Gastro Surprise: Gift your foodie friends their new favorite spot

CookAndDaggerAs the Yuletide season enters our lives and Father Christmas gently rests his frigid nipples on our collective shoulder, we all face that yearly holiday challenge: gift-giving. Sometimes, it’s difficult to find the right gift for the people you care about.

Giving the gift of an experience can show someone you care about them, and more importantly that you truly know them. One of my greatest joys is finding an awesome new restaurant, and realizing that one of my close friends would love it. I get to support a business that cares about what they do, and I get to bring someone the jubilation of discovering a new delicious place to eat.

Providence is bursting at the seams with great food, but there are so many high-quality hidden gems around Rhode Island that I wanted to focus on some of the best places OUTSIDE of the capital. Places where you can grab a gift certificate and shock your loved ones with the amazing culinary secrets that are right under their noses. With this list, you’ll be drowning in comments like, “I had never even heard about that place before, and now it’s my new favorite!”

Cook and Dagger, Greenville: This is my number one favorite restaurant in Rhode Island. We’re talking modern American that can please grandpa with a killer cheeseburger AND wow your foodie aunt with their unbeatable ricotta gnocchi bolognese. I’ve literally introduced dozens of people to C&D, and no one has ever been disappointed.

Revival, Warren: The decor, atmosphere and (above all else) cuisine at Revival is incredible. It’s rustic, classy, comfortable and sophisticated; the osso bucco is out of this world, and there’s no better place to spend a wintery New England evening.

Nectar De la Vida, Warren: This is one of the most underrated places in the state for coffee and lunch options. The best salmon sandwich I’ve ever had, the best pumpkin spice latte I’ve ever had and my favorite whoopie pie of all-time have all come from this excellent, ultra-inviting cafe.

Perella’s Ristorante, Warren: Who doesn’t want a traditional and authentic Italian dinner? Nobody, that’s who! Forget parking on Federal Hill. Go to Perella’s, order the special and tell Big Lou that Chuck sent you.

Boneheads Wing Bar, West Warwick: Okay, you got me. “Hidden gem?” There aren’t a lot of RI residents who don’t already know about the magnificent wings at Boneheads. But if you know someone who hasn’t been there, they will forever thank you for introducing them to the amazing, next-level wings and sauces at this awesome place.

RI Food Fights, Everywhere: An RI Food Fights passport is the ticket to anyone’s heart. They do monthly food-fight events where you get to taste and vote for the best of Rhode Island’s food scene. To explain it simply; last January, RI Food Fights hosted their “Lord of the Wings” event. For $25, they offered a passport that gives you six free chicken wings at 34 different restaurants in the area (like Boneheads, Pizza J and The Dorrance). That’s more than 200 chicken wings! Imagine throwing THAT gift at your brother on Christmas morning! RIFF does wing, burger, taco, pizza events (and more) all year round.

This holiday season, if you grab from this list, you can surprise the people you love AND support the hardworking people around us who are dedicated to creating outstanding experiences for their customers. But most of all, you can seem like a wicked smart, “in-the-know,” hipster cool dude (or dudette). And isn’t that what Christmas is all about?

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