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Five Things: Mediterraneo Caffe Restaurant, Providence

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

 

It's a chilly week, and nothing sounded better than some Italian comfort at one of Federal Hill's favorite go-to spots. Sean DeBobes hit the scene at Mediterraneo, and here are the five things he wants you to know.

One. Cheese & Clams.

Mediterraneo features a sheer anthology of practiced appetizers and antipasti dishes. I settled on two. The Mozzarella in Carrozza took house-made mozzarella wedges and lightly breaded them before pan-frying and serving in a savory San Marzano tomato-basil sauce. The cheese was incredibly delicate and served alongside lightly balsamic dressed greens. If a stronger flavor suits you, try the Zuppa di Vongole. Amazingly tender native littlenecks were sautéed in a classic garlic/wine/olive oil sauce with ample chunks of plum tomato. Chunks of grilled bread assured I left not a drop of the delicious jus in sight.

Two. Pasta.

Accolades indeed to the Ravioli All’ Aragosta. These refined pockets of ricotta cheese were brimming with lobster meat. My server did disclose that the ravioli were from Venda, but starting with great ingredients is half the battle. Mediterraneo finished this fantastic dish with a slightly spicy/wonderfully creamy pink mascarpone sauce that was distinguished in its own right.

Three. Pizzazz? Where are you?

Cocktails and desserts… didn’t do it for me. While there may be room for the classic Cosmopolitan and Tiramisu, I yearned for a little more zing in these menu sections for balance.

Four. Dinner… and some.

Many restaurant portions are simply out of control. I don’t always mind. If the cost is still right and the quality is good, why not have tomorrow’s lunch ready to go? And while I found the entrees over-sized, Mediterraneo didn’t skimp on quality or flavor at this scale. I enjoyed a classic chicken parmesan (Cotoletta di pollo nino on the menu). I particularly liked the surprise layer of fried

eggplant and prosciutto lurking just below the flavorful melted cheese. Pound for pound and bite for bite, this standard could stand up with anyone on the block. Another winning entree: roasted pork tenderloin. This little piggy spent time marinating in a honey-dijon and herb mix before  being breaded and expertly roasted. An apple-brandy cream sauce provided a sweet accent.

Five. Nice Finish.

I am swearing off fortune cookies. Mediterraneo has the check-freebie beat with a house-made Limoncello. This welcomed digestif did a fine balancing act between sweet and tart while providing just the right punch.

Would I go back? Yes. But as we all know, Atwell’s has some serious competition in the Italian market. So Mediterraneo, ratchet up those cocktails and desserts a bit.

Hit “Save” Mediterraneo Caffe Restaurant, 134 Atwells Ave, Providence. 331-7760. Mon-Thu 11:30am-9pm; Fri 11:30am-10pm; Sat 11:30am-11pm; Sun 3pm-9pm. Reservations encouraged on weekends.

 

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Comments:

The most egregious tourist trap restaurant in Rhode Island.

From out-of-the-can olives to runny cheese-strangled mystery meat, there is absolutely nothing about this dive worth commending.

Comment #1 by Roy Parson on 2010 11 10

Sorry Roy but I and many others I know would disagree. Mediterraneo is one of the best restaurants in RI. While I agree many tourists visit it that shows how popular it is. And on the many occasions I have eaten there we see a lot of the same faces. Oh and I do need to say the waitstaff is excellent. So this review is 90% on for me.

Comment #2 by Megan Dunes on 2010 11 10

Mediterraneo is boring. I think they made up the menu by asking the first 10 tourists they met what Italian dishes they had ever heard of. It's too bad, because in the summer the al fresco atmosphere is enviable.

Comment #3 by Pam Thomas on 2010 11 12




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