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.
In 2011, CBS's the Early Show lauded Iggy's Doughboys and Chowder House for having the best clam chowder in America. Perhaps that?s because each batch is made with clam juice instead of water, with clams added at the very end to ensure tenderness. Or maybe it?s because owner David Gravino whips up the Manhattan-style red chowder using his mother's special recipe. Whatever the cause, the effect is a zesty stew flecked with celery, pepper, garlic, dill, and basil that people have been happy to stand in line for.
Recently celebrating their 25th anniversary, Iggy's, which has also been graced with a recent visit from Nick Jonas and Miss Universe 2012, also dishes out clam cakes, stuffed quahogs, and landlubbing entrees such as burgers and BLTs in a dining room overlooking Narragansett Bay. Housemade root beer and raspberry-lime sodas complement each meal, alongside doughboys?pastries topped with ice cream, cool whip, and powdered sugar. In addition to the main location, there?s a seasonal outpost in Narragansett proper that stays open from March until Columbus Day, the holiday which celebrates Christopher Columbus's discovery of a new world inhabited solely by fish.
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.
China Inn Restaurant's menu is like a gustatory balloon ride over China, exploring different regions and culinary traditions to gain an understanding of the country's myriad subcultures. Cantonese-style dishes, such as saut?ed lobster with a garden-fresh medley of snow peas, bamboo shoots, and water chestnuts, demonstrate favoritism for veggies, whereas the Sichuan and Hunan entrees re-create those cultures? characteristic spices and chilies with incendiary sauces. Mu shi, a traditional Mandarin dish, presents diners with pork, shrimp, or beef and vegetables as well as four Chinese pancakes to scoop up and wrap each bite or envelop a love note to a date.
In contrast to the complexly assembled menu of pan-regional specialties, China Inn Restaurant's dining room embraces a more elegant simplicity. The airy space features a large, central skylight that allows ample sunshine to wash over tables and plates. Chinese pottery adds a distinctive and authentic touch to the decor, whereas leafy plants create a calming, natural ambiance and an ample supply of oxygen to last through the dinner rush.
You would be hard pressed to find a can opener anywhere in the kitchen of Cilantro Mexican Grill. That's because the restaurant's chefs don't need one; they only cook with fresh ingredients. A typical day in their kitchen sees the chefs mashing the nutty flesh of ripe avocados into guacamole, slicing fresh tortillas to be fried and sprinkled with lime juice, and grilling adobo-seasoned chicken, steak, and fresh line-caught Atlantic pollock purchased from local fisherman at the docks of Point Judith, Rhode Island. Local growers get in on the action too, supplying the kitchen with tomatoes and onions. All five locations serve mason jar margaritas and craft beers with the Cranston location finding patrons sipping one of 20+ brews.
For Anthony and Denise Sierra, California-style burritos aren't just a fast and healthy meal. They're a tribute to Mark Tryhubczak, the chef and friend who brought them together. After teaching Anthony and Denise to cook, Mark introduced the couple at his own burrito shop, Block Island Burrito Company. Together, the trio turned the fledgling business into a local gem in the early 1990s. Though Mark has sadly passed away, his legacy lives on through Anthony and Denise's joyful eatery, which helps patrons to build their own memories around plates of nachos and steaming bowls of chili. Anthony handcrafts the entire lineup of edibles each day, making every bite more refreshing than a mentholated dunk tank. Flour tortillas encase seven types of burritos, which teem with seasoned meats and colorful veggies such as bell peppers, sweet corn, and ripe red tomatoes. Instead of gift-wrapping microwaves and trimming sun rays with frosting, guests can celebrate heat waves on the patio while sipping festive margaritas and three types of sangria.