! East Bay is just a stone's throw away from Providence, and it is full of hidden gems that we are so excited to explore. We found our way to Square Peg in Warren for some lunch and cocktails, and the trip from the city to the waterfront, didn’t seem so far out of reach after all.
Living in the Ocean State, I think we might be programmed to have a weakness for the fruit of the sea. So naturally, we ordered the fish tacos. Golden panko crusted fried haddock, perfectly flakey with a light crunch. Wrapped up in flour tortillas and topped with crisp shredded cabbage, juicy tomatoes, and a chili lime crema. These tacos were so beautifully fresh, crispy and flavorful, served with a side of house made tortilla chips and salsa. Oh baby, squeeze some lime on em and call it a day!
OK so burgers, our favorite food with buns! We ordered the PBR, and no, it has nothing to do with the beer (it fooled us too!) P is for fried Pickles, B is for BACON, and R is for ranch (yee-haw!). This flavorful trio has us practically licking our fingers (ok not practically, literally). A tender, juicy burger, melty cheese, lettuce, tomato and then layered with crisped bacon, tangy ranch, and fried pickle chips.You get alladat in one bite, and the savory goodness will have you flying.
Le sigh, what a tasty meal we are having. But of course, it must be washed down with something equally yummy to match. We are eating tacos, so of course a couple of margaritas are in order. Sweet and spicy jalapeno margaritas, a creamy and nutty coconut margarita (yes, you heard right, complete with a crunchy coconut rim), and a blackberry whisky muddle. Sips between bites made for a completely blissful afternoon.
We would like to thank The Square Peg for welcoming us in! We can not wait to come back in for a visit once the weather is bright and warm, and enjoy the beautiful view (with one of those cocktails in hand).
If you’re thinking of Mexican for dinner, the first thing that pops into your mind are probably tacos. Followed by Burritos, tagging along with nachos and quesadillas, and probably a day dream consisting of margaritas with a salted rim. How often do we sit down and order one of the above, without so much as a wink in the direction of the rest of the menu? We went out for some authentic Mexican cuisine, and decided to stray from the norm and try some dishes that aren’t in our usual rotation. At Chilango’s in Providence, you have all of these classics on the menu, as well as a variety of traditional Mexican dishes that you have just got to try.
We started with the Coliflor Rostizada, roasted cauliflower in a thick and flavorful poblano mole, sesame, scallions, and finished with queso cotija. Cauliflower is such an amazing vegetable. As a matter of fact, it is a cruciferous vegetable, which offers a number of health benefits! But what we love about albino broccoli is that is is so versatile! Here, is had smooth and spicy flavors throughout, and offered somewhat of a meaty consistency. The mole was thick and just a tad smokey, which really upped this dish for us! What a great starter.
OK so I know that we said we were going to try different things tonight, but how could we resist everyone’s favorite dip? Yes, we got chips and guac. Smoother than butter served with house made crispy tortilla chips. If you like it hot, add habanero! Don’t be scared, spice it up baby!
Speaking of dips, we practically did an olympic style head-first dive into the Queso Fundido. Yes, “fun” is in the name. Yes, we played with this melty, gooey, delicious pot of queso. An assortment of cheeses melted together, with bites of spicy chorizo and peppers, served with a side of warm flour tortillas. The photo-worthy cheese pull is easy here, stick a form and watch that melty cheese stretch allllllll the way to your mouth.
Three adorable mini sandwiches called pambazos, were placed before us. They were almost too cute to eat. These little buns were stuffed with tinga chipotle chicken, shredded lettuce, and queso cotija. The pulled chicken was full of flavor, and super juicy. But what made these lil darlings so tasty were the buns! Of course. They are dipped in pepper sauce, fried, and then grilled before they are filled with the tinga chicken. The layers of taste that comes with a preparation like that is exceptional.
Speaking of cute appetizers, we also enjoyed the Mamelas Yucatecas; citrus marinated shredded pork, pickled red onions and cilantro all cradled in little fried corn bowls, and placed on top of a thick and spicy sauce. The corn bowls were thick and doughy but had a perfect crispy outside, holding all of the spiced flavor inside.
All of these carbs and cheese had us feeling like some greens. So we tried cactus for the first time! The cactus salad was topped with sliced almonds, grapefruit segments, tomatoes, onions, and a drizzle of agave mustard dressing. If you have never had cactus before, it has such a great consistency; juicy, with a snap! The brightness of the grapefruit and the tangy mustard dressing wrapped this salad up so nicely, finished with a nutty crunch.
The next dish we enjoyed was the Pollo en Mole; tender roasted chicken breast, that shreds when you sink a fork into it, smothered in an herb verde mole sauce. Mole is a traditional Mexican sauce that is flavored with garlic, onions, and typically with habanero or some type of pepper. Here, this smooth green sauce was thick, and had an underlying bite of spice. Served with a side of rice and warm flour tortillas, it’s everything you could want served in one dish.
Our final plate was on the special menu; the enchilada pochutecas. Rolled tortillas filled with crispy cheese, topped with smokey chile pasilla salsa, crema, sliced almonds, pickled red onions and slices of avocado served with a side of rice. Enchiladas are really like a cross between a burrito and a taco, with all the yummy stuff on top (what’s not to love!?). We loved this dish so much because it wasn’t something you see all the time. The sliced almonds added a nutty crunch, and the pasilla salsa gave some heat. And the cheese stuffed in the middle?! Phew! A special delicious enough to earn a permanent spot on the menu.
We would like to thank everyone over at Chilangos; Carlos, Max, and our model Justina. You were all so wonderful, and fed us so well!
Thank you to our photographer, Ashoka for photographing all of this delicious and tasty food!
You may have come across a photo of a sea turtle with a plastic straw in it’s nose or a dolphin stuck in a soda can holder. Maybe you felt a twinge of guilt, but kept scrolling past it. We are all aware (or should be!) of just how wasteful we are in our day-to-day life, and any effort to alleviate the paper trail of trash we leave in our wake will make a difference. Instead of stocking up on boxed goods, food packaged in wrappers and plastic, consider shopping for these items in bulk, where you can bring your own container! If you’re scratching your head because you just can’t fathom how that is possible because Stop & Shop doesn’t offer such a thing, maybe it is time to think outside of the (big) box (store).
The West End of Providence has become a rather popular area to live over the past couple of years, and businesses are popping up like daffodils in the spring. Restaurants and cafes open their doors to accommodate the many millennials that have made West End their home. One of the newly opened businesses is called Hope & Thyme, and is exactly what the neighborhood, and even the city, needs.
Hope & Thyme is a package free market and cafe, offering local produce, bulk goods, coffee, smoothies and snacks. Think about all of the plastic packaging and boxes that hold the food we buy at the grocery store; cereal, pasta, beans, granola bars, the list literally could go on to infinity. All of that waste ends up in the landfills and eventually in our oceans. And none of us want that! But shopping at a local market like Hope & Thyme not only supports local businesses, but also eliminates a lot of the waste we leave behind! Bring your own jar or container to fill up, or event rent one from Hope & Thyme.
As the smallest state, we as Rhode Islanders are taught to eat local and support small businesses, it is ingrained in our culture. Hand selecting fruits and veggies from Rhode Island and New England farms like the RI Mushrooms Co. and Little City Growers Op, helps to support the community, and help our neighbors thrive. It doesn’t stop at the green stuff, they also carry local eggs and dairy as well!
Need some caffeine? Grab a coffee, latte or tea, and remember to bring your own cup! Borealis cold brew nitro is pouring on tap, and it is oh so creamy. Also on tap is chilled Kombucha, brewed next door in Mass. Looking to bulk up on your daily vitamins and nutrients? (yes we always are) Grab a super healthy fresh smoothie! We had a green smoothie loaded with Spirulina, which is the most protein dense food on the planet! So next time someone asks where a vegetarian or vegan gets their protein from, tell them a plant packs more of a punch than a steak! Wahoo!
The cafe counter always has something yummy cooking or baking, like vegan and gluten free treats, soups and rice bowls. We snacked on little Thyme Bombs, which are little heart shaped Lara Bar style bites, without the wrapped that would get thrown in the trash! Plus, homemade is always best!
All of this sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? It seems like ideally, all of us have a desire to make a difference and contribute to a better, cleaner community and in turn, improved environment. West End is full of young people who share this mentality, so it comes as a shock that Hope and Thyme are currently in financial hardship after opening only a month ago. They are providing the community with what they need, and are currently not being met with enough of a response to sustain for the long run. If a cutting back on plastic and waste is something you strive to do, shopping for your grocery needs at Hope & Thyme is going to have the positive impact that you are looking for. If you wish to support this local business, donate to their GoFundMe, at www.gofundme.com/hopeandthyme.
We want to thank Hope & Thyme for welcoming us in, and letting us take over the space doing yoga! We hope to contribute to the cause as best as we can! Thank you to our photographer, Danny and our models! Both of these babes are yogis! Noelle (@noellecurren) teaches at Providence Power Yoga, and Alyssa (yogiano) teaches at Rhode Island Yoga Center!
Mondays are almost always a drag. It is the start of another week, and it seems like your coffee takes so much longer to kick in than normal. Which is why (I can only assume) that some brilliant individual coined the term, “Taco Tuesday”. Mondays are that much less dreadful knowing the next day is filled with soft corn tortillas stuffed with yummy meats and tequila to wash it all down. Monday? Ha! Bring it on.
So the question is, where exactly is the best place to celebrate on a Tuesday? Yes, there are taco shops popping up here and there, but if you are looking for the classics like carne asada and a mix up like fried oyster tacos, you are looking for Xaco Taco. Newly opened in Providence, Xaco made sure to leave a strong impression on the city. Almost as strong as the tequila being poured in the ice cold margs. Cheers!
To get us warmed up, we of course had some chips and salsa. House made tortillas, deep fried to a crisped gold. Dipped into the mild salsa verde for a refreshing and tangy bite. I don’t know about you, but when I have chips and salsa, I always want to upgrade to everyone's favorite smooth operator, guacamole. If vegetables were to have a soiree, avocados would definitely be the life of the party! Loved by all, guacamole is the ultimate dip. Xaco does it up with fresh lime juice, cilantro, jalapenos, and charred salsa verde. Smokey, spicy and creamy.
Our next app is made for the cheese lovers. The Queso Fundido is a traditional Mexican style thick and creamy cheese, served with house made ground chorizo and a side of toasted tortillas. Basically what we have here is the ultimate Build Your Own mini cheese quesadilla (or at least that's what I did with it!). This cheese was rich and smooth, with a kick from the chorizo. Stick a spoon in her, and get a nice heavy cheese pull, it will really warm your heart.
Xaco put Taco in their name, so you know they had to bring their A game. Let's start out with one for our vegetarian friends. Having a smoker in house made the smoked cauliflower so tasty that even meat lovers would add it to their order. Topped with toasted pepitas, salsa escabeche for some tangy flavor, and cress. Vegetarians will do more than alright here, at Xaco.
Next we move to the sea. The fried oyster taco is something I have never even thought of, and I am honestly disappointed in myself because these two are so amazing as individuals, that when you put them together they make a power couple stronger than Jay-Z and Beyonce. Oysters become soft little pillows of the sea when they are fried; salty sweet golden nuggets. Topped with pickled carrots, salsa verde and chipotle mayo. The flavors here were so complimentary to the oysters, chipotle mayo acting like a Mexican upgrade to a cajun remoulade. Move over fish taco, oysters are the new girls in town and they just stepped into the popular spotlight.
Finally, we finished off with a classic, Carne Asada. A traditionally seasoned and marinated grilled steak, that creamy crumbly cotija cheese and salsa verde. No need for any fancy sauces of toppings, this signature taco speaks volumes for itself. The marinade on the steak shines through with juicy tender flavors, as soon as your teeth rip through that tortilla. Xaco nails this classic taco, with flavor and texture.
Personally, I am all about texture. The method of how food is prepared influences the tastes, and adds to the overall palate. For me, I often find that food would benefit from a crunchy aspect. Here at Xaco Taco, that crunch is Chapulines, or grasshoppers. Now before you get all up in arms and walk away from reading this, keep in mind that this is a tradition in a culture that may be very different from your own, and although it may be so very obscure in your eyes, it very well may be delicious AF. In this instance, its exactly that. The grasshoppers are cooked and well seasoned, and end up a crunchy crispy bite to add to literally anything. We sprinkled them on top of our fried oyster taco for some real textural contrast and it was pretty damn good! So before you knock it, maybe give it a try.
To wash all of this down, there is no better liquid than tequila. Xaco's bar shelves are lined with an array of tequilas, so whatever your preference may be, they have you covered. We had the classic margarita; one prickly pear, one mango. These margs were the perfect in between of puckered sour and smoothly sweet. Sea salt on the rim and a fresh squeeze of lime, gosh it is heavenly.
We liked these so much because they're flavors we dont see often (or ever!), and we love trying new things.
For our beer lovers (or non-beer lovers, we thoroughly enjoyed this and beer isn't exactly our go-to) try the Mexican ashtray. I will forewarn you though, be prepared to be licking a beer can in public, you will see why. A can of Tecate, with reposado tequila, a squeeze of lime, finished with a dash of a salty rub and a splash of spicy Cholula. The hot sauce and salt rub drip down the side of the can, licking the aluminum is worth getting all those yummy flavors in one sip.
Finally, our favorite drink, the Ranch Water. 1800 Coconut Tequila. Before I go any further, let me just say that this is by far, one of my favorite liquors in existence. It is so smooth, with bold flavors of toasted coconut with out any unwanted sweetness. Xaco Taco is actually the only bar I have ever seen it in, so I know where my new cocktail spot will be. They pour it over ice with pineapple mint agua fresca, and coconut water. This is what I imagine drinking water after being parched in the desert feels like. Light, with slight undertones of cool minty sweetness. Careful though, this is one of those silent killers. Taste so good that they sneak up on you!
After all of the food and the drinks, our sweet tooth started giving us the elbow nudge. We went with some adorable little churro donut holes. Think munchkins, but with a sweeter fluffier dough, rolled in cinnamon sugar and then served with a side of warm melted chocolate. My oh my, this was certainly a way to end a meal.
Thank you to the staff at Xaco Taco, for having us in and taking wonderful care of us. The food was outstanding, the cocktails were incredible. Forget what I said about Tuesdays, we will be back any of the seven days a week!
Have you ever toyed with the idea of going vegetarian? Ever thought about leaving meat behind for a life full of greens and healthy stuff? Ok, if you are, pause, and pick up your phone. Open Instagram, go to the search bar and type in “Chomp Kitchen” and click on the account with the little burger as the icon. Ok now, scroll, scroll, keep scrolling…(I bet at this point you probably have liked a few photos). Still thinking about a meat-less life? HA! Chances are you’re looking at stacks on stacks of cheeseburger and fried chicken and considering spin kicking that salad and spitting in the face of a plant based life.
When I came across Chomp’s Instagram, I assume they quickly knew about Buns and Bites, because we liked and commented on literally all of their photos, because every.single.thing looked like it was taken straight out of Bon Appetit Magazine. They should have a disclaimer in their bio stating “Do Not Scroll down if You’re Hungry”. Imagine the happy dance we did when we finally made a reservation and got to go!? (Not very good at dancing, glad none of you saw it, it’s embarrassing).
Chomp boasts a scratch kitchen, two words that make my ears perk right up! I am such a sucker for scratch kitchens because it is like a guaranteed home-cooked style cooking. It is like comparing break & bake cookies to your grandma’s 65 year old secret choco chip recipe. AKA, a no brainer!
So naturally, we needed some Chomp style comfort food to really experience this little gem in East Bay. We started out with the House Burger; the signature succulent Chomp beef patty, smoked gouda (our favorite kind of cheese to put on any sandwich or burger), house cured bacon that was perfectly crisped, lettuce, tomato, pickles and the Chomp Sauce. Being the “House Burger”, it sets the standard for every other burger on the menu and shows that there is no room for boring or plain here.
We know they had the beef down, so we had to try out the chicken too. The Chomp Hot Chicken sandwich is a tender piece of Southern fried chicken, Chomp chicken hot sauce, buttermilk ranch, dill pickles and shredded lettuce. The flavors in held between the sesame buns here was rockin. The spice from the hot sauce and the tang from the vinegar in the dill pickles made for such a pop, and a bang when it evens out with the buttermilk ranch. It was just the right amount of spicy, and the chicken was fried to golden perfection that King Midas would approve of.
For the finale, we had The STACK. Judging by it’s name, you can probably guess what monstrous beauty is coming. A three story burger sandwich mashup that was just oozing with cheeses and sauces, daring you to bite it without a fork and knife. We recommend a napkin in the lap, as well as one tucked in the shirt collar, just for safety precautions. OK SO, resting right below the shining sesame up on the tippity top was a classic beef patty, followed by that crispy bacon, pickled jalapeños, dill pickles, and that tangy yummy Chomp sauce. On the second floor, we have the smoky pork and beef patty. Combining two types of meat into a burger adds flavor components that you just can’t get from a solo meat. American cheese, caramelized onions, and tomato jam served as in-betweeners before making it to the final stop. A fat piece of Mozambique fried chicken over the classic lettuce and tomato. If you don’t know. Mozambique sauce is a traditionally found in Portuguese cooking, comprised of garlic, Piri Piri sauce and spices, so it added a hot kick of flavor to the final layer. There was so many important components, it is hard to describe how they tasted all together. That being said, we recommend trying it for yourself.
We would like to thank the whole crew at Chomp for welcoming us in, taking great care of us, and feeling us extremely well. We certainly left feeling spoiled. We definitely can agree that the burgers, sandwiches, etc. are worth a drive to East Bay. Thank you!
Thank you to our Photographer Nigel @zoomedia and our model @a_worthy9
Taking a closer look at Downtown Providence, one can see love and romance in the details. Cotton candy skies setting as the backdrop behind the superman building, strings of lights twinkling on Westminster, and the aroma of wood fire pizza wafting through the open doors at Figidini Pizza on Washington Street.
An inviting yet intimate nook right in the heart of Downtown, Figidini is an ideal go-to for date night. The origins of the Neapolitan Style pizza is rooted in love, itself. Owners Frankie and Kara followed the footsteps of Frankie’s parents, who owned Franca’s Pizzaria, one of the very first wood fired pizza ovens in Massachusetts. A second generation of love and passion for exquisite cuisine has come to life right here, in Providence at Figidini.
We settled into a bar stool and felt at home, surrounded by candle light and earth tones and ordered a craft cocktail. The cactus margarita looked like an Arizona summer, with a snowy salt rim. Sweet and tart, we puckered up with the waves with pear and cactus juice swirling with the tequila. It may be February, but one sip and we would be fooled into feeling like July.
The open air kitchen helps to fill the space with the mesmerizing scent of dough blistering on a crackling wood burning over. So naturally, we followed course and ordered the burrata pizza. If you have never had burrata, we suggest doing so while sitting, because it could knock you right off your feet. A semi-firm buffalo mozzarella cheese that with the wonderful stretchy quality we all love, with a creamy, oozing center of soft and rich textured cheese. Ahem, pay attention, because here is where it gets good. The burrata is the centerpiece to the pizza, which is hand formed from 00 imported flour and slid into the flaming wood oven. Baking flavors into the dough that only a wood oven can provide, the crust is perfectly crisped on the edged and soft and doughy in the center. A lovely texture to accompany the immense flavors layered on top; San Marzano tomato sauce, shaved garlic, olive oil, salametta picanta (basically really bomb/fancy pepperoni), and oregano. Cutting into the burrata lets the soft runny cheese inside seep into the crust of the pizza, making wonderfully unique tastes.
Providence may have a lot of pizza places, but in all of our travels throughout the city, we have not met a pizza anything like this one. The simplicity of the right seasoning and fresh ingredients paired with the flavors of the wood oven and of course, the love that goes into it, sets it aside. If we are being honest, the last time we had pizza that tasted like this, was in Italy itself. You know, THE Italy! (So we're saying it's the real deal).
We would like to thank Figidini for being so welcoming, and accommodating. We can not wait to join you on a warm summer night outside, for pizza and a cocktail. We know we’ll be back before it gets warm, but we are just dreaming here!
Ah, Historic Federal Hill. A staple in Providence’s foodscape bustling with culture and seemingly endless classic Italian eateries. The archway adorned with the oversized pinecone (some of yall think its a pineapple, and you are incorrect) stands as a welcome sign, to all of those who are hungry. While we love a good ol’ spaghetti and marinara, we were looking for Italian cuisine that pushes the traditional boundaries and explores a variety of the deeper flavors of Italy. Enter, Massimo.
The vibes upon walking in the door at Massimo are that of an eclectic, Euro-retro style eatery. The familiar red checkered tablecloth that marks a typical American-Italian style dining is nowhere in sight. And we are relieved. Refreshingly enough, Massimo stands out on Atwells not just because of the menu, but also the atmosphere. The walls are adorned with the iconic pasta lover, Sophia Loren. The space is welcoming, yet romantic. When the sun dips down, twinkling lights make constellations in the windows and the dim lighting draws you in. My favorite part of the space? The long farmers table at the center of the dining room, spread with olive tapenade, whole wheels of cheese, a cured leg of prosciutto, and freshly baked breads. Servers use this table to provide pre-dinner snacks to their guests, and it becomes the focal point of the room. If just the bread is a signifier of how dinner is going to unravel, it is looking as lovely as Ms. Loren.
As we settle in, the full bodied red wine is poured, the napkins are in our laps, and the silverware can be found in both the left and right; we are ready to eat. Set before us are two little buns (gosh, we are swooning already!) each gently cradling a juicy meatball, a sliver of mozzarella cheese and a whole leaf of basil. These meatball sliders are the hand-held version of the classic Italian sandwich, the meatball sub, so I suppose they’re it’s adorable little sister. Juicy and tender, and gone in just a couple of bites!
As our next appetizer arrived, we bowed our heads and had a moment of silence for our friends and family members who are lactose intolerant. It is an honest travesty that they are held back from enjoying one of life's greatest pleasures; cheese. The rustic slice of wood displayed rolls of thin sliced salami, capicola, and imported prosciutto di parma to be paired with a semi-hard sheep's milk cheese and a creamy gorgonzola that I assume was churned by angels in the heavens. To pair, we noshed on stuffed cherry and banana peppers, queen and kalamata olives, pickled artichoke hearts, and crispy slices of toast. The flavor combinations were seemingly endless, giving the feel of a new taste with every bite.
For the main event, we were wowed by Massimo’s squid ink spaghetti. If you have never had or seen squid ink pasta, it is dark in color, almost black, and adds subtle hints of brine to the dish which makes it ideal to be twirled on a fork with seafood. Here, is was simmered in a light lobster cream, tossed with a english peas and mushrooms, and finished with a dusting of bread crumbs. Finally, topped with tender, succulent lobster, the king of the sea. Lobster being naturally sweet balanced out the brine of the squid ink and was brought together by the touch of cream, and showed that this flavor profile of this dish was well thought out. While we felt like royals eating it, we didn’t look the part while we slurped the spaghetti!
While I adore any and all savory foods, my heart truly belongs to sugar. So no matter how full my body may feel, my mind shh’s it and responds with a “yes, we will see a dessert menu”. Cannoli’s are an Italian dessert that really hit all the marks, crispy fried pastry folded around lusciously thick and creamy filling and rolled in candied pistachios. Of course, the star here is the sweet filling, which may have been some of the best we’ve ever tasted. It was heavy, but also fluffy and so wonderfully sweet, and the touch of candied nuts really sent us over the edge. Some people clink their glasses together to raise a toast, we cheers with cannolis.
Of course Federal Hill is home to Providence’s historic Italian lineage, so the cooking is always bellissimo. But we feel that Massimo is above average for a number of reasons. You can find the classic staples like chicken marsala and bolognese, while also having a wide selection of fresh seafood options and eclectic Italian inspired dishes such as our squid ink lobster dish. Our celiac friends who normally are left out of the pasta and bread conversation rejoice. Seriously, we took out celiac friend to dinner and she actually celebrated upon finding the extensive gluten free menu including pasta and even yummy dinner rolls! It’s the small stuff that matters. Oh did we mention they serve brunch? We will save that for another visit, which we are already looking forward to.
We would like to thank the staff at Massimo for being so incredibly welcoming during our meal. As someone with years of experience in the service industry, I can confidently say that I have experienced A+ service from the wait staff at Massimo, and outstanding accommodations from both the management and executive chef. Thank you all, we can not wait to join you for dinner (or brunch!) again, very soon.