My parents, who have never been to Rhode Island before, made it to Providence on Friday night. My mom's favorite food is Italian, so I figured a trip to Federal Hill would be perfect. I myself had never been to the area, so I made a reservation at Pane E Vino based on recommendations by my fellow Chowhound readers. The restaurant is very cozy, warm, and dimly lit so I felt good about my choice from the start.
We had a great bottle of wine with our meal, which my dad gave me some notes on, but that I will save for a later post.
For appetizers, Andy and I both had the Insalata di Casa with ricotta salata and white balsamic vinaigrette. The dressing was delicious and the ricotta was light and fluffy- and, thankfully, plentiful!
My parents split the Calamari in Padella which was sauteed with artichoke hearts and banana peppers. It was very tender, and with a piece of banana pepper and a splash of lemon, perfect. I was really pleased to see calamari prepared this way on the menu instead of fried. While fried calamari can be delicious, you get the real taste of the squid when there is no breading.
For my main meal, I had the Gnocchi alla Sorrentina. Gnocchi is my favorite pasta and I can never resist it when it is on the menu. Pane E Vino's gnocchi dish came swimming in a great pomodoro that was very smooth and rich with tomato flavor, almost like a tomato soup! On top were huge slices of melted, fresh buffalo mozzarella. I ate every last bite, and probably could have eaten more! I really enjoyed how perfectly done the gnocchi were as well. They were very soft and piping hot in the middle- nothing is worse than an overcooked, chewy potato dumpling!
Andy had the Bistecca alla Pizzaiola- applewood grilled hangar steak in a pomodoro sauce. It was a generous portion- and while Andy really liked it, there was still a fair amount left! I thought it tasted very good, tender meat with a lot of grill flavor and the same pomodoro sauce that came with my gnocchi.
My dad had the Carne di Maiale alla Griglia- a double rib pork chop that was also applewood grilled, topped with pickled peppers. I myself didn't try the dish (I was to involved with my gnocchi!), but my dad couldn't stop raving about it and forced Andy and I to take the small amount left over home, because he couldn't bear to waste its deliciousness.
My mom, who if she's not ordering pasta at an Italian restaurant, is ordering the veal, got the Saltimbocca alla Sorrentina. The veal scaloppine was prepared the same way as my gnocchi, and also got raves by my mom and my dad. Andy and I aren't huge fans of veal, so while I can't provide too much commentary on the dish, I can attest that my mom finished all of it happily!
I insisted on ordering dessert, even though there seemed to be a groan of "I'm too full!" protest from the group. I needed to be able to write a well-rounded review, right? So I got, for the four of us to share, the Chocolate Ganache Cake. It was very, very rich. We all only had a couple bites, which was all you needed to enjoy the flavor. The cake melted right on your tongue and was smooth and sweet going down your throat.
I was so pleased with this restaurant. The food was simple and authentic and I enjoyed the atmosphere. I was even more excited to learn that they have a great pre-fixe menu Monday-Friday, 5-7 pm for $19.95! Even better, if you go on a Monday and order a bottle of wine, Pane E Vino will give you a gift certificate for half the price of that bottle. Now those are some offers you really can't refuse!