Rhode Island Restaurants’ Best New Dishes For Spring

Thursday, April 25, 2013


Springtime is upon us and boy are we grateful. After the long, stormy winter, we are excited for the re-birth of spring. Everything starts to bloom and come to life -- as does the local food scene, with asparagus, ramps, morels and fiddleheads trumpeting the coming summer. We set out to find 5 examples of "spring on a plate" and came back with these for you to try...

One Bellevue at the Hotel Viking, Newport

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One of our local gems is One Bellevue at the Hotel Viking. For a long time diners shied away from hotel restaurants, wary of banquet food. Let us tell you that hotel restaurants and chefs have come a long way. Case in point, Chef Kevin Thiele of the Viking. You want locally sourced food? He is on the forefront with Trace and Trust and their new land based New England Grass Fed, to help bring you the freshest fish and land animals that you'll find anywhere. We were torn here by two spring dishes we loved, so we include them both.... First, the spring pea risotto with Thumbellina carrots and garic scapes was a delicious taste of spring -- light and fresh. And then we really fell for the fluke tacos. We see these in our future all spring and summer long. The spring vegetable slaw and Thiele's guacamole accented the light and flavorful fish perfectly. 1 Bellevue Ave. 847-3300, www.hotelviking.com

New Rivers, Providence

When you think of seasonal American food in Providence invariably you come around to New Rivers. For longer than most have been plying their trade, New Rivers has been at the forefront of the city's dining scene. First under Bruce Tillinghast and now under Beau Vestal, New Rivers has been celebrating local and seasonal food with a bend toward tradition. And that's a good thing! In spring, we love tender peas. They just scream spring. They're colorful. They're full of flavor. They're stuffed in Agnolotti? Yup, imagine a thin sheet of pasta stuffed with spring peas, ricotta cheese and mint, floating in a lemon broth with the salty Parmigiano Reggiano adding a bit of depth. If you so choose--and you should--try adding some pork belly on top. The earthy flavors all meld together and make a perfect meal. Another winner to check out if you haven't is the fluke. It's in two different preparations here and it may no longer be Rhode Island's little secret. 7 Steeple St. 751-0350, www.newriversrestaurant.com

Persimmon, Bristol

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Every spring we make pilgrimages to the water. The Bay. The Atlantic. It really doesn't matter. We need to re-connect with the water. What better place to do that than beautiful Bristol. We love sitting along the water and absorbing those first rays of sun. Usually, food becomes part of the celebration. And what better place to celebrate food in Bristol than Persimmon. Chef Champe Speidel always brings the fresh and his spring menu reflects that. We have long been fans of his "evolving" cuisine. A dish may feature different ingredients as the season progresses. One such dish is the early spring ragout of vegetables with hand rolled gnocchi, roasted vegetable sauce and sweet cream butter. This dish will evolve with local farms to feature the most current veggies at Speidel's disposal. Currently it features spring onions, artichokes, spring-dug parsnips, sunchokes and on and on and on. This dish sounds so good it make us go veggie...right until we remember the foie gras and the pork head. smile 31 State St. 254-7474, www.persimmonbristol.com

Cook and Brown Public House, Providence

It doesn't get more "in-season" than a daily menu. That is the kind of thing we've come to expect from Nemo and team at Cook and Brown. East Siders have long cherished this spot in several different incarnations but Chef Bolin has really made it "home." He has combined his flavorful food with a top-notch cocktail program to lure diners far and wide. Bolin has become a sort of local trumpeter for the idea of ricotta gnocchi. These little pillows have a different texture than the potato version but it's a version that our grandparents used to make. They have the shape but a unique flavor that sets them apart. Chef Bolin pairs his dumplings with lemon zest, goat cheese and local radishes with a very interesting"radish-top pesto." Hey why waste? Especially when it tastes soooo good. 959 Hope St. 273-7275, www.cookandbrown.com

Al Forno, Providence

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We finish at the granddaddy of the Rhode Island seasonal movement...Al Forno. Through more seasons than we care to calculate, we have been able to count on Al Forno to push the envelope. Remember the season when a singular tomato was served whole with sea salt and olive oil...and that's it? We do. People were shocked but it was a statement that our stuff is so fresh, we can serve it alone. This spring we have become infatuated with a salad at Al Forno. It's made with watercress tossed with the spring favorite fava beans and extra virgin olive oil. Add in the earthy and salty flavors from pamigiano reggiano and the sweet bite of Meyer lemon and you have a delicious starter. All the flavors come together with a twist from the pepper grinder. Don't be ashamed to sop up all the oil at the end...it might be the best part! 577 South Main St. 273-9760, www.alforno.com


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