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Rhode Island’s Best Ethnic Markets

Thursday, February 24, 2011


Rhode Island has long been a melting pot of great ethnic markets. Today that pot is as diverse - and tasty! - as ever. Ann and Michael Martini ventured out to see what was new and fresh at these 6 ethnic markets. 

Asiana Food Market, East Providence

Although it is tucked into a tiny little space, the Asiana Food Market crams every corner with the most unique selection of Korean and Japanese foods in the state. Produce such as bok choy, pea pods and lemongrass mingles with all types of rice and dried teas. Totally a mom-and-pop kind of store—you will often be able to persuade the owner to heat up a vegetable and pork bun for you. The homemade kim chi is by far the best we've tasted and the pickled daikon is the perfect complement to some pork and purple yam noodles. And while we don't really get the whole Hello Kitty thing, if you need to stock up they have quite the assortment. 92 Warren Ave, East Providence, 438-9992.

Mi Quisqueya, Providence

The Providence Healthy Corner Store Initiative began in 2010 with the mission to bring fresh, local, healthy food to local corner stores and markets. Mi Quisqueya was one of the first markets to join the initiative, partnering with Farm Fresh Rhode Island and Confreda Farms to bring in super-fresh, local, affordable produce. Mi Quisqueya adds this fresh produce to its incredible selection of Mexican ingredients to offer locals (and those in the know) the chance to see a different side of Mexican food. Why would we buy a jar of salsa when we could grab fresh tomatoes, peppers, onions and cilantro and blend our own? We wouldn't and you shouldn't either. 933 Broad St, Providence, 785-9570. 

Sonia's Near East Market, Cranston

If you're looking for something a little different, we’ve got the place for you. Sonia's carries all things Armenian, Lebanese, Turkish and Syrian. Sonia's is actually a market, a deli, a bakery and a cafe all in one and it's a great place

to sit with a friend and enjoy some bubble tea, a little Baklava and some conversation, you know, in between the sipping and chewing. Inside you can expect to find an incredible array of products to add a little variety to your next dinner - even if it’s just some non-supermarket-bought Syrian bread. On a recent visit we picked up Linden honey from the Ukraine, Lebanese rose water and some of Sonia's house spice blend, which features cumin, coriander, cardamom, mint, and clove. We used it on lamb to spectacular results. A refrigerator in the back holds phyllo dough, yogurt and assorted meats, so it's truly one-stop shopping. 816 Park Ave, Cranston, 941-9300.

The Italian Corner, East Providence

Yes, there are good Italian markets off Federal Hill!  The Italian Corner deli and market in East Providence has an impressive selection of homemade pasta and bread on display, but that’s just for starters. There’s dried pasta, too, of course, many varieties of olive oil, and homemade sausage and cured meats. We love to pick up some fresh spinach gnocchi, truffle oil, Parmesano Reggiano and crusty bread and call it a night. If you are looking for a great deli

sandwich on homemade bread, they can do that, or stock up on pre-packaged dinners that are sold by the pound. We recently tried the meat tortellini with ragu bolongnese and loved the filling of beef, pork and grana padano. 10 Boyd Ave, East Providence, 431-1737. 

New Battambang Market, Providence

When we have a hankering for some Thai, we head over to Elmwood Avenue and stop in at New Battambang for some fresh noodles and anything else our Asian alter egos are craving. At lunch Battambang serves freshly-made Thai food that rivals any restaurant in the city and always leaves us full and happy. New Battambang is another member of the Providence Healthy Store Initiative, so it features lots of fresh fruit and produce. Noodles are made in-house and an incredible selection of sauces and sundries allow you to make great Thai food at home. The real hidden treat here is that at any hour they will make you a fresh papaya salad called Som Tam. Sweet, tart and crunchy, it is great on its own or as a topping for grilled meat or fish. 366 Elmwood Ave, Providence, 785-2735.

Davis Dairy Products, Providence

Hmm…we suspect the deceptive choice of name was done intentionally to keep us from finding this hidden gem. Once inside this East Side market, you do find some dairy, yes. But what keeps us coming back is the incredible Jewish market and deli. Kosher meats and traditional Jewish favorites like of knishes, lox, gefilte fish and challah are all fresh and expertly prepared. When it comes to knishes we trend towards the traditional - a simple potato knish with kosher Dijon, say. But you’ll also find sweet potato or any of the other newer versions out there. Don’t miss the matzoh ball soup—the matzohs are light and the broth is tasty. A true classic! 721 Hope St, Providence, 331-4239.


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