Providence, RI is becoming a popular destination for great food and one of the best restaurant cities in the Northeast according to recent articles. It has everything from casual cafes to fine dining restaurants. Several of its chefs have been recently recognized by the James Beard Foundation in its annual nominations and awards. My top recommendations after my recent trip include:
Persimmon: I had a wonderful meal on my first night in town. Helmed by three-time James Beard semi-finalist Champe Speidel, it is known for its “modern American dishes with global influences.” I really enjoyed the scallops in a creamy sauce with asparagus along with a sweet pea angnolotti pasta with burata, prosciutto, peas and mint. I highly recommend it. It is located on the East Side of Providence at 99 Hope St.
Hemenway’s: Thanks to a close friend who went to Brown, I wanted to try Hemenway’s which is known for its seafood. I went for lunch after exploring College Hill, Brown and the RISD Museum. I had an excellent salad with shrimp, crab and lobster along with the best key lime pie! The design is bright and attractive. 121 S. Main St.
Small Point Cafe: At 230 Westminster St. downtown, this is a colorful cafe for coffee, pastries, and breakfast items. I enjoyed my breakfast there while staying a short walk away.
Also good for coffee is Poindexter Coffee at the Graduate Hotel Providence at 11 Dorrance St. They also have breakfast sandwiches, pastries, soups and more.
Kleos: This is a popular downtown spot in a contemporary setting that features contemporary Greek specialties. The menu is classic, with mezze platters, gyros, moussaka and Greek lasagna. I enjoyed dinner there on Sunday night while I was in town.
Oberlin: Benjamin Sukle was a nominee for Best Chef Northeast Semifinalist 2019. It is a downtown neighborhood restaurant and wine bar. They are known for their wines, cider, drinks and small plates. 186 Union St.
Owned by the same team at Oberlin, birch at 200 Washington St. is an intimate New American restaurant featuring a seasonal, locally sourced menu. The local ingredients include whelks (large sea snails), quahogs (deep water clams) and foraged herbs. It was included in Bon Appetit’s list of Top 50 Best New Restaurant in the Country in 2014.
The Dorrance: Located in the heart of downtown in a former Federal Reserve bank building at 60 Dorrance St., The Dorrance is an elegant restaurant featuring a European-influenced menu and craft cocktails. It has ornate ceilings and classic design. The restaurant has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Restaurants in the United States by Opinionated About Dining, Top Bar/Cocktail List two consecutive years by Rhode Island Monthly, Bon Appétit’s Top 50 New Restaurants, and a James Beard Foundation Semi-Finalist for Best New Restaurant in the country.
North: Located in the hip Dean Hotel in downtown Providence, this is a modern Asian hot spot by James Mark, a David Chang protégé. It is very popular and they don’t take reservations, so I recommend going early. Mark opened the Japanese-inspired Big King in June, 2018 in the West Side of Providence. The neighborhood is home to a mix of residences, youth arts organizations and some of the city’s best brunch spots. North previously occupied the space that Big King now does. 231 Carpenter.
PV Donuts: After reading about PV Donuts in several articles, I had to try it on the way back from Newport. So glad I did. It is known for coffee and gourmet donuts! It is located at 79 Ives St. in the Fox Point neighborhood on the city’s east side.
Trinity Brewhouse: At 186 Fountain St., near the Dean Hotel, this is a casual brewpub, started in 1994, and offering pub food and a selection of their own porters, ales, IPAs, sours and stouts brewed on the premises.
Bolt Coffee Company: This is a local coffee roaster. You can find a small location on the first floor of the Dean Hotel. They also have locations at the RISD Museum on College Hill and a third in the Jewelry District. They offer coffee, tea and food items.
After my recent trip to Providence, I read about Aleppo Sweets. In September, 2019 it was included in Bon Appetit’s list of Top 50 Best New Restaurant in the Country. It is a Syrian bakery and cafe with baklava as a specialty. I will definitely add it to the list for my next trip. Knead Doughnuts with three locations in town, was recently recommended by Food & Wine Magazine as having the best donuts in the state.
Federal Hill, just west of downtown, was the original hub for the city’s Italian immigrants and today has some great classic Italian restaurants. Highly recommended are Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen since 1956, at 120 Atwells Ave., featuring Italian cuisine and famous for its lobster, veal, steaks and chops and Camille’s at 71 Bradford St. a landmark, with a colorful dining room, from 1941 for classic Italian fare. Other spots include Trattoria Zooma at 245 Atwells Ave., Cassarino’s at 177 Atwells Ave. from 1988, Angelo’s Citiva Farnese from 1924 at 141 Atwells Ave., and Ristorante Roma. Here Italian standards are offered at this traditional corner eatery, market, bar & bakery. 310 Atwells Ave.
Scialo Brothers Bakery also gets good reviews for it traditional Italian cookies, cakes and pastries. It has been open since 1916 at 257 Atwells Ave.