Saturday, January 26, 2013

Nick's on Broadway

Chef-owner Derek Wagner is one of the reasons Providence has become such a well-known food destination. His attention to detail, commitment to using to local resources, drive for culinary creativity, dedication to customer service and wonderful food packed with scrumptious flavors keeps us coming back again and again.

Nick's is only four blocks from our house and we often go there for Sunday brunch -- if you go, get there well before 8:30 am unless you want to wait a half or so because it's always jam packed. 

But the other evening my wife and I joined two friends there for dinner, something we had not had at Nick's for far too long. We started with a sparkling wine from the Loire and the evening just got better and better.
Roasted oysters and potato-parsnip gnocchi in a lamb ragout for starters followed by winter root vegetable soup and salad for one, more gnocchi for a second, salad and a side of roasted potatoes for a third and I had the pork shoulder on a bean cassoulet. Everyone agreed the food was truly delightful, loads of flavors, gorgeous colors and just the right portions.  All washed down with a bottle of Jermann chardonnay from Friuli.

Winter root vegetable soup

Potato-parsnip gnocchi with lamb ragout

Pork shoulder over bean cassoulet
Although reasonably priced by Providence standards, Nick's is one of the pricier restaurants on the west side. Still,  we all agreed its a good value and we have now set our sights on returning more often.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Bacaro - nice but expensive

One of the finest "Italian" restaurants in Providence, Bacaro's on South Water Street is almost a stone's throw from that other fine Italian restaurant, Al Forno -- in fact the chef-owner of the former cut his culinary teeth at the latter (and his recipes occasionally show it).

Oddly, though, Bacaro's is often missed by those folks still hung up on Atwell's Avenue, those who love queuing up on a Saturday night waiting 30 minutes to crawl along "historic' Federal Hill looking for parking. Not at Bacaro's -- parking is free and plentiful, the view of the Providence River clean and open, and that's just the beginning.

Bacaro boasts an on-site cheese shop and their own saluminaria, and with seating on two floors we've never had to wait, although they are almost always busy -- indeed, only once in the several times we've gone there have we been turned away without a reservation.

The food is very good, tasty and well-prepared, leaning toward Italian of course but without any specific regional orientation. The portions are generous, and the service spot on: attentive, friendly and helpful. (Monica was our server and she gets a big thumbs up.) An extensive wine list with several options for quaffing a tasty wine. Bacaro is expensive, however (troppo caro) so bear that in mind, and it lacks that cozy atmosphere we appreciate so much of Chez Pascal or Broadway Bistro.
orrechiette with roasted brussell srpouts and pancetta
grilled sausages with roasted spaetzel and red wine braised red cabbage