The statements made on this website are the personal opinions of Laura and Diane. If we feel that a restaurant visit is not up to par, please remember it is our opinion. If you disagree with us, feel free to write us at info@newenglandbites.com.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Rustic Tri Vue Drive-In

1195 Eddie Dowling Highway
Route 146 South
North Smithfield, RI  02896
(401) 769-7601

August 30, 2014

New England Bites likes to visit the Rustic Tri Vue Drive-In at least once a year.  Although there hasn’t been any summer releases we’ve wanted to see, we did notice that they planned on showing “retro” movies during Labor Day weekend.  Figuring that this may be our only chance to go, we decided to watch two of our favorite movies – Jurassic Park and Jaws – outside on the big screen.

The three-screen theater opens at 6 p.m., but a long line had already formed on Route 146.  It didn’t take long for the cars to start moving in.  For only $25 you get the pleasure of bringing a car load of your friends and family to see TWO movies.  That’s a steal, considering an adult-price ticket in the evening costs about $12 now … and that’s just for one movie!

We were lucky enough to be seeing our movies on Screen 1 – our favorite screen.  Why is this our favorite screen?  Because SUVs can park right next to the snack bar/bathroom/ice cream stand.  That means we don’t have to walk up and down the very rocky hills while trying to balance both food and drink in our hands.  We picked the perfect parking space and decided to get our dinner on.

Now before you start in with your hate mail, we’re already well aware that this won’t be a healthy dinner.  That’s what snack bars are all about.  If you want something different, pack a lunch!

We stood in line with our little cardboard trays and went up to the food area.  After some waiting we chose two hamburgers wrapped in little foil envelopes, a tray of nacho chips with hot, spicy cheese and a salted pretzel with honey mustard dipping sauce.  We both got Diet Pepsi to drink (gotta watch our weight – lol).  The total came to $26.

Mom and I got back into the car and chowed down.  Everything was awesome.  The nachos and cheese were addictive, the salted pretzel was soft and chewy and the hamburgers rocked.  They taste like the high school burgers you secretly loved but always agreed with your friends when they said they were nasty.  We get them every time we come to the drive-in.  Our night is never complete without something wrapped in silver.

Just before the movie was about to start, Mom and I decided to get two twist cones ($6) from the new ice cream window at Rustic.  They were icy cold and tasty.  I have to say – we’ve never had a bad experience with the food here.  The snack bar is always clean, the staff is always friendly and the food is as good as snack food should be.  We did have one not-so-great order of clam cakes once, but that was a while ago. 

Also, for a very busy bathroom, it’s always clean.  The staff does a great job of tending to the ladies’ room throughout the run of both movies.

The first movie to start was Jurassic Park.  I’d seen JP on the big screen before when it first came out, and it was just as much fun this time around.  After it was over, I decided to get a large bag of buttered popcorn ($7).  No movie is complete without popcorn.

Jaws started and we dug into the fresh popcorn.  The attendant really layered on the butter, but we shook the kernels around and they tasted great.  Mom had seen Jaws on the big screen when it first came out and it has always been one of her favorite movies.

Just before the movie finished and Roy Scheider and Richard Dreyfuss swam toward shore, Mom and I put on our seatbelts.  As soon as the credits started rolling, I backed out of my parking space and drove out.  I didn’t want to get caught in the chaos of everyone trying to figure out how to leave the theater.

So if you’re looking for something fun to do with the kids, or if you’re just looking to relive those old drive-in memories, definitely visit the Rustic Drive-In.  You’ll feel like a kid again.  Bring the babies, the pets, the grandparents – everyone’s welcome!

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Sunday, August 17, 2014

Perella's Ristorante

311 Metacom Ave.
Warren, RI  02885
(401) 245-0150

August 16, 2014

Mom and I have wanted to go to Perella’s Ristorante for years, but something or other had always kept us from trying it out.  We never really heard any feedback on the restaurant, and the online reviews were just “ok.”  Since our movie didn’t start for quite some time, we decided to finally give Perella’s a shot. 

We parked in an empty lot and stepped inside the colorful building.  We walked past the bar area where there was no one seated and into the empty dining room.  Our waiter, Robert, had been arranging one of the tabletops when we walked in, so he greeted us right away and told us that we had our choice of seating.  We chose a large table by the window so that we could feel the warm breeze.

Perella’s is cute inside with little Italian trinkets scattered throughout, but I can see what people mean when they write about the restaurant being “dated.”  I will say that everything was very clean and that Robert was an excellent server throughout our entire meal.

Robert handed us menus (click here to view) and discussed the soups of the day.  He took our drink order – two waters with limes – and brought us a tasty bread basket complete with freshly roasted garlic for spreading.  The smell of the garlic was amazing and Mom and I had never seen anything like that before.  It was a nice touch and gave the soft bread a lot of extra flavor.

For our entrees, Mom chose the lasagna ($14.95) and I went with the stuffed shells ($10.95).  Both came with a soup or salad option.  Mom chose the pasta fagioli soup and I went with the chowder.  They arrived quickly but right away I could tell that my chowder was not chowder at all.  It was more of a white clam soup.  It was absolutely filled with potatoes – most of them raw – and large pieces of celery.  There were no more than three clams in the soup, and the bland broth tasted like chicken.  It was the most watery chowder I’ve ever had, and I told Robert that although it was my choice to get chowder in an Italian restaurant – I was not a fan.  Mom’s soup tasted better than mine but in keeping with the theme, the soup was very watered down.  There was no texture to the broth at all.  The soup had a strong smoky pork flavor and plenty of pasta shells, but hardly any vegetables or beans and certainly no spices.  If it wasn’t for the pork taste, the soup would have been so blah.

We were hoping our entrees would be better than the soups, and when they arrived we had very high hopes.  My shells came in a casserole dish filled with fragrant tomato sauce (made with pork butt) and topped with cheese.  Mom’s homemade lasagna was an enormous brick filled with ground beef and ricotta cheese.  When I started to dig in, I noticed something.  There was a lot of water in my dish.  The pasta was extremely wet and therefore the ricotta cheese that my shells were stuffed with started to disintegrate.  I did enjoy the fact that the shells were actually stuffed, but unfortunately the taste of the watery pasta was a bit of a turnoff.  The sauce was nothing to write home about and the cheese on top tasted like store-bought shreds.  It certainly tasted homemade, but not in a good way.

Mom’s lasagna – although huge in size – was flavorless.  She couldn’t find an Italian spice in the dish if she had a magnifying glass.  The noodles themselves were watery, just like someone threw a box of Barilla lasagna noodles into a pan and took them out – water attached.  The meat sauce seemed to be just ground hamburg.  There were no tomato chunks, no peppers, no onions and certainly no spices.  The ricotta could have been a container of Sorrento, and the mozzarella on top could have come from a bag.  The sauce was so smooth it was like someone opened a jar of Ragu and poured it on top without jazzing it up.  Mom said she’s never had Italian food that has been so bland, and she LOVES Italian food and gets it often when we dine out.

I finished my dish, but Mom took half of hers home because of its size.  Our total for the meal was $27.95.  Robert offered us a dessert menu, but we declined.  We ended up chatting for a while about different foods and movies.  To be honest, Robert was the best thing about our experience.

Although we didn’t have a terrible time, we probably won’t be back unless we hear that things have improved.  It’s a shame because we feel that Perella’s has a lot of potential, but we can’t understand why the food was so flavorless.  Also, if everything is cooked in house, why did everything taste store-bought?  For the money they charge for the meals, they could have put a little more love into the food.

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