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Rhode Island’s Best New Fall Dishes

Thursday, October 04, 2012

 

Thank goodness that fall food tastes so good. The flavors of fall come powering through September with a local bounty that can't be matched in many places in America. Local chefs, in turn, work their magic with these ingredients to make dishes sing. We set out to find 5 quintessential fall ingredients and where to get them and came back with these tasty options...

 

Pumpkin: Bacaro, Providence

We remember the first time we walked into the space that used to be Neath's. It  felt like we had been transported to an authentic Salumeria. The ensuing years have only strengthened the idea that Brian Kingsford is one of the best chefs our state has produced. Kingsford famously cut his teeth at Al Forno and he brought all the knowledge that he gleaned there with him. One place that really shows is in the grilled pizzas. Yes they were made famous at Al Forno, but we submit that chef Kingsford has taken the ball and run with it to new heights. In fall, the chef turns his attention to pumpkin and it's many uses. We love the flavor on the pizza with spicy oil. The earthiness and sweetness of the pumpkin is accented by the spiciness of the oil and the slight smoke and char from the grilled crust. It all comes together in a delicious bite. Also look out for pumpkin on the made-to-order dessert menu. 262 South Water St. 751-3700, www.bacarorestaurant.net

 

Oysters: North, Providence

When you take two of the most talented young cooks working in the city, add a splash of the new restaurant mecca that is the West Side and finish it off with thoughtfully prepared food, you get a great new restaurant...and a happy city. When word began getting out this summer that James Mark (late of Nick's on Broadway) and Dale Shulga (late of Thee Red Fez) were putting together a new spot on the West Side,  our ears--and taste buds--perked up.  All that training around Providence's best and their own culinary travels have made them a formidable culinary team. One of their loves is oysters and the fall is prime time for local oysters. We ventured in for the toaster oven oysters and the half-shell version with their house accompaniments. The toaster oven version was incredible. Warm and bubbly and tasting of Japanese chili pepper, these will make you forget the clumpy, crappy oysters Rockefellers that you remember. The fresh versions were bright and briny and delicious. You can get them au natural or with the daily accompaniments prepared by the kitchen. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter to see the daily menu changes. North definitely needs to be on your stomach's radar. 3 Luongo Sq.. http://www.facebook.com/pages/North, www.twitter.com/foodbynorth  

 

Apples: Al Forno, Providence

We wanted to include a dessert on the list and began looking around for a perfect representation of an apple dessert. Our travels took us all over the state but in the end we ended up back where made-to-order desserts really took hold in Rhode Island, at Al Forno. When George Germon and Johanne Kileen started their passion project, one of the focal points was desserts. They wanted made to order individual desserts and began with rustic tarts. They changed and experimented but the idea stuck. Seasonally-inspired fruit tarts became a calling card for the restaurant. In fall, obviously, our world becomes all about apples. We get juice and cider and an incredible bounty of local apples but we usually head straight for the native apple crisp tart for two at Al Forno. This is classic fall flavoring with a richness from the butter in tart crust. You taste cinnamon and clove and all of those apple pie flavors you expect but the apples remain the star ingredient. Warm and soft but still retaining a slight snap, they are full of flavor and the flavor of a freshly made tart can't be beat. 577 South Main St. 273-9760, www.alforno.com

 

Beets: The White Horse Tavern, Newport

One of our favorite fall/winter ingredients are beets. The applications are virtually endless. Roast 'em, boil 'em, pickle 'em...the humble beet has become haute cuisine in recent years. Local chefs have latched on to this ingredient as a sweet/piquant addition to a variety of dishes and on their own. One local chef who gets the most out of beets is chef Rich Silvia of the White Horse Tavern in Newport. The White Horse is the 10th oldest restaurant in the world, having been founded in 1673, and it's a little piece of American history in Newport. Chef Silvia has raised the level of the food at the tavern to amongst the best in the state and nowhere is that on better display than it is with beets. Chef Silvia has a killer salad of roasted golden beets with Great Hill Farm blue cheese, local greens, a lemon dressing and the coolest beet syrup. It was sweet and spicy and gave the salad the right amount of zing. We also have it on good authority that upcoming fall/winter menu will feature the beet syrup on a beet risotto with candied pecan dust and an apple endive salad...sounds like fall to us! 28 Marlborough St. 849-3600, www.whitehorsetavern.us

 

Pork: Tazza Cafe, Providence

If you are under the impression that Tazza is a cool place for a coffee and that's it, we've got news for you: Tazza has some top-notch eats. The coffee drinks are great and they are a draw. But the food of chef Ben Lloyd and his team is the real star, as far as we are concerned. Chef Lloyd uses local foods to populate his well put together menu. There are several stand-outs here: the tasting of dips and spreads was terrific; we loved the duck spring rolls and the smoked chicken tacos were well done, but we are here for pork. On the small plates menu check out the pulled pork tamale and pork belly torta. The two different cuts of Blackbird Farms heritage pork shows off the chefs touch with different cuts of the animal and some tasty sauces. On the entree menu, chef Lloyd feature a different preparation that rotates as the pork comes in fresh. Your best bet will be to call ahead to the restaurant to find out what the preparation is that night. What we can guarantee is that chef Lloyd will treat it respectfully and pair it with interesting local flavors. 250 Westminster St. 421-3300, www.tazzacaffe.com



 

 

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