Greater City Providence

Providence Restaurant Wish List

1cuisineAs we look forward to 2009, I thought I would chime in with my cuisine wish list for 2009. Unfortunately, my wish list tends to look the same from year-to-year except this year, two items shockingly came off the list: Authentic Japanese noodle shop (Ebisu, near the PVD/Cranston line, and Noodles 102 in Fox Point) and a dedicated bubble tea joint (Bubble Tea House, in the West End’s Canonicus Square).

Are you a chef or entrepreneur looking to do something different in our city? Looking to stand out, get attention, and have absolutely NO competition? Here’s where to look:

TAPAS: Sure some people throw Cuban Revolution, Tini’s (possibly valid), or some local bars/clubs into this category, but there’s no restaurant (Spanish-influenced or otherwise) devoted to this genre, which has now been around so long that it’s mainstream in most cities (and bordering on passe in others, but has passed us completely). Best locations: Downtown or West Side.

ETHIOPIAN: This genre, favoring large groups dining together around large plates as well intimate settings with two people feeding each food over shared dishes, this tasty, often inexpensive cuisine would seem to be a slam-dunk in our college-dominated city. I think that if a restaurant opened near Brown or downtown near RISD/J&W it would mint money, but what do I know?

JEWISH DELI: While the local Jewish community is only modestly sized, i think a strong, authentic Jewish/NY themed eatery would have huge crossover appeal and do very well. Along the 95 corridor, there’s essentially none between the ones in Brookline and NYC (OK, there’s one in Westville, CT, but who’s going there?). Traditionally having huge portions at modest prices, it’s also economy friendly. Being truly Kosher would be a bonus, but might not fly economically (higher prices). Best places: Hope street retail area, Wayland Square, or Thayer. Wildcard location: Downtown either on Westminster or highway visible/accessible (service road, former RISD-Works) to get highway travelers if it’s going the Kosher route.

VEGETARIAN: I’ve long wondered how such a progressive, Earthy-crunchy, college-dominated city seemingly having as many vegetarians as it does could have only one dedicated vegetarian restaurant (Garden Grille, thankfully a great option for all). Thankfully, all restaurants now offer more vege friendly options, but I would still think there’s a market… Maybe not?

GREEK: Withholding comment on Andreas on Thayer, let’s just say that I think there’s room for another well done entry in the Providence market…

DESSERT RESTAURANT: I was sad to hear Finale reversed/held their decision on opening in the Waterplace Towers downtown (although I wonder if they would reconsider now that BCBS’s headquarters are being built there) since I think the Providence metro is more than primed and ready for an alternative to the outstanding (but tinny-tiny and conservative) Pastiche. The diminutive Federal Hill eatery may have the Italian after-dinner specialties perfected, but there’s far in the dessert universe that many crave…

What do you think of the list? Any other recommendations? Post on them in the comments section…

Bret Ancowitz


  • I’m amazed this this city has no good delis, Jewish or otherwise. I’m not much of a Ricotti’s fan, but am I the only person that wants a decent sandwich once in a while?

    And there used to be a really great Tapas place on Pocasset Avenue, which closed maybe a year ago. Good food, nice people. Only problem, I guess, is that they were on Pocasset Avenue.

  • There’s Rein’s Deli in Vernon, CT, which is a pretty good Jewish deli, but not really near anything. Also, Westville is actually a neighborhood of New Haven with a large Jewish population. Neighboring Woodbridge also has a large Jewish population. But I digress… I do agree with you on the Jewish deli. There is a large Jewish population here.

    I would love to see a good Greek place. I haven’t been to Andreas, but Gabriel’s Pizza on Broadway is Greek and serves some Greek food, though it tends to be a little underwhelming (I do like his pizza though). When my wife was in grad school in Philly, there was a place near Penn called the Greek Lady, basically like a fast food type Greek place, that made awesome gyros, spanakopita, and baklava. I would love to see a place like that around here. I crave gyros every now and then (true gyros, made with lamb) and while Gabriel’s is ok for it, I generally desire a bit more flavor.

    I would love to see Scialo Bros. open up a cafe. Libby’s in New Haven has a small cafe in it that’s fun to stop by at night or after dinner. Scialo’s would make a killing if they had something like that. They’re easily my favorite bakery in the city.

  • What about that place just south of 729 Hope Street, you know across from the library? That place couldn’t be more Jewish.

    Then there’s Not Just Desserts, which, of course, is just desserts. That’s a few blocks north on Hope.

    If you wanna get your gabbagool on (capicola), order an “Al Italia” at Sandwich Hut (No. Main).

    Lastly, there’s a new place opening (has opened?) on Main St Pawt that is African, but West African. Nigerian I think.

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