Maybe I haven't mentioned it before, but my mom's Italian. 100% in fact. She also grew up in Providence, on The Hill. These days, one of the things I love to do to surprise her is pop over to Venda on Atwells/DePasquale Square and pick up some in-house made macaroni (For the record, when I was growing up, blue collar in the 02909, we never called it pasta.) and gravy (Not. Sauce.). Whenever I walk in and announce to her that I've picked up something from Venda, her face lights up. Her reaction? It's part of the magic of RI's own little version of Little Italy. And you don't have to be Italian to appreciate any of it either. Atwells, of course, is becoming more and more eclectic with eateries like Nami (One of fav people swears by their sushi.) and Nara (for hummus and hooka). DePasquale Square, however, remains steadfastly old world, old time-y Italian. That's exactly why we motored over to the Square yesterday for some blog research, aka, lunch at Caffe Dolce Vita (Google Anita Ekberg and Fellini.) and an impromptu tour of The Hill's only boutique hotel, Dolce Villa. #italianstyle
Dolce Vita, the bright pink building a few doors down from Venda, is hopping in the warm weather when people flock there to sit outside, see and be seen, eat and drink, listen to live music, and have laughs. I've been there in the Spring, Summer, and early Fall and if you haven't, it's definitely something to add to your list for 2016. Yesterday, truth be told, our biggest disappointment was arriving a 1/2 hour too late to get breakfast (Yes, they serve it 7 days.), but we ended up loving what we ordered. Nic had the Caesar salad, which contained 'the best croutons' she'd ever tasted (We found out later that they are house made.), and I had the Italian tuna, which I prefer to the Americanized version made with mayo, along with a side of thin, crispy fries. Our cappuccinos were also outstanding. (No bitterness whatsoever.) Add in the modern Italian music playing, the prompt service, and the complimentary limoncello (also house made) and we vowed to return ASAP to try out their breakfast menu.
Next stop? Next door to the Hotel Dolce Villa (same owner as the Caffe, the new Biergarten that just opened around the corner on Spruce St. and the old Mediterraneano I hear) which I'd passed by tons of times and wondered about vaguely. It really didn't register fully on my radar though until a friend who literally travels the world stayed there recently and raved about it. Lightbulb moment. Luckily for us the GM, Xiony Bernard, was extremely friendly when we dropped by yesterday afternoon and immediately gave us a tour of the revamped, modern interior. We loved the two bedroom suite with a balcony that overlooks the Square and a kitchenette (I rarely cook, but it can be comforting on some level to know that there's a frig and stove available in case I get the urge to whip up some eggs and toast.). Xiony also revealed that the striking murals of women's faces throughout were done by RI native, Ariel Cruz, who now resides in Miami, but returned to the OS for the project, and that the red, black, and white mural behind the front desk is an homage to none other than Sophia Loren herself. #thatsitalianstyle We found the space bright, cheery, clean, and full of good energy.
Rounding out the rest of The Square, there's: Geppetto's (pizza and more...another fav of some of my favorite RI'ers), Antonelli's Poultry (Apparently, you can pick out a LIVE chicken...Putting aside for a sec the fact that I personally am a vegetarian, I will admit that that does add to the old time-y Euro vibe of it all. Don't tell PETA.), and Costantino's (We had some delicious pizza there last year, after a fancy-but-far-from-filling meal at a trendy PVD restaurant that I won't name #sworntosecrecy).
Ciao for Now,
Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of me and the PattyJDotCom Instagram, except for the pic of the 'Sophia Loren' mural behind the front desk which was found on YELP