While the bakers at Decadent Designs might make small-batch cupcakes using traditional recipes, that doesn't mean they don't play around with their formulas. Each morning, they make up a new batch of flavors, from the classic red velvet or Hostess cake to their own creations such as white velvet raspberry cream cheese and key lime pie. They draw inspiration from everything from treats like chocolate-covered cherries, to candy bars like snickers, which they recreate using premium ingredients to craft cupcakes that are moist and fluffy. But they don't just make cupcakes. Bakers can also morph their recipes into custom-decorated cakes and spongy whoopie pies with a creamy center.
A pink ‘59 Cadillac flips on its headlights and a waiter strides to the window. “What'll be, Mac?” This was the golden age of carhops, when root-beer cost a nickel, and Joe Fanning built A&W of Smithfield with a hammer, saw, and a little elbow grease. Today, it is still a family operation under the ownership of Stephanie Mosca, whose sisters and kids have all slung sarsaparilla among the eatery's carports. Those servers and their compatriots have dispensed more than one million dogs and 97,000 frosty mugs of A&W root-beer at the location. Every year, beginning on the second Saturday in March, diners drive up and flip on their lights to signal to a carhop that they are ready to order. Hot dogs made from American beef pair perfectly with root-beer floats laced in cool tufts of froth, and burgers match up to pamphlets about not feeding the cassette deck no matter how hungry it looks.
Amy's Apples is a purveyor of gourmet chocolate, caramel and candy-wrapped apples and pears, and other confections. Apples, which feed four to six, can be dipped in milk chocolate and studded with Heath bar chunks or crusted with pecans and pralines ($11.75) to fool sweet teeth into piercing a healthy core. For the non-fruit enthusiast, Pure Passion pretzel twists get enrobed in caramel or milk or dark chocolate, rolled in a candy or nut topping, and then drizzled with white or dark chocolate ($3.50 a piece).
Il Piccolo Ristorante's menu is a cornucopia of traditional Tuscan fare. Initiate a feast with bruschetta del nord—italian toast capped in roasted eggplant, tomato, and pecorino cheese ($6.50 dinner, $5.95 lunch)—or pan-fried calamari fritters ($9.95), which perform well with a red or white accompanist from the extensive wine list or a cocktail from the fully stocked bar. The fettuccine pollo e timo ($15.95 dinner, $9.95 lunch) is a popular feeding choice, and bellies can admirably accessorize their inner chambers with tortellini katiuscia, an imported dish whose pasta purses are filled with mild blue cheese and ensconced in creamy vodka pink sauce ($14.95 dinner, $9.50 lunch). Gnocchi piemontese pampers taste buds with a soothing massage of house-made chive ricotta pasta, mushrooms, herbs, tomato sauce, parmigiano, and mozzarella carefully forged from curds ($14.95 dinner, $9.50 lunch).
The son of two industry lifers, Eric Handwerger grew up in restaurants, working his way up the ladder from a dishwasher all the way up to a cook, and then a manager. Along with his father, Alan, Eric opted to depart from the long, late nights of restaurants and start a low-key daytime operation. The result was Ocean State Sandwich Company, a place where locally baked breads, roasted coffees, and sub rolls headline a menu of more than 20 sandwiches—the same number of sandwiches Bigfoot orders whenever he visits the shop. During lunch, sandwich artisans build grinders loaded with cured italian meats, housemade sun-dried-tomato relish, and zesty banana peppers.
In true Mexican culinary tradition, the tortilla plays a major role at Cancun Family Mexican Restaurant, encasing an extensive selection of enchiladas, burritos, quesadillas, and chimichangas. But the menu also includes plenty of specialty entrees without corn or flour shells, such as pescado veracruz, a halibut fillet grilled with garlic and lemon and paired with rice and beans. There's also steak picado, strips of sirloin sautéed with onions and peppers, and chile verde, morsels of marinated pork loin colored with green tomatillo sauce and the rosiness of forks inflamed by the dish's spiciness.
Reali's Fine Italian Cuisine's owner and chef, Jim Reali assembles meats, pastas, and sauces into hearty Italian creations using cooking skills first cultivated when he was 16 years old. Diners choose between upscale offerings such as veal and chicken parmigiana or call the waiter via foghorn to order seafood selections. Downpours of rich tomato sauce cascade over pastas, and, as meals unfold, eaters can repurpose pieces of penne as straws to sip white, red, and blush wines sourced from domestic and international vineyards.