Friday, June 5, 2009

Review List

I am adding a quick review list that has the star ratings of every place I've ever eaten. Some of the restaurants never received a formal write-up. Formal reviews will be included. The list is alphabetical, not by location.

Al Forno: ****
Rhode Island's most famous restaurant almost meets high expectations. Simple food. Perfectly prepared. Fantastic desserts. Some items are over-priced, including the gimmicky house specialty, the Dirty Steak. Atmosphere is airy and austere.

Arunothai: ***
Good standard asian cuisine in Pawtuxet Village. They hit all the right notes. Free delivery, too.

Aspire: ***
Nothing is bad, but the prices are haute, while much of the food is not. You won't be disappointed, but you won't be impressed, either.

Bagelz: **
Very poor coffee and espresso overshadow a thoroughly collegiate atmosphere and decent food offerings.

Basil's: ****1/2
Rhode Island's best service is the highlight of traditional this French/Continental eatery. Quiet, intimate dining room is a joy. Best Duck A L'Orange for a hundred miles.

Beef Barn: ***
What Burger King would be if it was good. Good shakes, fries, onion rings, all at prices just above free.

Bella Napoli Bakery & Deli: ***
A standard deli, but it gets everything right. Ask for some of their pizza, which is excellent traditional Italian.

Blue State Coffee: ***1/2
One of RI's better cafes. Attractive, modern ambiance, decent selection of food and other drinks, and good coffee lead to disappointment in some uneven espresso drinks.

The Breakfast Nook: ***
A good, standard diner.

Brewed Awakenings: ***
A standard cafe with a wide selection of food. Fruit salads are sometimes poor, and the gelato can get icey. Espresso ranges from decent to terrible. Luckily the drip coffee is good.

Brickway on Wickenden: ***
A great place to get a standard breakfast. I'd go more often if it wasn't packed from open to close.

Caffe Bon Ami: ***1/2
A very good cafe that does nothing amazing, but nails everything they set out to do.

Cafe Fresco: ***
Good Italian/continental food and a pleasantly hip atmosphere satisfy.

Cafe Nuovo: ***1/2
Lots of early hype has faded, and Nuovo is still around. Recipes are sometimes ill-conceived, and the wine list is comically expensive, but the food is never bad, and the RISD-like desserts are an utter treat and total deal at only $9.

Cafe Zog: **1/2
It's your basic cafe with sandwiches and decent coffee. The layout of the kitchen is very poor, and because of that, service can be shockingly slow. I'd rather go to Thayer Street.

Cav: ****1/2
Easily RI's most interesting dining area, CAV's food almost measures up. The lunch menu is good, and brunch is a treat. The dinner menu doesn't change too often, but special's are usually worth a try.

Chipotle: ***1/2
The best fast food that I've ever had. On the pricey side, but well worth it.

The Coast Guard House: ***
A magnificent dining area and view are tempered by incredibly uneven preparation and ingredient quality.

Coffee & Cream: **1/2
Acceptable diner with late-night hours. Food prep can be shoddy.

Coffee Exchange: ****
Rhode Island's best cafe. A wide selection of house-roasted coffee, Gregg's desserts, and locally baked cookies and treats combine with consistently excellent espresso. The crowd is very urban-hipster, which is both annoying and enjoyable.

Le Crêperie: ***
A well-prepared variety of crêpes. Very small, and the prices are high, but the selection is unmatched.

Don Jose Tequila's: *
A massive disappointment. Cold food. Bland. Tough meat. Almost everything was wrong.

Duffy's Tavern: ***
A good local haunt for freshly caught seafood.

East Side Pockets: ***
Very well-prepared falafel and wraps. Good prices to boot.

E&J's Breakfast: *1/2
Spartan dining area, Bisquick pancakes, and dirty plates equals epic fail.

Eleven Forty Nine: ***1/2
Urban food and suburban prices, sort of. Everything is well-prepared. Recipes are nothing special. Ingredients are generally good. The house-made desserts taste are uneven, with some being very well-executed, with others tasting like they were out of a freezer.

Emilio's Bakery: ****
The best coronets on Earth, great cheesecake, and an enormous selection of other tooth-rotting bits of paradise. Dry cakes and sometimes over-baked cookies ruin the party.

Fadó Irish Pub: ***
Decent place for a quick bite. Great grilled cheese, fries, and a wide selection of beers are all good. Boxties are unique, but a bit pricey.

Felicia's Coffee: **
Abysmal espresso and coffee ruin a good selection of foods and coffee beans.

Five Guys Burger and Fries: ***1/2
The best fast food burger that you can buy. Very loud, intense dining area.

Frank & John's from Italy: ****
The best traditional Italian pizza in Rhode Island. A gem.

Fred & Steve's: ****
Large cuts of meat and massive side dishes match the plush interior very well. Service is good. Better than Ruth's Chris and Capital Grille, but falls to the superior Providence Prime.

The Garden Grille: **1/2
Conceived as well as I suppose they could be. The recipes never fully transcend the self-imposed limitations of vegetarian/vegan food. Flavors can be two-dimensional and bland. Still, it's certainly adequate, and if you're a vegetarian, this is likely the best you'll ever get.

Gillian's Ale House: **1/2
Good local haunt with good bar food. The house-made corned beef is excellent.

The Governor Francis Inn: ***
Good local restaurant. Fair prices, well-prepared standard food, and a nice atmosphere make it a good stop if you're driving through or live in the area. The clientele is elderly and the food is a bit bland to match. Still, it's satisfying.

Gracie's: ****
Fantastic place. Romantic dining area. The dynamic menu is loaded with excellent-quality ingredients and serving sizes are generally perfect. Some prices are a bit silly, like $13 for maybe twenty house-made gnocchi. One of Rhode Island's best.

Gregg's: ***1/2
One of RI's best standard restaurants. A massive menu of sandwiches, roasts, salads, bar food, and desserts guarantees you'll find something to eat.

Grille on Main: ***
One of Pinelli Marra's restaurants, Grille on Main has some great food, a hopping bar, and nice dining area.

India: ****
Rhode Island's best Indian food. It's non-traditional, but I like that. Very well-prepared, with great ingredients.

International Zone at URI: ***
Standard sandwich shop. Good falafel. The ice cream can be a bit icey.

The Italian Village: ***
The very definition of local Italian place. Everything meets expectations. Serving sizes can be comically large.

J's Deli: ***1/2
A perfect deli. The selection is large. Ingredients are good. Prices are low. What else do you need?

Java Madness: **1/2
The view is great, the coffee and espresso are not. The sandwich selection is good, and college students get a discount, but the crap smoothies and espresso make this hard to recommend.

Jitters Cafe: ***
Jitters rules the take-out crowd in North Kingstown. Excellent bagel and muffin selection disappears early. Baked goods are acceptable. Espresso is usually decent, as is the drip coffee.

Jim's Deli: ****
Huge, cheap sandwiches are only part of the charm. Misspelled signs, an utterly gigantic selection of seemingly everything, and friendly service make this place the best deli for miles.

Junction Trattoria: ***
First a pizzeria, now a trattoria, it's all good. The sandwiches and pizza satisfy, but the pre-packaged desserts are disappointing.

Lemongrass: **1/2
Touts their many awards. I don't know for what. Sweet & sour stuff is heavy on the batter, rice is bland, meats are tough. Overall, it's more than adequate, but not something to seek out.

Local 121: ***
Beautiful interior slams into good but over-priced food.

Lucce: ***1/2
The dining area is hilariously small, but the food is good and the prices are fair.

Main Street Coffee: ***1/2
I got perfectly formed latte art.

Mediterraneo: **
A huge disappointment. Everything but the pork loin was inadequate. After dinner, house-made limoncello was great, though.

Mozzarella's: ***
Standard neighborhood restaurant sort of deal. Good menu, good prices, good atmosphere. I prefer Gregg's.

Oak (Nero's Restaurant Oak): **1/2
Dishes lack any spice. Nice atmosphere, good service, quality ingredients, but the food is just bland and unbalanced.

The Oak Hill Tavern: ***1/2
The low prices and excellently prepared ribs mean this place is a must-try for BBQ lovers.

Ozzi's Steakburgers: ***
Really tasty burger joint. Wide selection of toppings, good meat, shakes and floats, it's A&W if A&W was better. Service isn't very good or fast, though. Fries are usually really soft. Parking and leaving is a nightmare. If you live in the area, this should be your burger destination.

Pagoda Inn: ***1/2
The best Chinese food in town until Seven Moons showed up. Beef teriyaki is sometimes tough, and sweet & sour chicken/pork is sometimes fried to a hard block of inedible cement. Crab rangoons are my favorite in all of RI.

Pal's Restaurant: ***1/2
Very low prices, great food, the epitome of an excellent local haunt. A wide menu and friendly service are bonuses. Desserts are decent, and the alfredo sauce is a bit watery.

Pane e Vino: ****
My favorite Italian food in RI. They have an amazing Italian wine list.

Pastiche: ****
Beyond-good desserts. Save room at dinner for this place. The coffee is good, as are other drinks, but the espresso is questionable. Sometimes it's decent, others it's downright bad.

Paulie Penta's: ***
A good deli.

Pot au Feu: ***1/2
Good bistro, with too-dim lighting. Upstairs "salon" has excellent service and ambiance. Very good, French food with competitive prices.

The Pump House: ***
A disappointment considering its Red Rooster lineage. It's very bland, but well-made standard continental/American fare.

Rasoi: ***
The food is more traditional than India, but prep and ingredient quality left me wanting. Gristle and tough bits in the chicken surprised me. The naan is fantastic, though.

Rue De L'Espoir: ***1/2
Good brunch, good dinner, good French food.

Sea View Station: **1/2
Standard breakfast joint. Ingredient quality is dodgy at times, but nothing bad.

Scramblers: ***
A good, standard diner.

Seven Moons: ***
A very wide selection of Asian food and good sushi make this likely the best one-stop-Asian-shop in RI.

Seven Stars Bakery: ****
Fantastic bread, baked goods, and espresso make this place a must-visit for Providence residents.

T's: ***1/2
The best breakfast joint around. Good prices, large, clean dining area, and a dynamic specials menu are all excellent.

Taste of India: ***
An, um, Indian restaurant. Everything is quality. Some of the curries are too oily. The meat is of good quality. Service is very good. Their recipes are different, which is good.

Tavern by the Sea: ***
A satisfying place with fresh ingredients, good service, and a wide open al fresco dining area with views of Wickford.

Three Sisters: ***
Good sandwiches, ice cream, and espresso make Three Sisters a good default place to eat.

Trattoria Simpatico: ***
High prices don't jive with some horribly executed meat dishes and uninventive and/or poorly executed desserts. Pasta is fantastic, though, as is the excellent al freso dining area.

Tricia's Tropigrille: ***1/2
Our own little slice of the Caribbean. Good prices, dining area, and selection are nice. Dessert list is a piece of paper in a bottle (cute). Very simple desserts, very cheap, and very good.

Twist: **1/2
Specials are a mixed bag. Drink selection is good. Food is the same as Pinelli Marra's other restaurants for more money.

The Village Hearth Bakery: ****
Possibly southern Rhode Island's best cafe. Bakery is amazing. Dining area is great. Must try.

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