29 May, 2009

Brigido's Market (North Smithfield)

For another Market review, I head to scenic North Smithfield to visit Brigido's Supermarket located in the North Smithfield Plaza. The parkinglot was filled with smart-looking pinegreen shopping carts, looking different from the generic chrome or the sometimes ugly plastic carts. Inside I was welcomed to a wonderful collection of fruits and vegetables. Despite being a smaller than average marketplace, they had a wonderful collection of citrus and berries, and a plentiful selection of herbs.

This market also had several stations of free samples, a great plus in anyone's book. The first was in the fruits and vegetable section, featuring a platter of chips and salsa. A tad generic, but it was free and good so I won't complain. The next set up was near the prepared dinners and fish section was a nice salmon pate with wheat thins. A little better, though the crackers did not match the spread. Finally, the small deli counter (which featured delicious Boar's Head meats) had a nice platter of cubed turkey breast.

Brigido's was otherwise normal, featuring specials and generic IGA products common in local markets. The shopping lanes were quaint though the conveyors were short. They did feature a nice selection of organic and green products, though their coffee section was rather deficient.

Brigido's Market is located in North Smithfield, Rhode Island off Victory Highway (route 102). They have a website and other locations. Not neccessarily worth driving to if you're far away, but you'll be pleased with it if you're there.


Rating: B

Caserta Pizzeria

If you want Pizza, go to Federal Hill and seek out Acorn Street, and go to Caserta Pizzeria. The sauce is amazing, their dough is perfectly cooked, and the toppings are a wonderful compliment and don't overpower the other ingredients. Too many places either put too much cheese or sauce, or it's just a delivery vehicle for 10 pounds of meat. Caserta Pizza focuses on the zen of Pizza, balancing everything so it tastes like a pizza should.

The restaurant is also known for their Wimpy Skimpy, a spinach pie stuffed with canned spinach, pepperoni, olives, and cheese. Why canned spinach over fresh baby spinach? It just tastes better and honestly sometimes you need a little canned spinach in a world filled with baby greens. The dough on the Wimpy Skimpy seems different than the other pizza dough, it comes out with a more french consistency, being airy and buttery.

The exterior and interior may turn some connoisseurs off, but no authentic brick-oven pizza joint can ever replicate the texture and taste that Caserta Pizzeria delivers. It's located off Atwells Avenue on Federal Hill in Providence, Rhode Island. They only take cash but have an ATM on site.


Rating: A+

Caserta's Pizzeria on Urbanspoon

28 May, 2009

Twin Oaks Restaurant

Hidden away in Cranston, Rhode Island is a true culinary gem. When you approach the parking lot you can appreciate the food you're about to eat by the sheer volume of cars. Inside you're confronted with an ordinary looking lobby, but don't be fooled. What awaits is perhaps the best food in Rhode Island.

It takes a truly good recipe to make Meat Loaf desirable, and Twin Oaks does it. There is a reason they sell out early on the special days they serve it (Tuesdays and Saturdays, mark a calender). If you want thanksgiving, go with their full turkey dinner, you'll want to undo your pants and watch some football afterwards. Their steaks are perfect and the pasta dishes are to die for.

There's really nothing bad about Twin Oaks, except maybe the wait. They have over 4 dinning rooms yet still they fill up to an hour+ wait. Here's a secret, find a spot at the bar and order there. Same food, easier seating. If you do manage to get a seat, ask for a waterfront view for a breathtaking meal.


Rating: A

Twin Oaks on Urbanspoon

26 May, 2009

Haruki Japanese Restuarant

Haruki is a top-rated Rhode Island Restaurant serving Japanese cuisine. It has several locations and constantly wins awards. I've already reviewed and rated what I consider prime Japanese cuisine in Rhode Island, Enn Sushi and Japanese Restaurant. Please refer to this link for any unknown Japanese terms, which I have italicized. With every Ying, there must be a Yang. That Yang was Haruki.

First, the restaurant itself is subpar. The interior looks like it could be any cuisine. It just felt dirty and worn. Now this could be forgiven had the food and service been exceptional. I have had excellent food in places that are 'dives', but Haruki is an all around dive.

The service was abysmal. Me and my wife waited too long for drinks, and the appetizer which we ordered with the drink came 13 minutes after the drinks (20 minutes in total). I then was never offered a refill, instead having to ask for it despite my glass sitting empty well after our meal had arrived.

The food left much to be desired. We ordered Gyoza, which were floating in soy sauce. This is bad for a panfried dish, especially in a salty liquid that just leeched into the meal. It transformed the dumplings into salty and soggy messes. Then we shared a bowl of Udon, which tasted like mass-produced noodles in a broth which should not have been served. Our main dish followed, and was small and somewhat unappetizing. The sushi and sashimi served with the main course were decent, but the rest of the dish was too small and tasted like something served at Applebees.

We then paid much more than it was worth, and left still hungry. Japanese food is expensive, but there are much better options that offer better food for much less. And service should only be mentioned if it is poor, because that can affect a meal much more than the cooking.

We visited the primary location in Cranston, though there are different locations throughout Rhode Island. They also have a website, except upon posting this Google has warned me that the website could harm my computer. I'm going to post it anyways in case the malware ever is removed. It's nice to see the website perfectly tell you what the restaurant is like.


Rating: D

Haruki on Urbanspoon

Enn Sushi and Japanese Cuisine

Note: I will use some Japanese terms, which will be highlighted in italics and accompanied by translations in parenthesis.

Rhode Island is known for its Seafood, Italian and Portuguese cuisines. Japanese, however, often escapes the grander culinary reputation. Admiral Perry came from Newport, and he opened relations between the United States and Japan. Rhode Island also shares the intensity of seasons celebrated in Japanese culture. Yet, to find a good piece of sashimi (thinly sliced raw fish) or some tender gyoza (dumplings), you had to venture to either Boston or New York City.

Enn has filled the void. Upon seeing the restaurant offering an 'open soon' sign west of Lincoln Mall, it piqued me and my wife's tastes for authentic Japanese food. We had bad experiences with some of the other local establishments, with them either being too theatrical and American, or simply just not good. Enn offered rebirth as it opened in Spring.

Inside, Enn presents Japanese simiplicity and elegance. The restaurant was clean and wonderfully colored, offering a beautiful view of Lincoln's rolling hills and dense forests. A small lounge slightly seperated from the main dining room and sushi bar holds a quiet elegance and a nice television set. I must catch a Patriots game there while enjoying a sampling of sushi.

Our first meal consisted of gyoza, sashimi, and sushi (raw fish served upon or rolled with rice). Our sampling of appetizers revealed a potent kitchen capable of producing high-quality Japanese food for a modest price. The gyoza were perfectly cooked, stuffed with meat and vegetables. The dumplings had a wonderful crust on one side and a wonderfully tender other side. They served a small sampling of spices and a small bowl of dipping sauce that wonderfully complimented the other flavors. Next, I received a modest sampling of nigiri sushi while my wife sampled their skill in producing sashimi. Both dishes featured fish served at the perfect temperature, and each piece was tender and delicious.

Our next meal involved us ordering lunch, which we ordered gyoza, sushi, and sashimi again. They maintained the quality and surpised us with offering the fish with a bento-style Japanese lunch box and a bowl of Udon noodles. Udon are thick wheat noodles served in a savory broth. The bowl and dish were works of art that had a wonderful flavor. We were served a second soup dish because we ordered the lunch, and what came out of the condition surprised us both. Neither me nor my wife ever enjoyed Miso soup, until we tried Enn's. The delicate umami (savory flavor) mixed in a perfectly seasoned broth. The lunch was then brought out, and to our surprise, contained special appetizers. This is common and they change daily, bringing variety to the meals. The salad served was rather normal and served with the traditional ginger dressing, but the understated gem of the lunch was a small offering of Japanese relish, different from the stuff Americans put on their hot dogs.

At the end of the meal, the waitress told us the chef was perfecting ice cream flavors including; green tea, azuki (sweet red bean), and ginger. We've since had the green tea, and despite it being served with a dollop of too-sweet cool whip, the ice cream was perfectly chilled and wonderfully flavored to balance the sweetness of ice cream with the bitterness of green tea. They also serve a unique fried vanilla ice cream 'breaded' with granola and flavored with a sweet plum sauce.

Japanese food may be scary to someone who has never encountered it, but trust me in that this is where you want to try it. I've spent alot more for a lower quality meal, though Enn is moderately priced. Art is never cheap. Enn is located on George Washington Highway in Lincoln, Rhode Island. They have a website with a full menu, though specials are best inquired about either by phone or in person.


Enn Sushi & Japanese Cusine on Urbanspoon

Rating: A

Dave's Marketplace (Cumberland)

Rhode Island offers a plethora of Supermarkets and Discount Warehouse clubs. When I heard of a locally-owned retailer offering top quality food, me and the wife agreed that we needed to explore this potential hidden gem. We headed off to the market to explore.

Unfortunately, Dave could not live up to our the great expectations. A Marketplace implies a great selection, something I did not see. Other markets offer rare fruits and vegetables, and Dave's only offered common selections. What was worse, the price for the common fruits and vegetables exceeded what I originally considered pricey. I did find some interesting Jams made by Massachusetts Trappist monks, but there was not a wide selection of local ingredients and locally produced goods.

Dave's offered free coffee, something I did enjoy. It was perfectly brewed and had a wonderful flavor. Free coffee, though, does not excuse grossly overpriced products.

Now my experience is only limited to the Cumberland location, so please don't hold the entire franchise to my review. I do not know if all locations suffer from what I consider faults, but I doubt that the store in North Kingston or Warwick differ that much. I might venture to Dave's again, but there was nothing there to make me want to go. There were no rare products not available anywhere else nor were the prices worth the extra drive. Aside from these nitpicks, the place was clean and all of the food looked wonderful.


Rating: C

Larry Joe's New England Fire Pit

A first review says much about a person, like a first impression. What is reviewed and when says what the person's behavior and tastes are. My first review covers not a five-star brasserie or a chic sushi bar with an award winning sushi-ya.

Summer in New England can be harsh. Memorial Day has passed, so popular opinion dictates that this is officially summer. I had just bought a air conditioner and was on my way home, and I spotted a hot dog truck. This is not the New York-style cart with a seedy gentlemen roasting a row of mystery meat sausages. The smell hit me first, even in my car; roasted hickory logs and the sweet smell of beef. Then I noticed two men devouring the hot dogs on those plastic patio chairs that everyone seems to have. A tad hungry, I decided to stop to see what it was.

What I encountered has put Oscar Meyer to shame. The chef, a former Navy Engineer, stood behind a large propane grill mounted in the back of his truck. Where did the hickory smell come from? He told me, it was a combination grill that used propane to regulate the heat (Hank Hill would be proud) and allowed for wood to be added for extra flavor. I ordered the Big Dog, an apt label. He pulled a half-pound all-beef meat log out and began to smoke it over the roasting wood. He added the bun to the flames and began to talk about what he was doing. Once cooked, he split the dog down the middle and offered his selection of toppings. He had Pico de Gallo (Salsa for the gringos), all-meat chili, sweet and hot barbecue sauce, and the New England classics of Mustard and Onions. I picked mustard, onions, and salsa. I paid my $6.75, and walked off to enjoy.

Definitely a good decision. The smell was wonderful and the taste did not disappoint. I devoured the sausage much like the others outside the truck did while mine grilled. I never expected to find such a treat in Bellingham, but pleasant surprises are one of life's great joys. The one problem I did have was the mess, but the Hot Dogs are not a nice meal to be eaten with linen napkins and silverware. The best part was the smell in my car after I finished eating to drive home, a much better fragrance than 'New Car' or 'Ocean Breeze'.

Larry Joe's New England Fire Pit is located on Route 126 in Bellingham, across from the Outback Steakhouse/Home Depot Plaza. It's a big white truck in the parking lot of deli/liquor store. The Chef serves only hot dogs and cans of soda, but the toppings make each experience unique.

Look up the 'Fanatic fans of Larry Joe's New England Fire Pit' group on Facebook if you enjoyed the meal.

Larry Joe's New England Fire Pit on Urbanspoon

Rating: A-


Hello and welcome to Rhode Island Epicurean. I am the RI Epicurean and I will be your guide to food in the greater southern New England Area (and parts of South Florida that I visit). I am gourmet and conscientious eater. We should all eat good food (but maybe not overeat).

My reviews are based upon my own taste and my own experiences at a particular establishment. Whether this is a restaurant, snack stand, or even a supermarket, I will rate everything on the academic scale (A is the best, F is just horrible and should never be approached). Feel free to comment and challenge my reviews!

Life is too short to eat bad food.

About Me

Rhode Island, United States
I am a lover of Food. I review restaurants, markets, snacks, wine, beer, and spirits. Life is too short to eat bad food.