Wednesday, December 3, 2014


Instructors for winter 2015 classes at Al Forno (577 South Main, Providence  401-273-9760) are Chefs David Reynoso, Phil Niosi and Neil Temkin. Classes are all on Saturdays, noon to 3:00 p.m. and include a multi-course meal. $75.

January 17: Winter Braises
January 24: Secrets to Success with Hand-Formed Pizza
January 31: Italian Frying
February 14: Decadent Desserts
February 28: Simple Techniques and Recipes for Preparing Chicken
March 7: Antipasto Abbondanza
March 14: What to do with Less Common Types of Meat
March 21: Pasta Three Ways

Call Suzette or Rob: 401-273-9767

Wednesday, November 12, 2014


The demise of French pastry classes at The French Tarte in Pawtucket (actually, the demise of the whole business) caused me to look around and see who else is cooking in Rhode Island. Cooks know the Al Forno site for classes so enough about them. Some other offerings you hear about are tough to assess - chefs/bakers are unknown or restaurants not impressive - but if you spend anytime downtown or at Gracie's ( you will know about Ellie's Bakery (61 Washington Street, Providence  401-228-8118).
bryan ochalla

Here's your opportunity to work hands-on with Melissa Denmark and Allison Hertz, discovering how to create macarons or, if you are experienced, how to hone your skill with decorating techniques and more exotic flavors. Not obsessed with macarons? Learn to make pâte à choux and go on an éclair binge. Or learn basic cake-decorating, bread-baking, pie-making, and more.

Classes are mostly $85 a session except for Macaron classes which are $100. Some are two hours long, most are three.

Check out Ellie's website  and make  plans now for 2015.

Friday, October 3, 2014


Here's a barbeque where you relax and let Jake Rojas, (Tallulah on Thames), Derek Wagner (Nicks on Broadway), David Reynoso (Al Forno), Matt Gennuso (Chez Pascal), Champe Speidel (Persimmon) and a big etc. of chegs do the cooking. Of course, there will be ample Rhode Island wine, beer, cocktails and soda (if you need tea and juices bring them along). Lots of music provided by: Smith & Weeden, Haunt the House, Honkytonk Nights and kitchen band, Turn for the Wurst.

All on the pond at Schartner Farms ( in Exeter

Come with chairs and/or blankets

Saturday   October 19  4:00 - 7:00 p.m.

Adults $68    Youth 11-17 $25     Little kids free

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


The formerly Teeny, tiny Birch (200 Washington Street, Providence  401-272-3105), which has its own fine chef (Benjamin Sukle), gives over to Mark Ladner ( of Del Posto ( in NYC for a dinner on Monday, September 29  between 5:00 and 9:00 p.m. It's a tasting menu at $150 including tax and tip. Optional beverage pairing is $65. Portions of the proceeds go to the Rhode Island Food Bank. Selling out fast!

Monday   September 29    Reserve at

Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Al Forno (577 South Main, Providence 401-273-9760) cooking classes are limited to 15 persons; they sell out in a flash. The cost is $75 and for that you learn technique from Al Forno's own chefs (as well as guests), then feast on the results. Classes are held on Saturdays from noon to 3:00 p.m.

Dates and featured farms are:

September 13 - Viva Mexico! Poblano Farm with Al Forno chef David Reynosa with his sister, Olivia

September 20 - White Barn Farm of Wrentham, MA

October 4 - Allen Farms , Westport, MA

October 11Walker Farm of Little Compton, RI

Nov. 8 - Dame Farm, Johnston, RI

Nov. 15 - Getting Ducky with D'Artagnan

Nov. 22 - Ferolbink Farm, Tiverton, RI

Call Rob White to register:  401-273-9760

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Most everybody knows that Gracie's in downtown Providence (194 Washington Street  401-272-7811) runs the Star Chef Series. In the last couple of years some pretty notable chefs have created dinners there. On August 11, a very local and well known chef, Bruce Tillinghast, beloved former owner of New Rivers ( will be the star in charge. Good news!

$125 per person before tax & tip

Call Gracie's to reserve (401) 272-7811


When Trafford (285 Warren Street, Warren  401-289-2265) first opened it seemed cavernous to me, and under-designed. Our first dinners weren't notable - disappointing because Warren needs this literal lift (the restaurant is two stories) to its dining scene and Trafford has excellent views of water, boats and pretty homes, winter and summer. Everyone wants to get close to the water and seats by the windows go fast but the whole place, upstairs and down, gives you a seaside feeling. Anyone who has ever dined on the water in Warren knows that it's especially fun on race nights when, if you're really early, you can watch boats set out or, later, watch them sail in with the setting sun. The waterway is narrow here, near enough to almost touch.

There have been decorating tweaks since those first visits and though Trafford doesn't deliver any culinary knock-outs (it's not a place where the waitstaff tells you the origin of every dish, e.g., where your clams were 24 hours ago) but it consistently serves good enough fare at non-outrageous prices. It's a menu to put you in a summer mood - lots of chowder, mussels, lobsters and salads, stuffies too. Of course, burgers and steaks. Gluten-free options too. No pressure to order big. And the drinks are good, with a couple of silly but fun martini-type drinks that aren't yucky sweet. They are totally agreeable about altering the drinks to suit you.

Maybe the best news is that Trafford is open for lunch everyday and for breakfast (8:00 a.m.) on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014


The popular Vanderbilt Grace (41 Mary Street, Newport  401-846-6200) is mixing Cubanos and serving yuka fries and lava cake in its garden at 5:30 p.m. this Friday, June 27. Then the party moves a block to the Jane Pickens Theater (49 Tuoro Street) for VIP seating at the 7:00 p.m. screening of the popular indy hit CHEF. Tickets are $35. Call 401-846-6200 to reserve.

Friday, May 23, 2014


This has nothing to do with food or restaurants but food people do like to nose around other peoples' houses and gardens. Three local and semi-local opportunities:

Westport Art Group's Artists in the Garden tour: See lovely gardens, artists at work, eat a terrific boxed lunch at one of the gardens, and maybe buy a painting. This is a mid-week event, Wednesday, June 11.

Stonington Garden Club tour: Visit the astoundingly beautiful town of Stonington, CT and tour local gardens June 13th and 14th, 10:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Providence Preservation Society's annual house and loft tour: On Saturday June 13th, visit historic homes around Cooke Street on the East Side. Take a look at Cooke Street and you'll see why this could be a great tour. The Preservation tours are always a mixed bag, i.e., one house may be over-the-top interesting to see (and give you shelter envy) and another will be an artsy mish-mosh (and give you solace), but worth the ticket. On Sunday, June 14th, tour the Pearl Street lofts and see amazing spaces.


For Rhode Islanders West Side usually means Federal Hill. If you're young, or reasonably hip, or a foodie, West Side means Broadway. Venture farther still and try Loie Fuller's (1455 Westminster Street, Providence  401-273-4375), a bar resplendent with Art Deco woodwork and painting.

Dinner here is bistro fare featuring about ten main courses: a couple of steaks, duck, maybe bass,  scallops, something with chicken and always vegetarian choices. Small plates include excellent salads (lardon aplenty), snails, mussels and frites. A little high in the calorie count but that's comfort food. And it's good comfort. The dining room, open to the bar, is just a fraction up the dress scale from neighborhood bar - casual, it just happens to evoke Piaf and give the sense that it's okay to linger.

You see all kinds of people here, young to old (no tots). Prices are reasonable, main courses range from $15 to $21, but it's common to see a table of "graduate student types" (my, probably totally inaccurate, catch-all phrases for young, interesting-looking persons who don't look rich) eating appetizers and drinking beer.

A plus for me is that the bartender knows what he's doing and can mix modern no-nonsense cocktails (i.e., not the sweet trash served at 95% of local venues).

Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Mother's Day brunch is not exactly a perfect idea.  As the recipient of a holiday gesture I think I'd prefer to be outdoors, nibble croissants and such (, drink a gin and tonic, and watch other people weed my garden.

But brunch is what we've come to favor and since breakfast food may be the only fare that  opinionated groups (offspring/in-laws/small ones) can agree on, brunch is kind of a sane idea.

Here's a venue with a celebratory feel to it: CAV (1414 Imperial Place, Providence). It's pretty, a bit quirky, and is so hidden-around-the-corner that East Siders and non-Providence people often overlook it. Brunch begins at 10:00 a.m. and runs to 4:00 p.m. (when dinner menu begins). Nice place. Reserve ahead.   401-751-9164


Mother's Day is May 11th. Do not buy supermarket chocolates for your mother. When she sees the Lake Champlain tag she'll know you ran out to Whole Foods at the last minute. And unless you plan to dig the hole yourself don't buy a lilac bush either. Instead, drive up to Garrison Confections Factory Store in Central Falls (72 Ledge Street) and spend some money on a box of tiny perfect chocolates. Be generous, buy a big box. Or treat her to Garrison's delicious chocolate-covered ginger.

Garrison is open now through May 10, 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. except Sunday. It's wise to call first so you are not left knocking at the door.  401-725-0790

Wednesday, April 9, 2014


not rare just old ... photo by Visitor7
Julians (318 Broadway, Providence  401-861-1770) is holding a vintage beer dinner Sunday, April 20, 6:00 p.m. They'll pair courses with "rare" (their word) beers. Price is $99 plus tax and tip. Must reserve!


Decorations are better than ever on the sugar view-eggs available at Simple Pleasures (6 Richmond Square, Providence  401-331-4120) this year. The little rodents are especially cute but there's a  knockout frog egg too and some traditional flowery ones. Yes, expensive, and who but an insane eight-year-old would actually want to eat one, but sooo much fun to behold. Also for sale: fancy jelly beans, chocolate eggs and caramels.

Friday, April 4, 2014


The Eat Drink RI Festival runs four days, starting Thursday, April 24 with a multi-course dinner created by eight top Rhode Island chefs who are Johnson & Wales graduates along with eight faculty members. This takes place at Gracie's (host/owner Ellen Slattery). Then on Friday the action moves to the Bank of America Center at Kennedy Plaza (think ice rink) where the Rhode Island Community Food Bank holds a Truck Stop benefit. On Saturday the Grand Tasting at the Biltmore is a party with seminars and over forty tasting "vendors." The event closes on Sunday with a two-seating brunch, also at the Biltmore.

Go to or to Facebook for the time and cost details of each event.

It's all about Rhode Island chefs who are featured throughout. The truck list for the Food Bank's party is terrific and this is a good cause. Think about it!


You know how it works so just go to the site ( for a complete list of who's offering what deals, from today through Sunday, April 13. Important info, for me, is seeing which Jamestown and Bristol restaurants are in. Jamestown Fish is participating and all the popular names in Bristol, including tony Persimmon and Hourglass Brasserie, offer special menus.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


Karen Covey, food writer, cook and author of The Coastal Table, will be the next guest of the Brown Faculty Club and the Brown Bookstore in its Author Series. These events, held at the club (1 Magee Street, Providence) are always free and open to the public but reservations are recommended - 401-863-3023

Wednesday, April 2    5:00 - 6:30 p.m.

Brown Faculty Club    1 Magee Street


If you live in Rhode Island you know about GREGG'S (

Persons you like, persons who appear to have reasonable food tastes, will say: Gregg's has a great lobster roll,  or Did you know Gregg's has pastry chefs from Johnson & Wales? or, Gregg's is a price performer. Since opening it's first place in Warwick in 1972 Gregg's has expanded its business, adding restaurants in East Providence, Providence and North Kingstown. They look like big Friendly's or Newport Creameries, landscaped with parked cars, appealing in that way that says to you, come in, forget your diet, drink a chocolate shake, eat a BLT, nobody has to know.

So, the lobster roll was ordered and a slice of giant weirdly-colored layer cake selected and neither was particularly good. A second lobster roll on a second visit, just to make sure, was not impressive - a not-good bun was filled with over-cooked claw meat and accompanied by not-good fries. Does $16.95 make a lobster roll a price performer if it isn't good? Hardly. There are so many good lobster rolls nearby; you do not need this. Regarding the cake, if you have ever frequented NYC diners and tried a dessert from the rotating circular glass case of seven-inch cakes and fat lemon meringue pies piled with whipped cream you'll get the picture - all promise, no taste delivery. Roasted chicken was cooked about two hours too long and served on squishy stuffing. Pasta with fried calamari was poor (okay, so maybe not a wise choice in the first place). Bare, naked steamed broccoli was the best item on the table.

I don't think Gregg's is a price-performer. It doesn't perform. I can live with Walmart decor and a lousy waitress if the fare satisfies my inner urge for comfort food but Gregg's doesn't satisfy.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014


The Dorrance (60 Dorrance St, Providence  401-521-6000) celebrates Mardi Gras on March 4 with a Fat Tuesday party. Drink Hurricanes and Sazeracs, dine on Cajun food (Po' Boys and Gumbo, etc.) and cut into a King cake ( for dessert. Music begins at 8:00 with Travis Colby & Friends ( playing New Orleans jazz.

Call for details:  401-552-6000

• Apparently nobody is fasting on Ash Wednesday, March 5, at Ocean House (1 Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill  401-315-0579) which is hosting a Farm & Vine dinner at 7:00 p.m. The chef, Jean François Bruel, is working with Four Story Farm (PA) ingredients and pairing dinner with Frog's Leap (CA) wines. $95 before tax and

Reserve via the link or call 401-552-2588

Monday, February 17, 2014


After sampling a fair amount of Providence pizza including famous name slices on Federal Hill, I've settled on Fellini Pizzeria (166 Wickenden St, Providence  401-751-6737) as the go-to place. In the company of guests and friends I've made regular pilgrimages to Fellini's in the last couple months, too regular, enough that should I make a Lenten resolution it will be: No Fellini pizza.

It doesn't help that I pass Fellini's all the time - it's on my walking route, seconds from the gas station, adjacent to art supplies, across from Adler's Hardware and visible every single time I exit 195 for South Main. What's so great about it? For starters, the super thin whole wheat pizza crust, crust that nobody leaves uneaten on the plate. Plain old pepperoni pizza is excellent here but a slice of steak and scallion is my favorite. And there's Philly steak and white pizza which is garlic-infused and really good. You can order any combination you want but if you're a walk-in looking for a single slice it's fun to just try what's on the shelf.

Open every day   166 Wickenden Street    401-751-6737

Friday, February 7, 2014


Ladurée believes in bigger, better, splashier. It's new SoHo shop opened this week at 396 West Broadway (at Spring Street, which makes it very close to Balthazar's take-out ginger tea - easily world's best). It's a macaron and pastry shop and  serves breakfast, lunch, teas and dinner - fully equipped so you can eat an omelet, nibble sweets and wash all down with scotch if you're so inclined. Even a garden. Perfect for SoHo, tourist mecca for all Europeans.

Ladurée    396 West Broadway   855-5238733

Thursday, February 6, 2014


Garrison Confections is opening its factory store in Central Falls (72 Ledge Street  401-725-0790) for Valentine sales, right now through February 14th (but not Sunday). The factory shop is

open from 11:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Fun to visit - funny how you don't realize chocolate-covered something or other (ginger, for example) is needed until the temptation is in front of you. Garrison Confections is also selling at Teas and Javas in Wayland Square and Garden City.


"Baking by Hand" authors Andy and Jackie King will be at Books on the Square (471 Angell Street, Providence  401-331-9097) Saturday, February 15 at 4:00 p.m. The Kings operate A&J King Artisan Bakers in Salem, MA ( and they believe you too can mix, knead and create organic breads, no machinery required.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Two possibilities for a Valentine dinner Friday, February 14:

For north state, Providence-style hipsters, Julians (318 Broadway, Providence  401-861-1770) offers two seatings (6:00 and 9:00 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. for anybody over 40?) for a six-course spread accompanied by disco. Good price: $99 for a couple. Call Julian's ( to reserve, 401-861-1770

For South County big spenders, Ocean House (1 Bluff Avenue, Watch Hill  888-552-2588) will have a special five-course menu from 5:00 p.m. to 9:30 on the 14th. It's $95 per person before tax and tip (optional wine pairing is $40 per person). On Saturday the 15th dinner is at 7:00 p.m. and diners hear a concert performance of Salt Marsh Opera ( Price is $125 per person plus t&t. Call Ocean House ( to reserve, 888-552-2588

Valentine's Day by John Callcott Horsely known not for valentines but for creating the first Christmas card in 1843

Friday, January 17, 2014


Gracie's (194 Washington Street, Providence  401-272-7811) is hosting a Grey Sail ( beer dinner on Thursday, January 23. Chef Matthew Varga  and pastry chef Melissa Denmark will pair their four courses with Grey Sail (of Westerly, RI) beers. Alan Brinton of Grey Sails will do the beer chats. It's $80 per person plus tax and tip.

Call 401-272-7811 to reserve or email

January 23   6:00 p.m.   $80 + tap & tip

Friday, January 10, 2014


Trinity Rep's fund raiser on Saturday, January 25 (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) is a wine-tasting. The night is casual, dancing encouraged (Superchief Trio provides the music). Bottles Fine Wine ( runs the wine-tasting and the food is provided by Nicks on Broadway (, Chez Pascal (, The Grange (, Walrus and Carpenter Oyster ( and Russell Morin Fine Catering ( Good list.

Tickets are $75 

Call Trinity Rep (401-351-4242 ) or pick up at the box office (201 Washington Street)


Doherty's Irish Pub (342 East Avenue, Pawtucket  401-725-1800). Maybe it was the broken seat spring but I don't think so. Revisiting Doherty's I found the burger and other semi-junk fun food selected worthy of a 3 on a 1 to 10 scale. Too bad.

Sunday, January 5, 2014


Starting today, January 5, running through Saturday, January 18, it's your civic duty to dine out.  Forget the fact that you have done nothing but eat for weeks. Get a Fitbit and walk giant loops from Blackstone Blvd to Hope to Wickenden and back again to the boulevard, or walk from the top of Wickenden to the top of Federal Hill and back (this is a fun route if you wind your way via Olga'a, shops on Westminster, over to the convention center and up Atwells Avenue - carry a backpack for purchases). Or do your atoning on a treadmill.

But stay in shape so you can enjoy good offerings guilt-free. Restaurants all over Providence (with the notable exception of the west of 95 clique), near Providence, and all the way to Matunuck are participating. The general deal: $14.95 for a three-course lunch, $29.95 for a three-course dinner. True, some restaurants offer slim pickings (menu-wise and in some cases, literally) but others are out to seduce you. And if you've ever had the urge to go to one of the famous steak houses (e.g. Capital Grille or Ruth's Chris) now's the time.

Here's one you shouldn't miss: Matunuck Oyster Bar (629 Succotash Road, Matunuck  401-783-4202 Matunuck Oyster Bar is open all day, every day from 11:30 a.m. The restaurant week menu is comprehensive and the place is fun. Crowded too (that's an understatement), so choose your time.

The list of participating restaurants is good - take a look (

Osias Beert: Still Life with Oysters