It is both a joy and a challenge to create a narrow list of the best restaurants in Providence; the city is known for its art, and that art extends to the inspired creation of so many culinary experiences as well. We are rich with choices here, truly. This list is, of course, subjective, and my specific menu recommendations have a tendency to be for seafood items, which may not be as much your preference as it is mine – but please know that all of these restaurants have robust and delicious non-seafood dishes that are raved about by many. Go forth and enjoy!
Joe Marzilli’s Old Canteen was founded in 1956 by Joseph Marzilli and today takes pride in being the oldest family-owned Italian restaurant in Rhode Island. Located at the head of Atwells Ave and in the heart of Federal Hill, the Marzilli family believes that Italian food nourishes the body and soul and are always sure to prepare their fresh ingredients with love. Offering a vast menu of old-school “Providence Italian” dishes in generous portions at fair prices, the Old Canteen is comfortably and charmingly dated – it feels like you’re traveling back to a different era in all the best ways. Their Lobster Fra Diavolo is available in or out of the shell at your request, and they offer a special seven-course dinner option for your own complete tour of the menu.
Los Andes is located on a quiet corner on Chalkstone Blvd; its unassuming exterior belies the high-energy eatery inside, named for the mountain range that runs through South America. The menu consists of the best cuisine from that region, with a fusion of other exquisite Latin flavors. Come enjoy different meccas of cuisine with dishes including ceviche (served in a martini glass!), churrasco anticuchero, pescado a lo macho, and paella.
A staple in Providence since 1989, CAV (an acronym for Cocktails, Antiques, Victuals) serves eclectic, contemporary, award-winning cuisine in a unique and historic loft in downtown. Part art gallery, part restaurant, and an altogether beautiful experience. Dine-in comfort while admiring the art that’s all around you. We recommend starting with a cup of the lobster bisque with Tahitian vanilla and then moving on to an entree of caramelized scallops and seared shrimp over lemon zest risotto.
Troop began as a flavorful catering company and quickly morphed into a full-fledged party destination unto itself, known for its globally inspired street food and its late 80s/early 90s hip hop aesthetic. Fun, fresh, and familiar all at once, Troop PVD cannot be missed on a culinary tour of the city. I always order the Street Noodles and am never disappointed, and I follow it with a Chad Chunk Ice Cream Sandwich. Definitely check out their cocktail list, too, or enjoy some locally brewed beer from Revival.
The elusive and exclusive Enoteca Umberto on Atwells Ave is an authentic Italian eatery specializing in Southern Italian food and drinks. This unique, 18-seat Federal Hill restaurant makes dining out feel more like dining in at the home of a good friend. Homestyle, rustic, and delicious meals are prepared in their tiny kitchen by Chef Lia Bellini who is, by all accounts, a kitchen magician. The limited menu is a perfect blend of family recipes and newly inspired items made from authentic imports, all complemented by an outstanding selection of wines. There are no wrong choices here; let your senses guide you.
Haven Brother’s, a walk-up late-night staple for burgers and unique milkshakes
North, currently take-out only, for Asian inspired “noodles and not-noodles,” as they break it down
Bucktown, currently take-out only, for fried chicken and Southern-style sides
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