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Entries in Al Forno (2)


My journey to Al Forno

Providence redeemed itself last Wednesday night.  BC had recommended her favorite restaurant in Providence and I jumped!  Well, leaped is more like it.  BC has never steered me wrong, and I knew she wouldn't here either.  Before I describe the restaurant and the most yummy food I've had, let me tell you about the little adventure I had getting to Al Forno.

I stopped by the hotel concierge to ask how far Al Forno was located from the hotel in downtown Providence and could I walk or should I take a cab (and was it safe to walk).  The concierge (still wet behind the ears) made me aware that Al Forno does not take reservations, and then he printed directions to the restaurant, saw that it was 0.8 miles away, read the directions and said " this is an easy walk - you should have no problems".  Dumb me - I listened to him.  The walk started out pleasant enough, and I told myself that this was prime exercise.  I walked along the river (don't know the name of it - just know that several ships were burned here during the Revoluntionary War) and it was very pleasant outside and the stroll (I mean the fast hardy walk) was very nice. 

The restaurant is located at 577 S. Main Street.  I'm walking and I'm walking and I'm watching the street numbers.  I get to 385 S. Main Street and....nothing.  South Main Street ends.  Well almost.  Across the street, there is an old dilapidated house with weeds up to armpits! So I ask some smarmy looking guy just hangin' out on the street corner.  He has no clue - big surprise.  Now, big dilemma.  I really want to eat at Al Forno since it's BC's fav and I think I'm already half way there but I have no clue where it's located!  So, standing on the street corner (luckily dressed in nothing 'fancy') I pull out the blackberry and track down Al Forno's restaurant.  I call the restaurant and talk to 3 different people - each time trying to explain where I'm standing (as it turns out, cross streets in Providence do not have street signs - so all I can say is that I'm at 385 S. Main - Fun times).  Marie finally takes pity on me and stays on the phone for approximately 20 - 25 minutes and slowly directs me to the restaurant.  I have to cross an off ramp from I-95 and cross a 6 lane busy highway (Marie said PLEASE PLEASE be careful crossing this road!!).  I'm walking, crossing the highway,  talking into the blackberry - so you can imagine the curious glances that I'm getting from passerby's (probably cruising to Al Forno to get ahead of me in the line).  Finally!!!  I make it to Al Forno and wait about 30 minutes for a table.  BTW, all the while, I'm cursing the little boy at the hotel front desk and dreaming of his demise once I get back to the hotel. 

But Al Forno!!!  AHHHHHHHHHH!  BC did not steer me wrong.

It's very Hampton-ish, if you know what I mean.  I waited for my table at the dark bar while nursing my DiSaranno Sour and watched the kitchen thru the half glass.  There were, perhaps, 12 chefs in the kitchen.  All wearing white chef's coats and black beret-like hats.  They were extremely busy but the kitchen had a sense of calm to it.  Amazing.  The dining room that I sat in had white-washed brick walls where some of the red brick was poking thru; the tables had tan tableclothes and then white tableclothes on top of the tan but the tan was poking out on the sides; the chairs are made of beech wood and have a faded giraffe print on the seat; fresh flowers on all the tables; and the chandeliers!  You know the hot pink lacquered candelabras that I picked up in NYC?  Well, these chandeliers are the exact same style but they are painted a very shiny white lacquer.  Loved them!!!

The food - OMG - the food!  I had a coal-fired margharitta pizza for the main course.  Very thin dough, melted cheese, pomadoro sauce in splotches rather than tomatoes, chiffonades of basil, a hint of garlic and a finishing of olive oil on top and scallions that had been put thru a mandoline and shaved so thinly that it curled (can't wait to try that trick).  I had to taste several of the scallions and do the momma taste test where you kind of pat your tongue on the roof of your mouth so that I could figure out that they were, in fact, scallions.  DELISH.  My dessert was a rhubarb tart for 2.  The tart was an island in a sea of vanilla bean sauce.  The crust was sweet and crisp.  The rhubarb was soft and tart.  The combination of the three was heaven in my mouth.  I tried but I'm sorry to say, I could not eat the entire tart.  Believe me, I tried.    

(I took a cab back to hotel and I can say, Mr. Concierge boy is still alive today!!  But only because I was too full and too satiated to be bothered.)


Nothing to report

I hope you haven't missed me too much!  I have been in pretty little Providence, Rhode Island for the past two weeks.  While I'm enjoying the town, the food hasn't been worth writing about.  I'm sorry.  But, I've tried.  I'm asking everyone I see "Where is a great place to eat dinner?"  I've asked CPAs (they usually like a good hearty meal), folks in the hotel, and folks around town.  I've eaten at restaurants that were suggested to me but I've walked away with disappointment.  All in all, I have found the food to be very bland (and lukewarm in one instance).  So I didn't want to push my sadness onto you, dear reader, and that is why I haven't posted. 

However, there is a chance for Providence's redemption!  BC loves a restaurant here - Al Forno.  She has never steered me wrong when it comes to recipes, so I'm hoping (and crossing my fingers) that this will be a winner.  I plan to eat there tonight.  Check back for my thoughts....