For Northeasterners, the drive between New York and Boston is notoriously boring. There are only a few attractions along the stretch worthy of a pit-stop, and and the one source of entertainment is wondering why it takes so long to drive through Connecticut. With the intention to compensate, drivers rush and settle for quick-fixes at fast food chains or diners advertised on the highway. But, unknown to most, there’s a secret oasis along I-95 where award-winning restaurants and a lively food city are waiting to astound you.
You will not see much as you first approach Providence, but have a look behind the large mall towering over the highway to search out the intricate dome of the State Capital peeking out of the skyline. That is the primary glimpse into Providence’s well-kept secrets that even essentially the most well-traveled Northeasterners have not discovered.
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A History of Food
The town of Providence was established in 1636 as a religious safe haven, where people of all religions were welcome to practice. Freedom of thought brought an economic boom to the town and it grew right into a bustling seaport and a cultural hub for artists. You can visit the well-preserved remnants of Providence’s great history just by walking the Independence Trail, which passes landmarks like City Hall and the RISD Museum. Or, to get a literal taste of Providence’s history, head across the river to Federal Hill.
On the Savoring Federal Hill food tour, you’ll learn more concerning the history of this community established by Italian immigrants. Starting in Depasquale Square, taste test cold cuts from typical Italian grocery stores, get a behind the scenes have a look at Scialo Bros. Bakery, and take a look at the wine selection at Gasbarro”s—the first wine shop within the United States to ever import wine from Italy. The award-winning tour led by Chef Cindy Salvato is the perfect introduction to the town’s Italian heritage, and an excellent place to start your exploration of Providence’s food scene. And if the tour’s not Italian enough for you, check out La Gondola for a romantic ride through the city on an authentic Venetian gondola.
If it is 2 a.m. and you are craving James Beard award-winning comfort food, Providence is the place to be. Olneyville New York System is an eat-in or take out joint that won the James Beard Award for the “American Classic” category in 2014, and it’s been a long-time local favorite run by the same family because the 1930’s. The signature combo is hot wieners (do not allow them to catch you calling them hot dogs) and a side of coffee milk, flavored milk unique to Rhode Island.
The preserved 1950’s decor and hot wiener topped with onions and meat sauce might trick you into thinking you’re in for a heavy and greasy meal, but the delectableness of the new wieners is instantaneous and the coffee milk is the right drink to scrub it down. It is no wonder you’ll find half the town lined up outside the door on a lively Friday night—locals, tourists, and even award-winning chefs from a few of the preferred restaurants in the town.
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The Challenge of selecting
In case your trip of Providence is true across the corner, you better start working up an appetite now. With an overwhelming multitude of delicious and renowned restaurants to choose from, trying each and each one is next to impossible depending on how long your trip is. Throw a stone and you are bound to hit something delicious.
Listed below are a few of my favorites to guide you in your culinary exploration.
Nick’s on Broadway: At Nick’s, it is about more than simply brunch. A spectacle of artfully plated food and delicious flavors in dishes from the polenta to the sea bass, Nick”s on Broadway is one of the most popular breakfast spots in the town. Ask to be seated on the kitchen bar for a front row seat to the coordinated chaos of the kitchen as they cook and pamper your meal. 500 Broadway (401) 421-0286
Persimmon: There is not any better place to celebrate a special occasion than with an exquisite meal at Persimmon. The recently opened restaurant is the talk of the town, serving up American cuisine that’s both unique in flavor and perfectly executed in relation to technique. Tables book up quickly, so ensure to make your reservation ahead of time. 99 Hope Street (401) 432-7422
Red Fin Crudo + Kitchen: Can’t decide if you’re in the mood for new England Clam Chowder or fish tacos? Get both at Red Fin Crudo + Kitchen in downtown Providence, which offers dishes starting from New England fare to Mediterranean food. It’s a great spot for late-night dining coupled with an energetic atmosphere and the hippest diners in Providence. 71 Washington Street (401) 454-1335
New Harvest Coffee & Spirits: With so much to do and even more to eat, you’re going to want a bit pick-me-up, preferably with a kick. Stop by New Harvest Coffee & Spirits located in the downtown arcade (right across from the H.P. Lovecraft bookstore) for top-notch coffee—with the choice of adding top-shelf alcohol. It’s the right place to stop for a mid-day brew or a late-night boost. 65 Weybosset Street (401) 272-4604
As you explore the town, you’ll receive more restaurant recommendations than you may know what to do with. There may be a lot to see and taste in this small capital, but as long as you leave with a full stomach and an Instagram feed full of artfully-plated dishes, you’ve got done Providence right.
What food discoveries have you ever made in Providence? Share in the comments below!
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Read the original story: Why the following Big Food City Might be Right Under Your Nose by Jamie Ditaranto, who is a regular contributor to SmarterTravel.
(Photos: Jamie Ditaranto)
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