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Rhode Island Dining 2009

Rhode Island Dining 2009
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by in May 2009

DINING

Best Inn Breakfast:
STONE’S THROW INN, Narragansett
The lavish multicourse breakfast put on by hostess Pam Flavin includes fresh fruit and yogurt, followed by cooked-to-order omelets, baked-apple French toast, or Belgian waffles, with a choice of toppings, plus bacon, sausage, or ham–all served inside a 1902 Victorian cottage within walking distance of the expansive wraparound beach. Suites: from $175, including full breakfast. 56 Central St. 888-470-7226; 401-783-6719; stonesthrowinn.com

Best Reason to Greet the New Day:
THE COOKED GOOSE, Westerly
The Goose offers a version of truffled eggs that sends scents and murmurs around any brunch table. The pancake add-ins include bananas and dried cherries; the omelets include seven cheese choices. The Benedicts are made with country ham, smoked salmon, or spinach. And the coffee comes in carafes. Perfect! Breakfast entrées: from $7.50. 92 Watch Hill Road. 401-348-9888; thecookedgoose.com

Best Sandwich with a View:
BELLE’S CAFÉ, Newport
Walking between the towering dry-docked yachts to get to this bright sailors’ hangout, you could pretend you’re checking on repairs to your seagoing craft. Really, you’re there for a great breakfast or lunch, with a view across Newport Harbor. If you are headed out to sea, call ahead for a box lunch! Breakfasts: from $5. Lunches: from $7.50. 1 Washington St. 401-846-6000; newportshipyard.com/bellescafe.asp

Best Fried Calamari:
ANTHONY’S SEAFOOD, Middletown
If you think Rhode Island’s unofficial “state appetizer” comes complete with a strict mix of hot peppers, garlic, and ripe olives, think again. Here the cook throws on peanuts and scallions with those hot peppers, tosses it all in a plum chili sauce, and calls it “kung pao calamari” ($8.95). The result: a grand dish, with crispy, greaseless squid rings. 963 Aquidneck Ave. 401-848-5058; anthonysseafood.net

Best Anniversary Celebration:
PERSIMMON, Bristol
Whether they’re on their first, fifth, twentieth, or fiftieth anniversaries, savvy Rhode Islanders know where to go for a romantic night out. Persimmon serves up an intimate and relaxing setting, a pampering but unobtrusive staff, delectably creative food, and an excellent wine list. What more could you want? Intriguing and always surprising amuse-bouches. Tropical fruit sorbets as palate cleansers. And Chef Champe Speidel’s incredibly delicate hand with layers of flavor and whispers of herbs. Entrées: from $20. 31 State St. 401-254-7474; persimmonbristol.com

Best Italian Festival Not in Providence:
LA FESTA DELLA MADONNA DELLA CIVITA, Cranston
Near the small town of Itri, between Rome and Naples, witnesses beheld a vision of the Virgin Mary in 796, and this event has been celebrated and commemorated for 103 years by the descendants of Itrian immigrants in Cranston’s Knightsville neighorhood (Cranston and Park Streets area). Called La Festa della Madonna della Civita, this late-July festival includes an outdoor Mass, candelight procession, fireworks, and–get ready for it–Italian food booths. Nearby, Italian American eateries also line up for attention; L’Osteria, Caffe Itri, and Mike’s Kitchen are among the best. L’Osteria, 1703 Cranston St. 401-943-3140; losteriari.com. Entrées: from $13.95. Caffe Itri, 1686 Cranston St. 401-942-1970; caffeitri.com. Entrées: from $12.95. Mike’s Kitchen, 170 Randall St.; 401-946-5320. Entrées: from $10.

Best Fresh Seafood:
JIM’S DOCK, East Matunuck
For three generations it’s been much the same at this family-run business. From Jim’s front deck, you can watch the Block Island ferry glide by or count the fishing boats going into the port of Galilee. The freshness of the menu is undisputed. Prime evidence: A fishing boat stops almost daily here, offering the best of its catch–cod, flounder, swordfish, or scallops. Entrées: from $8.95. 109 Succotash Road. 401-783-2050; jims-dock.com

Best Excuse to Go (Italian) Vegetarian:
MAMMA LUISA, Newport
Of course, cheese often replaces meat in many pasta dishes, but the offerings at Mamma Luisa include a meatlike Bolognese sauce (owner Marco Trazzi hails from Bologna) “beefed” up with fava beans and seitan (a wheat gluten product). The spinach gnocchi and butternut squash ravioli are also unforgettable. Entrées: from $12.50. 673 Thames St. 401-848-5257; mammaluisa.com

Best Hot Dog:
HEWTIN HOT DOG CART, Providence
The Hewtin Hot Dog Cart offers devotees spicy or smoked wieners (from $2.50), with gourmet toppings prepared by Matthew and Kristin Gennuso, owners of the French restaurant Chez Pascal, just across the street. Don’t miss the sweet pepper and cucumber relishes, sauerkraut, chili, or pork ‘n’ beans. Each one of them is homemade. Lippitt Park, Hope St.

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