Old Blue Eyes casts his piercing gaze across the red-walled dining room as the opening strains of “Strangers in the Night” drift into the ears of diners seated at tables dressed in white linens. The aura of a refined 1960s club permeates every nook and cranny of Trattoria Roma, thanks in part to the assortment of framed Sinatra records and photos displayed behind the bar and the ever-present Rat Pack tunes playing throughout the day. Since its opening 22 years ago, the eatery's owners have fostered a cozy-yet-refined atmosphere bolstered by authentic Roman cuisine forged from local ingredients. This tradition continued eight years ago when veteran employee Shawn Mason took over the restaurant’s reigns from the original owners. Though he brought his own brand of hospitality to the mix, he made sure to uphold the kitchen’s tradition of high culinary standards.
As Shawn cheerfully chats with regulars scattered throughout the dining room and at the bar, his partner, chef Matthew Prokopchak, can be found architecting Italian eats with his crew in the kitchen. Having grown up learning the conventions of Italian cooking from his mother and aunts, chef Matthew integrates some of his family’s recipes into the menu, imbuing his dishes with a sense of history and tradition. He assembles his arsenal of fresh produce –from lush tomatoes to fragrant basil– from local farms. While the menu remains largely unchanged throughout the year, each night the friendly service staff sidles up to tables to detail the day's seasonal specials via verbal recitations or interpretive dances.
Amid the dining room’s ruby walls, a series of Orfeo Tamburi lithographs depicting post-WWII Rome––reportedly the only complete Tamburi collection in the United States––hang in elegant frames. The décor works in concert with the savory wafts of garlic emanating from the bustling kitchen to evoke a vintage Italian atmosphere.
Included in Rhode Island Monthly's Best of Rhode Island, The Pizza Gourmet accommodates customers with a choice of custom pizzas cooked in-house or raw pies that customers can take home. All pizzas start out as a plate of fresh garlic, olive oil, parmesan, asiago, and italian parsley, but customers can personalize their pies with a multitude of crust, sauce, cheese, and topping options. Although the eatery specializes in pizza, noncircular appetites can be slaked with menu items such as sun-dried tomato pesto penne, italian grinders, and sodas.
The chefs also take their culinary creations out into the world via four theme catering menus, outfitting tailgate parties, corporate breakfasts, and cocktail parties with equal enthusiasm. Food-eaters can customize their catering orders according to dietary needs, as well, including vegan and gluten-free catering options. Inside the restaurant, an exposed-brick accent wall is painted fire-truck red to match the dining room's vivid crimson accents. The walls are covered in a rainbow of handwritten menu options, with entrees, appetizers, salads, and desserts all vying for perfect penmanship awards.
In 1999, Dean and Maria Scanlon turned a space formerly used as a hardware store into a 26-seat restaurant with an eclectic international menu that helped its diners find "freedom from limitations." Since then, L'attitude's cuisine has lured in a steady stream of patrons, who gather around tables for dishes ranging from asian spring rolls and Cajun jambalaya to veggie risotto and a slow-roasted Atlantic salmon large enough to feed two people or one yeti. The Scanlons decided to expand as a result of their casual-yet-upscale eatery's popularity, and have been taking over and renovating adjacent business spaces as they become available. Now on several weeknights, live music and karaoke entertain guests.
Nature is responsible for stimulating all the senses at Cresta Bar & Ristorante, where diners savor fresh ingredients as they bask in the shade on an outdoor patio. Fresh flourishes such as foraged mushrooms and homemade pasta embellish the entrees, which include panko-encrusted cuts of veal and chicken. More than 60 wines pair with the meals so that guests don’t have to determine complementary flavors by licking a color wheel. Diners can eat either inside or on the terrace, where marble-topped tables reflect the leafy branches that criss-cross overhead, leaving matte wrought-iron bistro chairs to lounge on the flagstone patio.
At 2 Pauls City Grille, a restaurant that takes its name from owners Paul Shire and Paul Roidoulis, cooks serve up homestyle American cuisine. Plates of meatloaf, Saugy hot dogs, and macaroni and cheese emerge from the kitchen, carrying with them their familiar, appetizing aromas. "We sure are talking comfort food," wrote one The Providence Phoenix reviewer.
While much of the menu features straightforward and familiar flavors, Shire also draws on an extensive culinary background to prepare more complex dishes. Those range from shrimp mozambique in a beer-and-saffron sauce to braised short ribs with porcini mushrooms in a loosely made ravioli. Liquid offerings are just as extensive?wine, draft beer, and specialty martinis round out the menu.
Patriots Diner is a throwback to the 1950s, a time when restaurants and soda fountains served as important hubs of socialization. The menu there deepens nostalgia with dishes that the owners hope emulates the cooking most people grew up with. Under glowing lights like hanging martini glasses, plates brim with juicy burgers, fish and chips, meat loaf, and pork chops. Coffee cups warm hands next to all-day breakfast offerings of omelets and waffles beneath walls decorated with vintage magazine covers and photos of Christopher Columbus’ wooden scuba flippers. The restaurant’s neon-blue lights are easily seen from the roadside and match the dining room’s royal blue booths and chrome-trimmed stools.