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.

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Trio of Federal Hill Gems

Hospital Stays, Bad Toast, and Happy Returns

Hi everyone! Diane (Mom) here. I just want to thank you all for hanging in there during my recent hospital stay. It’s hard to believe that I'd reached the great age of 60 without ever having had a hospital stay or an operation, but now that's changed. To those of you who told me it would be like a mini-vacation, phbbbbt! Plus, how the Hell can you mess up toast? I hadn't been able to eat for three days, and on the fourth I was thrilled to be cleared for toast. This was toast? Stale and moldy tasting bread? Hell, I was looking for the blue spots. I really wished I had felt up to doing a review of the hospital food. Let's see: moldy toast, Jell-O with skin, sour-tasting milk, and dry scrambled eggs. It's no wonder I jumped at the chance to go to one of my favorite food spots, Federal Hill in Providence, on the way home from one of my checks ups. Now this was food – with taste - and I was happy to be able to indulge again.

April 22, 2011


Caserta Pizzeria
121 Spruce St.
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 272-3618

While driving back from Providence from one of my many doctor visits, we passed very close by Federal Hill. In case you don't know, this is the Italian section where restaurants, grocery stores, delis, and bakeries abound, carrying every sort of Italian food imaginable. There are also several pizzerias and pizza was just what we were craving. I reminded Laura of this one pizzeria we always passed that was forever busy, Caserta Pizzeria. We had never been but decided to stop in this day.

Because I was still not comfortable walking around, we decided to get a small cheese pizza and eat in the car. Laura went in to fetch it and I watched the goings-on on busy Federal Hill streets. An especially memorable moment was the guy driving 80 miles an hour in a large truck on tight cobblestone streets. Jerk!

It wasn't long before Laura returned with our pizza and two sodas.

We dug right in. Wow, this was some good pizza. The crust was buttery and lightly crisp, the sauce (if you can call it that) was sweet and seemed to consist of splashes of crushed tomatoes instead of a solid layer, and the cheese was fresh, thick, and melty. It was as simple as it was delicious. I really enjoyed this pizza.

Laura brought out a menu and we were surprised to see how basic and simple they kept their toppings. A plain pizza has just sauce on it. Cheese is a topping as is pepperoni, mushrooms, olives, anchovies … and that’s it! You can get them in any combo of one to five items in only two sizes - small and large. There's no sausage, chourico, peppers, onions, or meatballs. This is a small menu. There are no subs, salads, or wraps, but they do have four specialty sandwiches: the Wimpy Skippy (spinach pie with cheese and pepperoni), Pig in the Blanket (Italian sausage with tomato sauce rolled in dough), spinach pies, and Pepper Pigs (Italian sausage and peppers with tomato sauce rolled in dough). That's the entire menu. You don't need a huge menu when the ingredients are this fresh and yummy. This is officially our new favorite pizza.

Caserta Pizzeria is open from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 9:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. They are closed on Monday.


Venda Ravioli
265 Atwells Avenue
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 421-9105

After we finished our lunch we decided to pick up some area pastries. After all, we weren't here that often. Finding a parking spot near our desired bakery was tough but we found a spot not “too far” down the street. I still wasn't walking too quickly (not that I ever did) but decided to take my time and walk with Laura to the bakery. On the way we passed a little square and Laura pointed out Venda Ravioli at the end of that square. I had always wanted to visit this Italian grocery and this just might be the day. We walked slowly and in a few minutes arrived at the door.

Holy Moly, this place was mobbed. We squished our way in but couldn't get much pass the door. Did a bus stop outside? We pushed and shoved our way to some shelves filled with Italian goodies. We were looking for some cookies from the Ozioli Company (ozioliscookies.com) and we quickly found them. We saw four different kinds in small plastic containers and snatched one of each. They were pizzette, anisette, lemon, and almond. They looked delicious and from what I'd heard, they were. We couldn't wait to take them home to taste. On our way out the store (and while waiting forever in a long line), we noticed their fresh food cases. Sliced meats and cheeses and prepared foods beckoned us and we vowed to come back when it wasn't so crowded and we could actually reach the cases. The cookies were $3.99 each, and our total came to $15.96.

We got home with our cookies and displayed them for hubby. We also tried each kind, of course. They were fantastic! Each one was better than the last. I really don't know which one was my favorite. They were fresh, very flavorful, and some tasted more like a little cake than a cookie. These are good enough to put out for company or just enjoy with a good cup of coffee. I'd definitely get these when I next run across them. You should, too.


Venda Ravioli is open from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.


Pastiche Fine Desserts and Cafe
92 Spruce St.
Providence, RI 02903
(401) 861-5190

We left Venda Ravioli and walked slowly up to Pastiche, a legendary bakery on Federal Hill. Everyone who's anyone gets their fine pastries from this tiny specialty shop. I've heard of them for years but never had the chance to go in – until now.

It's tiny, cramped, and crowded. To get take-out you have to hug the front counters as the rest of this charming shop is taken up with a few tables and chairs for the dine-ins. You won't mind being squished against the glass cases, though. You'll be able to get up close and personal with the luscious goodies displayed before you.

Although renown for their fresh fruit tart (buttery shell filled with vanilla custard topped with fresh seasonal fruits), they also have beautiful cakes, tarts, cookies, brownies, and breakfast pastries. Check out their full menu by clicking the link above. We really had a hard time deciding what to try. Everything looked amazing and to be honest, a little expensive. But I've heard it's worth the price. Let's see …

We chose two slices of Heaven – the Lemon Mousse Cake and the Italian Mascarpone Torte. To say they were delicious is an understatement. Were they worth the price? Yes. This isn't your ordinary pastry. This is fancy company, suck up to the boss, or impress your sweetie type pastry. You've got to stop by and try some at least once. Oh, and that fruit tart? It's a thing of beauty.

Pastiche is open from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday.

Visit MenuJoy.com for great area restaurant menus.