Eating Through the Northeast
The pleasures of these five cities are in what you can eat and drink, as well as what you can see.
(page 5 of 5)
Providence: Licking the Melting Pot
Like many larger cities in the Northeast, Providence is a melting pot, a foundation for a diverse—and often, delicious—mix of dining opportunities. Also the fact that it’s relatively close and easy to get to makes Providence ideal for a quick getaway.
Since it is a short trip, why not roll that savings into a stay at The Providence Biltmore, an Art Deco gem in the heart of the city. Recently renovated to its former Roaring ’20s glory, a McCormick and Schmick’s seafood restaurant has also been added—a fine-dining destination for those who don’t wish to leave the lap of luxury.
But to take full advantage of the culinary delights, you must go out. To break your fast, Nick’s on Broadway has morning staples like omelettes, French toast, hotcakes and breakfast sandwiches, and more exotic plates, such as frittatas (add grilled chicken, shrimp or bacon). You can go the bagel-and-lox route or the spicier Mexican breakfast with huevos rancheros—two eggs, black beans, salsa, avocado-cilantro cream on a tortilla. Brickway on Wickenden is also popular and serves breakfast all day. Omelettes, French toast and waffles are among the favorites; much of the menu is standard fare, although great attention is paid to fresh ingredients and preparation—portions are substantial, too.
Rhode Island is the Ocean State, so a seafood lunch with a water view seems mandatory. Hemenway’s on South Main Street is within eyeshot of the Providence River; dine alfresco or stay in the dining room to crack into a lobster or Alaskan king crab legs, or the catch of the day—salmon, swordfish, trout, scrod, scallops or shrimp. Sandwiches and burgers are also on the menu—lobster-and-crab-cake burger, anyone?—as are myriad salads, including seafood Caesar, lobster and jumbo lump crab. You know the saying, “When in Rome . . .”? Well, when in Providence, the locals looking for a little bit of Rome—and a lot of great Italian food—flock to Venda Ravioli on Atwells Avenue in the Little Italy section of Federal Hill, on the charming DePasquale Plaza. Primarily known for making fresh pasta (the specialty is the jumbo ravioli), the colorful and lively market has a small café that offers a full lunch menu featuring its fabulous pasta and other Italian-themed dishes, from panini to specialty salads. And if you can, get some lobster ravioli to take home.
One of the most acclaimed restaurants in downtown Providence is Pot au Feu on Custom House Street, which features a bistro (think lighter meals) and a salon for occasions that call for full-on formal French dining. The bistro dinner menu has hearty fare—beef Bourguignon, foies de volaille Lyonnaise, etc.—but the salon is really where to settle in for an authentic French fête: filet mignon with béarnaise sauce, pan-seared ostrich, lobster Véronique (lobster tossed with grapes in a cardinal sauce over fettuccine), rack of lamb Bordelaise—magnifique! For meat-and-potatoes lovers, The Capital Grille at Union Station is renowned for its dry-aged steaks—sirloin and porterhouse top the menu, although there’s also filet mignon and rib-eye as well as a swordfish jardinière. You can have your steak au poivre, rubbed with crushed peppercorns and served with a rich Courvoisier cognac cream-and-peppercorn sauce. It’s also a Wine Spectator “Award of Excellence” winner and yes, The Capital Grille in Stamford is a sister restaurant.
If possible, take in one of the spectacular WaterFire events that occur every other Saturday night throughout the summer. Think of it as a little more heat for the melting pot.