A few summers ago I went to North Conway on vacation with friends. They suggested — no demanded — that we eat dinner at The Flatbread Company. Not wanting to disappoint our traveling companions, we agreed. What started out as a simple vacation meal surprisingly morphed into a memorable evening, courtesy of the spectacular food, drinks and overall vibe. You can imagine, then, my delight when I discovered that The Flatbread Company opened a restaurant in Providence.
Occupying the former home of Adesso, Flatbread is the new fun spot for families and groups of friends. It’s so large it occupies the entire expanse of the block, with plenty of spaces for dining, relaxing or hanging out at the enormous bar. The restaurant is a feast for the senses. The first thing you notice before you even open the door is the smell of the clay oven, conjuring up memories of a camping trip or baking homemade bread. Visually the place is stunning, with lots of thoughtful artwork and a rustic/modern décor. An eclectic mix of music blares over the speakers, competing with the din of the many diners and drinkers, making this not a great choice if you’re looking for a quiet night out or coming off a migraine. For the rest of us, however, all that hustle and bustle adds to the festive ambience.
At the back of the restaurant sits a small library with couches and comfy chairs. The hostess told us it’s a great spot for families to wait for their table or take-out while the kids jump up and down on the couches. Hmmm … I guess this place gives new definition to the term “family-friendly”? Unfortunately for us, however, a private group was using the library that night, forcing us to move our jumping to the outdoor patio (with four boys under the age of 9, no WAY we were hanging out in the small waiting area, beer or no beer). Thankfully, after a mere 10 minutes of freezing our asses off in the unseasonably cold April air, the hostess informed us that our table was ready.
She sat us at a large table in the middle of the restaurant with a great view of the flaming brick oven and open kitchen. One glance of the menu tells you this is no ordinary pizza joint, as its emphasis is on “free” – free-range, nitrate-free, chemical-free, hormone-free, pesticide-free, even gluten-free should your digestive system so require. Every item feels like a healthy choice, even the pepperoni pizza with its nitrate-free pepperoni on organic flatbread made from 100% organically grown wheat milled into white flour with the wheat germ restored, and topped with all natural, whole-milk mozzarella and homemade garlic oil. Phew! I suspect even most hardcore Paleo fitness guru would approve of this meal.
The selection isn’t huge: salads, pizzas and dessert; no calzones or subs to distract the chefs from doing what they do best. The drink menu is just as thoughtful with an incredible selection of cocktails and craft beers, mostly from local breweries. We all opted for beer because, well, tequila and pizza just don’t taste that great together.
We started with a family style salad — organic mixed greens tossed with vegetables, sesame seeds, crunchy sea kelp and the house-made ginger-tamari dressing — insanely yummy and fresh. Shortly after, our flatbreads arrived. We ordered three: pepperoni, sausage and the Providence Community Flatbread.
Everyone loved the pepperoni, which tasted more like pepperoni-flavored bacon to me (and that’s not a bad thing … trust me). The flatbread was miraculously free (there’s that word again) of grease, meaning no one had to sop up orange oily globs with paper napkins. The sausage got mixed reviews. My brother – who’s a bit of a connoisseur of all things cured in a casing — thought the sausage flavor was too subtle. He prefers a big honk of greasy pork balls on his pizza. I, on the other hand, thought the delicate sausage crumbles perfectly complemented, rather than overpowered, the other ingredients. To each his own on that one. The Providence Community Flatbread was my personal favorite. The toppings — caramelized onions, mushrooms and a mixture of cheeses — paired beautifully with the delicate tomato sauce and light, crispy flatbread dough.
If you’re expecting traditional pizza, avoid this place like the plague. There’s nothing traditional about their food, or their commitment to using only fresh, local, organic ingredients. Even the way they slice their flatbread is unique, with each piece having its own style and shape. But, if you want a delicious meal that feels thoughtful and healthy, get to the East Side and order yourself a pie. There’s even a free (but small) parking lot out front.
The Flatbread Company is open 7 days a week, from 11:30am – 10pm. Now that the weather’s finally warm, get there early to score a seat on the patio.