Twelve Plants, Five Courses, One Summer Series: Plant-based meals even a carnivore could love

“If this were my situation every night, I’d never eat meat again,” my friend Melissa said of our Twelve (Plants) dinner in Newport. For her birthday, we traveled to Root on Broadway, where Twelve (Plants) was popping up with a 5-course, plant-based, prix fixe dinner. While several restaurants offer vegan cuisine, and several offer a chef’s tasting menu, I can’t think of any other fine dining experience in which every course is designed to be plant-based. And as my friend Melissa pointed out, the food is so magnificent that even the most avid meat-and-cheese lover will not feel deprived.   

Since mid-June, Chef Pete Carvelli and Chef Stefano Mariotta have been collaborating on a biweekly summer dining series, creating unique multi-course menus for each dinner. I asked the chefs in advance what wine might pair well with our meal, since the dinners are BYOB, and the chefs suggested a rosé, which was exciting because Melissa and I love rosé and we’d have probably brought a bottle regardless of the answer. 

We arrived at 6pm for the early seating (the second begins at 8pm), and we were given two wine glasses. Root on Broadway is a plant-based breakfast and lunch spot—in fact, it’s the only exclusively plant-based restaurant in Newport—and by day they offer juices and smoothies, breakfast bowls and grain bowls, as well as sandwiches, teas and coffees. But since summer 2020, owners Paul and Kate Webber have collaborated with Carvelli to host biweekly pop-up dinners. 

The interior is small but bright, with wooden high-top tables, a couple of round tables and window bar seats affixed with vibrant yellow chairs. The scents from the openly designed kitchen wafted to the corner where Melissa and I sat. “This is going to be good,” we both said, eyeing the chefs at work.

We began with an amuse bouche: a chickpea panisse with beet “ketchup” and garlic aioli. This chickpea fritter shaped like a French fry was perfectly crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. Although I’m not keen on “regular” ketchup, I would buy bottles of this beet version. It was sweet, but not in an artificial way. 

Along with the panisse was a cubed watermelon “sashimi,” topped with avocado purée and served over a bed of toasted panko. Neither Melissa nor I could understand how roasted watermelon could adopt the exact same texture as sashimi; this is a culinary feat of mystical proportions.

The creativity of each dish skyrocketed from there. The first course was a leek cooked in a banana leaf (which we slid off onto a separate plate), with parsley emulsion, bell pepper couli and toasted hazelnuts. The typically tough leek was softened, the hazelnuts gave it a crunch and the parsley was unusually distinct. The second course, a cucumber ceviche topped with sliced radishes, was served with a cucumber dill sauce, avocado and lime crema. Dill is one of my secret favorite ingredients, and the lime crema really took it to the next level, making me feel like I was on a mountaintop in Peru.

Between the third course — seared artichoke hearts with artichoke emulsion, black olive caramel and crispy shallots — and the fourth course (which I’ll return to), we were given a palate-cleansing fennel sorbet. Who makes a perennial herb into a sorbet? It was surprisingly accurate to the taste of fennel, yet also sweetly palatable (as well as cleansing). 

It was the fourth and main course, however, that did me in: a Hearts of Palm “No-Crab” Cake. Served with a spicy dill remoulade and roasted red pepper salsa, it mimicked the very taste and texture of crab cakes. It’s hard to choose a favorite among the plates, but this might have been my favorite. 

We ended the experience with a Lemon Tart, served with seasonal berries, lemon gel and a marsala cookie; it was light, zesty and refreshing. Basically a health food. Best of all, the five courses were of the Goldilocks variety — “just right” in size — allowing us to get our fill without needing to be wheeled out after dinner.  

The Twelve (Plants) summer series extends through August, likely into the fall — but also keep an eye out for a future endeavor between this dynamic duo of chefs as they work on a new project called Fire and Fennel (@fire_and_fennel). If there’s one thing I learned from this entirely plant-based dinner series, it’s that Chef Carvelli and Chef Mariotta will know how to surprise and delight you.

Reserve a spot at TwelvePlants.co or follow @twelve.plants on Instagram; Root on Broadway, 6 Broadway, Newport

Melting Pot: The George on Washington unifies good food, good friends and good music

Photo credit: Jeremy Mularella

“I’m not only the general manager, I’m also the musical talent,” Alex Tomasso says when he checks on our table near the end of our meal. “Not tonight,” he adds when he sees me eyeing the piano, “but on Thursdays, from 7:30 – 10:30pm.”

My best food friend, Jeremy, and I were finishing our last course at the newly opened The George on Washington, a piano bar and upscale casual dining restaurant. When you walk into the space — remembered fondly by downtown frequenters as Local 121 — you’ll see why “upscale casual” works. 

The main dining room is upscale spacious, with gilded columns, silver and gold curtains, and ivory padded partitions and upholstered chairs. This half of the restaurant was renovated into an elegant dining area, and I rather enjoyed the wide, throne-like chairs. I could have easily sat cross-legged within the chair’s girth, making it the stretchy-pants of interior decorating: Please, eat as much as you’d like … you have plenty of room to grow.

Photo credit: Jeremy Mularella

Conversely, the bar space is casual, but it feels as if you are taking a step into history: The mahogany panels and stained glass windows harken to its earlier days, offering a much different vibe from the main dining area. The baby grand Steinway is tucked into the corner, and bright red seating cubes vibrantly pop against the dark backdrop. Opposite the piano corner is an unmistakable mural of George Washington, hand-painted as a mosaic — each square of George’s face is placed onto a different wooden panel square — courtesy of an AS220 artist-in-residence. “It’s the portrait on the dollar bill,” Tomasso said. “It took the artist three weeks. He also painted the ‘We the people,’” he added, nodding to the wall above us. I hadn’t noticed the calligraphy underneath the trim, written in the original script of our Constitution. 

On Friday and Saturday evenings, The George is filled with the sounds of jazz music, and there’s even live music to accompany their Sunday brunch with “endless” mimosas. But on this Tuesday night, it was quiet and intimate, with the exception of soft sounds drifting through the speakers, featuring the best of Fleetwood Mac, Journey and Neil Diamond. 

Photo credit: Jeremy Mularella

We acquired our menus via QR codes, and the cocktail menu featured several Rhode Island spirits (Sons of Liberty whiskey, Rhodium gin and vodka) and US-history inspired names: the Benjamin Franklin, the Lady Liberty. Jeremy looked no further than the Thomas Jefferson — Rhodium Coffee and Black Walnut vodka, chocolate liqueur, raspberry and espresso — and I was excited to order the Betsy Ross when our waitress told us about the “Basic Betty”: a pumpkin martini made with vanilla vodka, pumpkin liqueur and walnut liqueur, Portuguese horchata and cinnamon. Basic Betty, it is.

This drink was anything but basic. I’ve done serious research on the different ways to drink a pumpkin, and this was one of my favorites. Pumpkin and horchata are the peanut butter and jelly of a fall martini. 

Elevated comfort food fills the dinner menu — American comfort food. “We don’t need any more Italian,” Tomasso joked, though their Pasta Bolognese, made with rigatoni and a beef, pork and veal sauce could easily go head-to-head with any spot on Federal Hill. 

Photo credit: Jeremy Mularella

In addition to that classic dish, Jeremy and I were feeling spicy, so we went with all the dishes that offered a kick: Roasted Buffalo Cauliflower, Grilled Spicy Sausage and the Buffalo Chicken Pizza. The cauliflower was perfectly tender and came with a smoked chipotle mayo that cooled down the spice-factor while adding its own delicious flavor. I’d classify the pizza as more of a flatbread, due to its stiff, crispy crust, and the cheddar jack cheese offered a completely different profile from the typical pizza. 

The standout dish for me was the Grilled Spicy Sausage, served on slices of garlic crostini, with a black bean puree and creole sauce. I loved this different take on bruschetta, as if it were the dark and mysterious counterpart to the bright and refreshing bruschetta of summer. It’s the perfect appetizer for these impending colder months. 

After Tomasso checked on our table, he made the rounds, chatting with folks, sitting down at a few tables — clearly he knows his patrons and wants them to feel at home. At a time of unease about the next four years for our country, it’s nice to remember the sense of unity the 13 colonies once felt, and The George on Washington reminds us of those days. Moreover, our Founding Father for whom the restaurant is named always spoke well of the hospitality he received while visiting Providence; that same hospitality is what The George wants to share with you — locals and visitors alike.

121 Washington St., PVD



Molto Bene!: Giusto brings Italian like you’ve never seen it before to Newport

Photo credit: Angel Tucker

Hammetts Hotel is Newport’s newest addition to the sophisticated scads of lodgings that dot Downtown’s fashionable thoroughfares. After a grand opening in spring 2020, they’ve been going strong throughout the summer, even with the shadow of COVID-19 looming over the hospitality industry. Hammetts may have a fabulous patio complete with millennial-friendly twinkle lights and stunning views of sunset over the harbor, but what sets this boutique jewel box apart from their illustrious neighbors is, in a word, Giusto! 

While the average person may not have come across the word “Giusto” since suffering through Italian arias in high school chorus (the word is commonly found in tempo markings to denote exactness to the melody), you’ll want to revamp your thinking right away when you step inside this culinary wonderland. “Giusto” translates to “just right,” and you’ll be feeling that way throughout your entire experience at this lively and lovely eatery.

From the minute you enter, you’ll be blown away by the unique and quirky details in the form of a bright orange and white color palette with a handsome wood finish, and the fantastically weird and wonderful octopus wallpaper, which provides a great backdrop for the many Instagram shots to take of your meal. The one-of-a-kind nature of the decor goes hand in hand with Giusto’s menu, which is some of the most inventive Italian cuisine I’ve encountered in Rhode Island and beyond! Red sauce purists, take note: This is NOT your grandma’s spaghetti and meatballs, red checkered tablecloth, Lady and the Tramp style joint. Head chef Kevin O’Donnell gleefully bucks tradition with his “Freestyle Italian” menu, which gives him the opportunity to offer a dining experience that doesn’t compare to anything else in Newport. True, O’Donnell uses fresh and local ingredients and the wine list is purely classical Italian, but the tradition stops there. Instead, dig into offerings like Italian Street Corn, a beautiful marriage between Mediterranean flavors and a Mexican restaurant staple, Malfadine pasta prepared in the style of a green bean casserole, and even an out-of-the-box dessert, the Torta Caprese, which gets its decadent density from – you guessed it – tomatoes! Come here with an open mind and an empty stomach, and you surely won’t be disappointed. 

Scotch Meatball; photo credit: Angel Tucker

Speaking of empty stomachs, you’ll want to order an appetizer right when you sit down! It’s hard to contain the excitement when there’s such delish options, like the Scotch Meatball, a sizable homemade meatball stuffed with a perfectly poached egg, and Fontina en Carozza, a next-level take on mozzarella sticks with a cheese pull that’ll get you TikTok famous with one simple video! However, the crowning glory of the snack menu are the Frittelle, which are heavenly fried blobs of ricotta and honey smothered goodness. At five bucks a pop for an order of three, it’s hard to stop yourself from ordering tons of ‘em! They are addictive and insanely good! 

Ricotta Love Letters; photo credit: Angel Tucker

Of course, if you want to indulge like a true Italian, a pasta course is a must! While all of their noodle creations are made fresh in house, the Ricotta Love Letters are the ideal comfort on a cold Newport night. Picture perfectly al dente pasta wrapped gently around soft and fluffy ricotta cheese tossed in a delicate balsamic and fig sauce. It may sound strange on paper, but it’s a must-try item for sure. O’Donnell is particularly adept at marrying sweet and savory flavors to magnificent effect, and no dish on his menu does it better than these. 

Still got room for more? The entrees offered at Giusto are just as much a treat for the tummy as they are for the eyes. Beautifully plated striped bass showcases fresh-caught tender white fish direct from the sea just outside your table, and meat eaters will die of happiness when they gaze upon the wonder that is the slow braised Heritage Pork Shoulder. Foodies will flip over the calamari, which is nothing like you’d expect, but ties neatly into the ongoing theme of unexpected delights. Many restaurants in the neighborhood add Rhode Island’s state appetizer to their menu, but do any of them serve it battered in a squid ink tempura? The towering plate arrives at the table in a midnight shade that truly encapsulates Giusto’s flair for “Freestyle Italian,” and while it took me a minute to adjust my expectations, I cleaned off the plate pretty quickly!

Even though Giusto has been open for just a short time (and no less during a pandemic!), they’ve already become one of the coolest restaurants in Newport. With a tantalizing menu that you can’t get anywhere else, some of the kindest and most attentive servers and front of house staff, plus a brilliant chef at the helm, Giusto is “just right” for a one-of-a-kind night on the town! Salud!

When in Roma: Weigh your options at this Wickenden St Roman style pizzeria

At Roma Capoccia you buy pizza by the weight, just like you would on the streets of Rome. This is pizza al taglio, or as we know it, pizza by the slice. But literally it translates, “to the cut,” which is more accurate to what you’ll find in both Italy and Roma Capoccia. Instead of walking into a shop and ordering a pre-cut triangular slice from a big, round pie, you’ll find large rectangular slabs of pizza that are reheated when you order them. (The dough is actually designed to be reheated, due to its high hydration and the fact that it must be fermented for 90-120 hours.) And then you pay based on weight.

In Rome, prices are listed by the kilo (which is why a listed price of €16 may seem alarming, but it’s unlikely you’ll eat two pounds of pizza). At Roma, you’ll find pizza priced by the ounce. This seems like a frightening concept for those of us with an inability to judge what “one ounce” looks like, and for those of us with a proclivity toward one-of-everything-please. I hear you. The first time I got Fro-Yo at a self-serve shop, I ended up footing a $14 bill. I could only imagine that ordering pizza by weight would result in my racking up $75 in charges.

Good news: That didn’t happen. At Roma, I was guided by a pizzaiolo, a helpful employee wielding giant scissors, and she made the final cut. She indicated the size of one ounce by holding her fingers in a small square and told us which pizzas were likely to be heavier based on their toppings. She also gave us an “average” size that people choose, which was a long strip across, about 3” thick. I ordered four of those, as did my friend. It ended up being $13, which means I spent more money on frozen yogurt than I did on pizza.

The best news? Each of those strips was big enough to share, meaning my friend and I got to sample eight different types of pizza! This is bliss, my friends. The menu changes regularly, and the toppings range from traditional (eg, margherita) to inventive (sweet potatoes, candied orange, chestnuts, goat cheese, sage and garlic aioli — this was my favorite). They also offer vegan options, and wine and beer. I recommend the Frescobaldi Rémole red, not only because it’s fun to say, but because it’s delicious. 

Rhode Island’s first Roman-style pizzeria is worth its weight … in pizza, and maybe gold, too.

468 Wickenden Street, PVD; @romacapocciapizza

Eat Your Veggies: Saladworks lets you eat healthy on the go

Photo courtesy of Saladworks

With an anticipated opening of March 25, Saladworks is moving to New England for the first time and settling into downtown Providence.

“There are over 100 locations worldwide,” owner John Pisaturo told me, “but most are in outdoor strip malls. There’s only one other in a standalone downtown location [in Philadelphia] – Rhode Island will be the second.”

John and his wife, Aileen Soriano-Pisaturo, are confident that the walkability of our downtown area and the restaurant’s location — at 75 Fountain Street, where the Providence Journal used to be headquartered — will garner heavy foot traffic. Just to be certain, Pisaturo bought a counter and took data for 10 days, at morning, noon and night, on weekdays and weekends, and discovered that 300 to 400 people were walking past the door every hour. He’s hoping to attract hotel guests, residents from local condos and downtown employees on their lunch break.

Saladworks first opened in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, in 1986, long before the vegetarian and vegan lifestyles became common enough to merit a festival. It appears that the franchise is now, finally, “on trend.”

Those who are strictly plant-based, vegetarian, or — as Aileen taught me — “flexitarian,” meaning you’ll eat a greasy burger one day of the week, but will stick to healthier or plant-based diets on the other days of the week — will discover a satisfying meal at Saladworks. Meat-lovers among us shouldn’t worry; also on offer is pepperoni, chicken (buffalo, spicy peanut and honey bbq, to name a few), shrimp, turkey and bacon.

The main attraction is, of course, the salad bowl. You can choose from one of their signature bowls (Aileen recommends the Farmhouse Bowl, with roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash and glazed pecans) or create your own, with more than 60 toppings and 10 different dressings to choose from.

“So, it’s like Subway, but for salads?” I ask.

“More like a Chipotle,” John says.

In addition to green salads, they offer gluten-free grain bowls, sandwiches, soups and wraps (note: any bowl can be made into a wrap).

Saladworks will be open daily, from 11am – 9pm, with delivery service and in-house seating (with a WiFi bar), plus outdoor seating in the warmer months. Next time you’re in need of a healthy quick meal or exhibiting your freedom as a flexitarian, stroll downtown. “There’s something for everyone,” John says, “from the simple to the complex salad lover.” 

Saladworks is located at 75 Fountain St, PVD. fb.com/SaladworksProvidence

A classy – and boozy – brunch at Vino Veritas

I should have expected nothing less than napkins folded into roses from a restaurant whose name sounds like an Ivy League university’s motto: Vino Veritas, Latin for in wine, truth” — which, I would argue, is the unofficial motto for all great institutions of learning. But I had somehow missed this restaurant when it debuted on the corner of Broadway and Harkness, just a stone’s throw away from Nick’s on Broadway, and I realized I haven’t brunched on the West Side in far too long. With the help of my trusty Motif assistant (ie, publisher Mike Ryan), we arrived at high noon on a chilly-but-sunny Saturday.

String lights outline the full-length windows — a twinkling, inviting touch — and underneath the black awning is the entrance. Upon entering through the large lavender door, I was struck by purple. Purple, the color of royalty. Purple, the color of creativity and pride. Purple, the color of ripe grapes at harvest. At Vino Veritas, you’ll find all shades of purple, from the violet rose-shaped napkins to the placemats in stripes of eggplant and periwinkle to the lilac-colored font on their menus. Even the throw pillows on the periphery window seats (not for seating, just for pillows) have purple accents. I loved it — it wasn’t excessive or kitschy, but it did make me feel more dignified. 

The space is the perfect size for an intimate gathering, but not so small it’s stifling. The traditional bar is straight to the back, and the Bloody Mary Bar is just in front of it. Had Mike and I understood this was a Bloody Mary Bar from the beginning, it might have altered our beverage selection (shrimp, bacon and squares of grilled cheese sandwiches are available as garnish!), but we took a different, less traditional route for breakfast imbibing.

With three cocktail menus to choose from — Martini, Specialty and Breakfast — we didn’t even consider the restaurant’s namesake of wine. (Sorry, not sorry?) Mike ordered their other namesake drink, the Veritas Martini, with Ketel One, Chambord, pineapple and prosecco. It tasted like a mimosa-meets-martini, and it was delightfully refreshing. I opted for something fit for a Friday evening, the Advoczar (I dare you to say that five times … not even fast, just five times), with Woodford Reserve, Crave Chili Chocolate Liqueur, walnut bitters and Drunken Cherry. This tasted like a boozy version of a Yoo-hoo with a hint of cherry. It proved to be a great pairing for the dark chocolate hot cakes that jumped out at us from the menu.

Both Mike and I were sold on the hot cakes, especially since we saw they came with bourbon maple syrup. Although the menu isn’t huge, it has something for everyone, and multiple somethings for people like us with childlike sweet tooths. (Do we add Portuguese sweetbread French toast or beignets to our chocolate chip pancakes? We chose the latter because of the promise of crème-anglaise and fresh berries — thus making it a health food.) On the savory side, we saw a range of selections, from tofu scramble to Angus burger, with all forms of eggs in between. And as a special that day, they were offering a breakfast flatbread, with scrambled eggs, arugula, bacon, mozzarella and hot peppers. It was a no-brainer; we chose the special.

I expected a typical flatbread, one that I could easily eat by myself but would share with Mike to feel better about my life choices. This, however, was like no flatbread I’ve ever seen. It was served on a wooden board that nearly spanned the length of the table. The dough was thick, like focaccia or Roman-style crust, the hot peppers adding the perfect amount of heat, and it was the first time ever I couldn’t finish my half — and not for lack of trying. This is a flatbread worth sharing … with several people.

We ended on a sweet note, with our dessert-like breakfast plates, the dark chocolate hot cakes and the beignets, and we couldn’t finish those either. Folks, history was being made that day. These pancakes (three) were topped with a snowy layer of powdered sugar, and they stood tall and proud. Like the flatbread, these were thick. The beignets, after being fully submerged in the crème-anglaise (a heavenly sauce) and topped with a slice of strawberry were the perfect ending to my post-January diet resolve.

The best part of this brunch experience was that we didn’t have to wait an hour to be seated. I’ve now added another notch on the Broadway belt of great brunches, and I’m looking forward to seeing this purple palace when the sun goes down. Latin may be a dead language, but Vino Veritas is fully alive and well.

Vino Veritas, 486 Broadway, PVD @vinoveritasri

Locale Profile: Ellie’s Bistro: From Paris to Providence

“In a sea of Providence’s Italian bakeries, we are the only French bakery — but that’s not to take anything away from our neighbors,” says Alane  Spinney, the “Den Mother” of Ellie’s, having been around since the bakery’s opening day in January 2013. “If you want a cannoli, go to Scialo bakery on Federal Hill. But if you want a canelé, come to Ellie’s.”

I’ve heard Alane give the backstory of Ellie’s a hundred times with RI Red Food Tours, as it’s one of our favorite stops. But now that the bakery has expanded and moved from Washington Street to Weybosset, directly across from the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC), it has transformed into Ellie’s Bistro, offering breakfast, lunch and dinner. 

Because I’d frequented Ellie’s for years, a truly European-style bakery with seats for only seven customers, I was familiar with its high-quality lattes and to-die-for macarons, not to mention their Signature Breakfast Sandwiches and fresh croissants with jam, but I was curious what their expanded menu would entail. So I called my trusted food friend Jeremy, and we made reservations for dinner on a Sunday night.

The new space is beautiful. With glossy white brick and black trim, marble topped tables with fresh flowers, delicately lettered gold decals on the windows, an open kitchen and framed photos of this building’s history, it’s at once inviting and charming. The location that sat abandoned for over a decade, where it was once a piano store and then a pharmacy — where Alane’s father worked half a century ago — now welcomes up to 40 diners, with window seats, booths, a large community table and a handful of bar stools.

That’s right, bar stools: Ellie’s Bistro is serving French wines, ciders and beers, and theater-themed cocktails, such as the Drama Queen, made with Crop Meyer Lemon Vodka, framboise, campari, orange blossom water and bubbles. On this particular night, however, I was craving a white wine, and I knew they offered a great choice because the food tour guests couldn’t stop raving about it. I asked manager Max Hodge to point me in the right direction.

“I think you’re wanting the Domaine,” he said, referring to the Domaine F.E. Trimbach Pinot Blanc. 

“YES,” I said, unable to pronounce half of those words.

Jeremy wanted an espresso martini, which arrived the color of dark chocolate with a light foam glaze, garnished with espresso beans. We clinked glasses, and then made our way through a sea of delectable items on the menu.

We diligently read the description for each entrée (appetizer), plat (main), and accompagnements (side) and, as usual, had trouble narrowing it down to a number of dishes we could realistically consume. We began with the baked chèvre, a smooth white cheese served hot inside a ramekin, with crusty bread, pear confit and pea trendrils, as well as the lightly grilled cucumber, served with ricotta and spring onion pistou.

The baked chèvre, which is a cheese made from goat’s milk, was rich and earthy, its savory nature counterbalanced with the sweet pear confit. It’s a rare day that I encounter a cheese I don’t like (bleu, I’m looking at you), and this is a reliable go-to dish for anyone who fancies cheese.

The cucumbers far exceeded my expectation from the moment they touched the table. Their presentation was nothing short of a painting, an ornately designed arrangement of bright green marinated cucumbers, sunflower seeds, purple flower petals and a bright white whipped ricotta, drizzled with pistou (think pesto but without pine nuts). The cold dish maximized different textures, with the slightly softer but still crisp cucumbers, the crunchy seeds and the soft ricotta. It was a light and refreshing dish. 

For our second course, Jeremy ordered a burger that came with one of my favorite cheeses, gruyere, and a side of pommes frites — aka, fries — with three dipping sauces: duck gravy, truffle ketchup and garlic aioli. Even though this wasn’t my meal, I helped myself, mostly to the fries because I acquired an immediate addiction to the truffle ketchup (and I don’t even like ketchup), but these fries were slender and crisp and delicious. The bite of burger I had was cooked perfectly, juicy and flavorful. 

I was looking for another small-ish dish, so I ordered the Pork and Pistachio Terrine. I was envisioning, however, a tartine — an open faced sandwich — rather than a terrine, which is a pâté made in a pottery container served cold. 

Neither Matthew Varga, the executive chef, nor Melissa Denmark, the executive pastry chef, have ever led me astray, so I dove in adventurously. And I was pleasantly surprised! The accompanying dijon mustard and dressed greens, along with the crispy bread, were perfect complements, and I cleaned my plate.

Unfortunately, my lunch that day had consisted of ice cream, so Jeremy and I regretfully skipped dessert, but I’ve since been back to treat myself to a bouchon, a chocolate toffee chip cookie, and a coconut blueberry cheesecake on a chocolate graham crust, so I haven’t been left wanting. With the same powerhouse that’s steered Gracie’s to eight AAA four diamond awards, this sister restaurant is in good hands. Everything is fresh, local and seasonal, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get Alane to spin you a yarn. “They call me OE — Original Equipment. As a 13th generation Rhode Islander, I can answer any question you might have about Rhode Island in general or Providence in particular.” Then she leans in a little closer. “I know where all the bodies are buried.”

Whether you’re looking for a quick breakfast, a soothing cup of coffee, a relaxed lunch or dinner before a PPAC show, come to Ellie’s and be transported to a little bistro in Paris, along with a slice of Providence’s history.

225 Weybosset Street, PVD; @elliesprov