Wrapped in the aromatic embrace of Zona Sul Churrascaria’s smoldering barbecue pit, up to four friends gather over unending portions of Brazilian meats, rice, and vegetables. Diners pile thick slices of meat onto their plates as they gaze in wonder at the crackling sirloin steaks and pork sausages skewered on spits over the flames. Beef ribs line up in rows as foursomes hammer out xylophonic bossa nova songs with their forks, and chicken thighs strut to samba beats on palate dance floors. A bountiful salad bar complements the orchestra of sizzling proteins with rice, green vegetables, and whole onions painted to resemble soccer balls.
In the tradition of hibachi service, the performance chefs at Saga Hibachi Steakhouse & Sushi Bar delight patrons by flipping chopped veggies high in the air and setting meat aflame on tabletop grills. Diners can choose for their meals to be prepared with veggies, chicken, steak, or seafood, or they can opt for entrees such as teriyaki shrimp from the kitchen. Not to be outdone by the hibachi chefs, sushi artists prepare maki rolls in full view of patrons curious about what rice looks like. In addition to the more than 30 rolls, there's also sashimi in cuts of yellowtail, eel, and white tuna.
Though churrasca restaurants are popping up everywhere, Ivan Utrera is generally recognized as the first bold soul to open a Brazilian steakhouse in America, bringing family recipes from his native city of Sao Paulo. For nearly 20 years, Rodizio Grill's teams of gauchos have presented three-foot skewers of rotisserie-grilled meats tableside, giving guests the opportunity to sample as much as they can shake their fork at. The selection of seasoned meats includes picanha com parmesao—sirloin encrusted with parmesan—and frango agri-doce, chicken glazed in a sweet and spicy sauce. The gauchos also present skewered fruits and vegetables, including Rodizio's signature grilled pineapple.
The menu keeps it simple with only a few other embellishments, but they certainly share the spotlight with the churrasca. Unlimited appetizers include polenta and banana poppers, and a gourmet salad bar features whipped potatoes, Brazilian black-bean stew, and grilled veggies with parmesan cheese. Everything is homemade, including the desserts and the specialty limeades concocted from fresh limes and sweet cream. Because the menu is centered on meat and vegetables, 90% of the restaurant's dishes are gluten-free and wouldn't know the first thing about how to approach a carb at a dance party.
Ten Prime Steak & Sushi's executive chef, Lou Cruz, char grills a carnivorous array of hand-cut Prime and Certified Angus steaks. Each one has been aged for a minimum of 28 days and is accompanied by a complex sauce—always made in-house, sometimes via a two-day process. His juicy and flavorful steaks earned the restaurant The Providence Phoenix's best steakhouse award in 2011 and 2012.
Chef Cruz also whips up other specialties with equal care, including house-made meatloaf, swordfish, and velvety day boat scallops. On the lighter side, a full sushi bar serves up colorful nigiri and maki, including one made with Maine lobster, beef carpaccio, and truffle-chili oil. Diners can wash it all down with their choice of specialty cocktails and 14 wines by the glass.
A bastion of northeastern good cheer just off the gaming floor, Wicked Good's lingua franca is professional sports, with priority given to New England teams on more than 25 TV-screens worth of live games, tournaments, and hootenannies. Turn fistfights with clones into friendly meals with a starter basket of hot, breaded mozzarella sticks escorted by savory marinara sauce ($5.99) or the Double Header, which drizzles a pair of Rhode Island's own stuffed quahogs with fresh lemon ($6.99). The Yankee Dipper tops a tender roast-beef sandwich with melted american cheese and duets it with au jus dipping sauce ($9.99). Otherwise, egg on the kidneys' natural team rivalry by chasing a New York Yankee pot roast ($13.99) with the Red Socks, layers of red velvet cake and chocolate truffle filling ($6.99).
Most chefs tend to specialize in a particular cuisine, such as Italian or sushi. Prezo Grille & Bar's executive chef, Tim Vaillette, however, prefers to specialize in a little bit of everything. His main menu runs the gamut from classic American burgers to Barcelona-style swordfish served with rice pilaf. He also draws inspiration from Italy, topping the house-made dough of his thin-crust pizzas with ingredients such as buffalo mozzarella, ricotta, meatballs, and caramelized onions. Tim even dabbles in sushi, preparing specialty rolls such as the bad boy maki, which he coils with spicy salmon, avocado, and spicy mayo before serving it atop a revving motorcycle. To complement Tim's far-reaching menu, Prezo's bartenders serve an extensive selection of cocktails and craft beer, as well as more than 20 wines by the glass and 50 by the bottle.
Feasts unfold in Prezo's upscale, romantically lit dining room or in its similarly lit bar, where four plasma televisions stay tuned to the latest sports game.