I took a detour from writing about Princeton and preparing to move (which was really the motivator) to spend an evening in NYC with friends. After dining at The Modern, the memories get a bit fuzzy... drinks at Stone Rose , more at MoBar where I finally lost my scarf and gloves (subzero temperature be damned) and finally, the discovery of a man's Tiffany ring in my purse the next morning. It kind of looks like a wedding band. Clearly, a well spent evening for me...
After that adventure, I decided that I needed a less complicated escape; so the next morning I headed up to Providence.
Providence, RI. is a small but vibrant city with great restaurants, a buzzing college scene and alot of attitude. My friend tells me that the city has a Napoleon complex, which might be true - there is alot of local pride mixed with prejudice against big, bad neighboring Boston- but I think that New Englanders are just a heartier bunch who don't tolerate insincerity or trivial nonsense. It's just too cold outside.
To get a taste of the real thing, we headed to Federal Hill for dinner. It's the Italian section of the city and in case you get confused about where you are, the hints are everywhere. White lights are strung across the street, the fire hydrants are all painted red, white and green, and a huge pigna (pinecone), the Italian symbol for abundance and quality, hangs on an arch high over main drag Atwells Avenue.
We started at Tony's Colonial Food Store where my friend, who is Italian-American, bought some serious looking olive oil. The food selection was outrageous and when I commented on the abundance of products in the 'gourmet food shop', she immediately corrected me - "It's not a gourmet shop, it's a neighborhood Italian grocery!" for christ's sake (see what I mean about the attitude?)
As a 'severe winter storm' threatened outside, we arrived at dark and cozy Andino's for dinner. I've since heard people describe Andino's as 'the real Italian', a restaurant that harkens back to 1940's Little Italy. It is a very Sinatra - Dean Martin kind of place, with a staff decked out in crisp white shirts and black vests, intimate tables in a room filled with lively conversation. We were seated in the back room under a tent strewn with white lights and ordered Pork Chops alla Pizzaiola (I had to ask twice how to spell that) and baked ziti, which isn't exotic, I know... but it was all about comfort and warmth for us. The portions were intended for a family of 10, I am sure (as was the amount of wine they poured) and the price was shockingly reasonable.
On our way out the door, we ran into three young guys who asked us how Andino's was. "Excellent food, great atmosphere and inexpensive", we responded. Simple as that. Sometimes that's all you need.