Places to Visit »Mini Food Tour of Providence

La Laiterie berkshire pork chef's menuWith the culinary school of Johnson and Wales, Providence is perhaps surprisingly, a hotbed of delicious food. On a recent trip back to my college town (where my old apartment building has certainly seen better days) we decided to partake in some new culinary offerings as well as visit some old Federal Hill favorites.

Federal Hill is a landmark area, cluttered with Italian restaurants, markets, and shops. In school we often would stop by Bob and Timmy's and recently had a nice meal at Walters, just two of many spots for pasta. This time we headed to the markets, first stopping by Tony's Colonial Food Store for a meatball sandwich to share and a pack of these lovely Leone Violet candies. The small market is brimming with imported goods and about sixty varieties of olive oil.

Down the street is Constantino's, another market that's much more intense with crowds (which is why we avoided it on arrival after a long car ride) but we went back before heading home with lots of delicious goods like fresh made Walnut and Gorgonzola Ravioli and a Sweet Pumpkin Pesto to go with it. We also picked up home made Torrone, a delight that is immeasurably greater than the boxed version that is readily available. If you get nothing else on your visit to Federal Hill, bring back a square of this nougaty sweet.

Jut around back of the main square you'll find Pastiche for your fine dessert needs. It's not cheap (it was about $12 for two slices of tarts – pecan and apple) but the slices are sharably and very yummy. It's been around for 25 years for good reason.

For a sit down meal we had intended to try the newish and recommended place New Rivers, but they were closed, so we found another fairly new spot called La Laiterie Bistro, a dimly lit, comfy brick restaurant nestled next to a sister reputable cheese shop. It is an excellent addition to the already glowing food scene in town.

We ordered the Berkshire Pork Chef's Whim tasting menu with accompanying beers (not a usual option, but one I'd love to see on more tasting menus instead of wine). The meal began with an IPA and a delectable pork cheek with poached egg, winter vegetable and black eyed pea puree. Next was a terrific, almost sweet multi-grain ale called Sphinx, by Otter Creek (friends, keep an eye out for this at beer shops!) and a filling, salty loin with warm sauerkraut and potatoes. We finished the reasonably priced ($50 with the beers) three course meal with feta, oatmeal crumble and pea shoots paired with the best mead I've ever had from England (not that the stuff at the Ren Faire is that hard to outshine). He also recommended a Danish mead called Viking Blood that I am on a quest to find in New York.

The service was enthusiastic and affable, and La Laiterie is clearly becoming a neighborhood favorite. The place was packed by 6 pm. It's very on trend with an interest in local farming, seasonal foods, and an informal but refined environment where the wait staff dresses impeccably and Belle and Sebastian is piped through the speakers.

See more: Places to Visit

Posted on December 28, 2008

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