Mew’s Tavern is a long-time favorite of locals in the Wakefield area. They’re famous for their huge tap list of craft beers, their awesome burgers, some fantastic pizza, and the tree in the main dining room. But it doesn’t stop there: there’s comfort food galore coming out of this kitchen, everything from gourmet mac’n’cheese to seafood, sandwiches, and creative appetizers. Have a peek below and head into the kitchen with us in our “South County Sampler” episode.
Tucked away in an unassuming building in a shopping plaza on the outskirts of Westerly is one of the best Italian restaurants in the state of Rhode Island: Casa Della Luce. At the heart of the menu here are delicious pasta dishes using pasta that is hand-made fresh daily in small batches from the finest ingredients possible. There are very few restaurants these days making all their own pasta in-house, but Casa Della Luce is one of them. The house favorite, a cavatelli with sopressata made locally at Westerly Meat Packing gets sauteed broccoli rabe, garlic, olive oil and parmesan, and it is one of the best pasta dishes you will ever have outside of Italy. The texture of the cavatelli is perfect – springy and tender, and the salty-sweetness of the sopressatta (known locally here as “soupy”) perfectly offset the bitterness of the broccoli rabe.
Owner and founding chef, Mark Lacz, also made us a fresh spinach and cheese stuffed ravioli with a decadent sun-dried tomato and cheese sauce, topped off with toasted pine nuts, that was just out of this world, bursting with flavor and savory richness.
In addition to the pasta dishes, Casa Della Luce is home to some of the best NY style pizza and calzones anywhere, with wildly creative varieties like taco and cheeseburger pizzas that attract a rabid local following.
The menu varies seasonally, and also features other dishes like steaks, fried fish and chips on Fridays, and a clam chowder topped with clam cakes that is delicous. This is Rhode Island, after all. Do yourself a favor and head on down to Casa Della Luce for some amazing, hand-made Italian food in a cozy, friendly space. And don’t miss our upcoming “South County Sampler” episode where we’ll feature Casa Della Luce plus other local gems.
For more info go to: casadellaluce.net
Last night we had the pleasure of filming – and eating – at Mill’s Tavern, in downtown Providence, for our upcoming “Elevated In Down City” episode. Like all the other spots we’ve filmed for this episode, the food was out of this world. Billing themselves as “modern American meets classic French technique”, the menu is more of an ecclectic assortment of classic meals with modern, exotic twists, or what Executive Chef Edward Bolus says is “a reflection of the diverse backgrounds and influences of our cooking team.” Edward himself is of German and Lebanese descent, and he brings these influences into dishes such as their phenomenal Tandoori grilled rack of lamb, which is marinated in yogurt and spices in a Lebanese style, then dusted with Tandoori before grilling and served with beet hummus, chick peas, Israeli couscous, and a tatziki sauce made with thick Lebanese “labheh” yoghurt. Needless to say, the dish is sublime, with subtle and not-so-subtle flavors and textures blending into one of the most interesting and delicious dishes we’ve had anywhere in the past year.
Mill’s Tavern sits at the base of college hill in downtown Providence, and is surrounded by lovely old historic buildings lined with cobblestone streets and mature trees. While they try to evoke a cozy, rustic, tavern feel, the space is also stylish and sophisticated, a great blend of comfortable and elegant, with dark wood and burnished steel accents and subdued lighting. Along the back wall is the open kitchen, and in the corner of the kitchen is the wood-fired oven, the “heart and soul” of the restaurant, which castes a warm flickering light over the dining area. Some of the mouth-watering specialties coming out of the oven on the current autumn menu are pizza with with smoked chicken, buttermilk chive crema, spaghetti squash, crisp bacon and fontina; harissa dusted Atlantic swordfish with black sesame caramelized turnips and yellow pepper ketchup; and seared Long Island duck breast with parsnip mash, sweet and sour cabbage, pickled cherries and orange duck demi glace. We did try the pizza, and it was fantastic: rich and tangy, and similar to Edward’s description of it as a “really really good ranch chicken pizza.” The spaghetti squash on top was a great touch, adding a unique texture and savory sweetness.
Mill’s Tavern also has a beautiful raw bar, with fat sweet littlenecks and Walrus and Carpenter oysters along with house-made smoked bluefish pate and other delicacies from the sea. The charcuterie platter was phenomenal as well, the star of this show being the house-made pheasant and pork terrine with pistachio and fig, which was delicous along with touches of fig jam, mustard, house-smoked blue cheese and other house-cured meats.
We also tried a wonderful autumn mushroom risotto, laden with truffle-flecked cheese and cured forest mushrooms and topped with crispy puffed rice that added a nice crunchy texture. And although not technically a “steak house”, the steaks here are famous throughout town and are gorgeous: thick cuts basted with a herb-seasoned butter, sprinkled liberally with salt and pepper then grilled to perfection on the wood-fires grill. All the food here looks amazing, and the chefs, mostly graduates from Johnson and Wales culinary program, know their stuff and push the flavor envelope well past what most timid palates would expect. But the superlatives don’t stop at the kitchen; Mill’s Tavern has received the Wine Spectator Award of Excellence five years running, and have a fantastic wine selection to pair along with the dishes. And this is just the kind of elegant, flavorful food that begs for the right wine, be it a muscular cab, a buttery chardonnay, or a bright pinot for the more delicate dishes. And they also have an amazing seasonal, creative craft cocktail menu that is delicious. This rustically elegant tavern is serving up some seriously extraordinary food and drinks. Stay tuned as we add more photos and video, and check out the episode “Elevated In Down City” when it hits PBS in mid-winter.
For more info go to the Mill’s Tavern website: www.millstavernrestaurant.com
George’s of Galilee has one foot in the past, and another in the future. The Durfee family, which has owned and operated this spot since the 1940’s, can trace their local heritage, and even some family recipes, back to the 1600’s. For years George’s has been one of the most iconic seafood restaurants in the Ocean State, serving up authentic clam cakes, classic Rhode Island clear-broth chowder, and fresh seafood sourced directly from the fishing docks just steps from the restaurant. And today, George’s continues to set the standard for quality seafood by making a big push towards utilizing local, sustainable fish species such as skate, sea robin, and scup.
These two award-winning restaurants are both owned by the DeQuattro family. Pane E Vino, on the west end of Federal Hill, was opened fifteen years ago and features authentic, classic, Southern Italian cuisine inspired by the DeQuattro’s grandmother, who emigrated from southern Italy to Narragansett back in the early 1900’s. On the other end of Atwell’s, Massimo dishes up modern, regional Italian cuisine from all over Italy, or what the family likes to call “Italy to Table.” Pane E Vino is rustic, dark, and cozy, Massimo is open, bright, and modern. Just like good food with the right wine, they are a perfect pairing and wonderful addition to Federal Hill.
We’re taking you inside this authentic Japanese-style ramen noodle bar, in downtown Newport, Rhode Island, to get the story behind this wildly popular spot on lower Broadway. Broadway Avenue has evolved into one of the most diverse strip of eclectic eateries in the state, with all kinds of cuisine types and atmospheres in a compact neighborhood. Boru Noodle Bar is a delicious addition: the laid-back but funky space features a handful of dishes with tons of flavor. Their house ramen with crispy house-cured pork belly, pickled cabbage, bamboo shoots, and soft-boiled egg, is a local favorite, as is their gorgeous beef ramen bowl, in which finely chopped raw beef and a raw egg cook slowly in the savory “double-soup” broth. We also dive into the Mediterranean Ramen bowl, a nod to owner Casey Shaw’s Portuguese heritage, which features mussels, clams, squid, olives, and peppers in a savory tomato infused ramen broth. There’s not just noodles here, either; the Boru pork bao on steamed buns with hoisin are fantastic, along with the crispy squid dish and the locally famous crispy brussel sprouts with a dark sweet soy glaze. Check out the image gallery below, and be sure to watch the video for the story behind Newport’s favorite noodle shop.
For more info go to: www.borunoodlebar.com
Caserta Pizzeria is famous for their extra-crispy crust, their sauce-on-top style pizza, and the legendary “Whimpy Skippy”, a decadent pepperoni and spinach pie.
In the 1700’s and early 1800’s, Rhode Island, specifically Narragansett Bay, was one of the most productive oyster fisheries on the planet, and fishing and aquaculture drove much of the local economy. But the arrival of the industrial revolution and the mill and textile industries situated on waterways that led into the bay created massive amounts of toxic runoff that wiped out the oyster and fishing industries. But years of diligent clean-up strategies have restored much of the bay, and Rhode Island, with a big push from URI’s aquaculture program, is once again leading the country in aquaculture. Oyster farming is the star attraction, with farms established in various locations around Narraganset Bay, and also in the salt ponds along the shores of South County.
Jeff Gardner established Watch Hill Oysters over twenty-five years ago, on Winnapaug Pond just outside of Westerly. He is one of the fathers of modern Rhode Island aquaculture, and his oysters are sought after the world over. In addition to being a wonderful character, Jeff is a wellspring of knowledge and experience. We spend a day with his hard-working crew and learn all about oyster farming and oysters, and what makes Watch Hill oysters unique. After harvest, we’ll follow the oysters to the world-famous Nordic Lodge, just up the road in Charlestown.
Go to Watch Hill Oyster’s website: www.watchhilloysters.net