Certainly enjoyed our server and our host. Both were cordial and conversational. The carpet is wild African leopard print and tables have a generous amount of space in between. We started the night with a trio of crudo:
Smoked Scallop Caprese - Seared sea scallop, tomato, micro Italian basil, smoked sea salt and lemon olive oil. I liked the scallop flavor and simple garnish. I could taste the fish and the accents presented.
Ndulgence - Sliced Kobe beef, Sicilian sea salt, organic virgin oil and micro arugula. The beef stands out and certainly needed the salt. It requires a bit more chewing than a piece of fish and perhaps even a stronger flavor to carry through the chewing process.
Sicilian Blood - Sicilian blood orange and zest, saffron infused caviar, pomegranate balsamic drizzle. More refreshing than anything else, probably from the acid.
Moving on to a huge highlight and huge portion of pasta carbonara. The single order portion was so large, it could easily feed a small Italian village. Classic preparation, perhaps not as creamy as Tarry Lodge (which is my current standard bearer of quality) or as obvious with the raw egg, but a wonderful consistency and flavor. The peas popped. Generous beyond belief, but cooked in an Italian way, not an American way. And I could have stopped their...but I didn't.
My main, the veal porterhouse with broccoli rabe and mashed potato timbale was over the top large and just as delicious. I can’t recall the last time I ordered a porterhouse. Normally, I get the rib-eye at steak houses, but the porterhouse after all that pasta, what was I thinking?! And since we’re in an Italian restaurant rather than a steakhouse, the meal comes with mashed potato and greens. I feel guilty not eating everything that’s in front of me. Clean Plate Club memories from childhood whisper in the back of my head at this Italian institution. I confess, I only finished the porterhouse off.
I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the wine, the Pio Cesare 2003 Barbaresco was one of the better wines I’ve had in recent memory. I love seeing older wines that have had time to develop. A rarity in popular restaurants in California. Maybe I’m just spoiled.
A grand experience in Providence at one of the hallowed institutions of Italian American cuisine on the East Coast. A memory I won't forget.