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My Travels/ Restaurant & Market Reviews

Review of Andino’s Italian Restaurant in Providence, RI

Review of Andino’s Italian Restaurant in Providence, RI

My husband and I drive all around searching for the ultimate restaurants. A hour and a half drive is not out of the question. So, we’ve eaten at a lot of restaurants. There are very few that stand out above the rest. One of them is Andino’s Italian Restaurant in Providence, RI. We’ve been there many times. And there quality is right there every time.

This last time, we went for a late lunch, early dinner. We were in the area, and just couldn’t pass by the exit without stopping in. Andino’s is located in the Federal Hill area of Providence. If you haven’t been there, it is a quaint area, rich with Italian restaurants, food shops and bakeries. The La Pigna sculpture, a traditional symbol of welcome, abundance and quality, hangs from the center arches, with pineapples on them greet you on Atwells Avenue.

La Pigna Sculpture

La Pigna Sculpture

Within a short walk, you can go to Scialo Bakery, Tony’s Colonial Food Store and Venda Ravioli to name a few. In the warmer months, you can dine outside in many of the restaurants or at Depasquale Plaza. Its truly a great place to sit, and relax, and enjoy life.

DePasquale Plaza

DePasquale Plaza

 

Tonys Colonial Food Store

Tony’s Colonial Food Store

As in the Italian definition of the sculpture welcoming you into the neighborhood, Andino’s is truly welcoming, and their food is certainly rich in abundance and quality. You can tell in the finished product, that they use only the highest quality ingredients. Usually, when you get quality, the quantity suffers. Not here. I got Chicken Picatta here for lunch the other day, and had to bring the rest home. The Chicken Picatta was $ 10.95 for lunch. The same quality and quantity you get for dinner. We usually sit right by the window, and watch the world go by, as we enjoy our delicious meal. We got to talking to some great people at the bar who were having lunch, had some great conversation, and got some great tips on the areas great finds from the locals. It truly is a neighborhood place. This is a place you just have to try. Trust me, you will thank me later!

Andinos

Andinos

Chicken Picatta

Chicken Picatta – My Favorite

Chicken Pizziola

Chicken Pizziola

Andino’s Italian Restaurant
171 Atwells Ave
Providence, RI 02903
401-453-3164 or 401-421-3715

andinositalianrestaurant.com

 

 

My Travels/ Restaurant & Market Reviews

Review of Joe and Maria’s Trattoria Restaurant in Norwood, MA

Joe & Maria’s Trattoria Restaurant 

I’d like to take a break from posting recipes, to my second passion…eating great food out! My husband and I have just discovered a great restaurant in the Boston area called “Joe and Maria’s Trattoria” restaurant. It’s located on Rt 1 in Norwood, MA. I’ve seen reviews for this restaurant before but never had the chance to make it there before. I’m so glad we finally made it there!

It is located in the bottom of the Hampton Inn hotel right on Route 1. Many people probably drive by it and don’t notice it as it is set back off the road. Big mistake! This place is truly a gem! It is owned and run by an Italian family…you guessed it, Joe and Maria. Oh and their boys. One of their boys, Paul, is the chef. He is a graduate of Johnson & Wales University, and is magnificent in the kitchen. We have been there several times, and have enjoyed everything we’ve ordered! The bar is also very nice for anyone wanting a quick bite to eat. The decor is very nice. The dining room is cozy and comfortable. That is really important to me, as I don’t know how anyone can enjoy a meal if they are not comfortable in their surroundings. I don’t know about you, but I am not very comfortable in those Boston restaurants when they squeeze you into tables that are on top of each other. If I wanted to go out to eat with strangers, I would. The wait staff are very professional, knowledgeable , and very friendly.

Scallop Caprese

We have had the Wedding Soup and Clam Chowder, both made from scratch. Yes, home made. The meatballs in the Wedding Soup we delicious. It’s the first time I’ve had meatballs in Wedding Soup that tasted like anything! That’s pretty tough to do since they’re so small. The Clam Chowder had big pieces of clams and the broth was delicious. We had the dinner salad which was ice cold and had a home made creamy balsamic dressing. We’ve also had the Panzanella Salad which was IMO over the top delicious! It was warm toasted bread, cherry tomatoes, eggplant, buffalo mozzarella, and Parmesan Reggiano served over a bed of spring mix with delicious home made dressing. One word, delicious! The bread and oil that is served is “home made” bread. Also delicious.

 
Panzanella

For entrees, we have had the Veal Parmesan, which was very tender, breaded perfectly and topped with Marinara and fresh Buffalo Mozzarella. It served with linguini. The portion was generous. My husband has had the 14 oz. Black Angus Sirlion twice. Both times the steak was melt in your mouth (his exact words)! It comes with Cabernet Sauvignon demi glace, and either garlic and herb or cajun rubbed. I thought that meant that the outside of the steak had a crust of either herb/garlic or cajun. Not true. It come with a beautiful mixture of fresh herbs and fresh garlic on top of your steak. I’m not sure what the cajun is like, but sure its delicious. The steak comes with a sweet potato gratin and vegetable.  Of coarse, you can substitute the potato for what ever you like. I have had the Chicken Picatta (my favorite!) which was tender medallions of chicken, cherry tomatoes, capers, very thinly sliced sauteed mushroom in a very lemony (yum) white wine sauce, and comes with roasted potatoes and vegetable. Needless to say, I ate it all. I have also had Chicken Marsala, twice. I must tell you. Honestly, I’ve had Chicken Marsala at a number of places. None I could actually say was as good as mine. This one was. By a long shot. Paul has a knack for making the Marsala sauce taste like nothing you’ve ever had. Dark, sweet Marsala demi glaze sauce with tender chicken, thinly sliced sauteed mushroons, prosciutto and roasted garlic.

Make sure to save room for dessert. The first time we didn’t. The second time we did. The desserts are home made as well. I had the mascarpone stack, which was a combination of cake, mascarpone cheese with a raspberry filling. My husband had an apple tart, which was clearly made fresh. Delicious.

And in true tradition, we had Lemoncello at the end of our meal.

Pizza

I’ve never had the pizza, but it looks delicious. They also have burgers and sandwiches.

We eat out a lot. And I mean a lot. We love to scout out different restaurants, and don’t have any problem driving to get to them. And there’s not many of them I would take the time to write about. A lot of them we’ve paid an arm and a leg, and got nothing special. This restaurant is a keeper. If your in the Boston area, you won’t be disappointed. I guarentee it.

Joe and Maria’s Menu

 

My Travels/ Thanksgiving

Mann’s Apple Orchards

Mann's Apple Orchards

There’s a great place I go to for apples and other produce, pies and pastries and, oh ya, my favorite Caramel corn ever from… Hutchinson’s Candy which has the best caramel glaze ever! OK, back to Mann’s. I’ve been coming to Mann’s with my family since I was a child. I can remember buying a cup of cider out of an old wooden barrel with a tap on it. While my Mom was buying apples, I was getting my cup of cider. Those were the days!


There’s been lots of changes since then, and Mann’s doesn’t make their own cider anymore on site. They now have it made for them with their same special blend of apple varieties and sweetness. Every time I go there, no matter ehat time of year, I get some apple cider.

A lot has changed since the good old days. Mann’s doesn’t just sell apples and other fruits anymore. They moved from the location I remember… twice, into a brand new huge facility, that has something for everyone. Not only do they have fruits and vegetables, they have freshly made pies and pastries, soups and prepared foods, jams, jellies and honey and they even make lunch if you’re in the area. The apple trees still surround the area, so not everything has changed. And it certainly has changed for the better.

Farm Stands & Specialty Markets/ Holiday/ My Travels/ Poultry/ Thanksgiving

Raymond’s Turkey Farm

Raymonds Turkey Farm

Raymond's Turkey Farm

Well, I’ve got my turkey on order, and will pick up in time to brine the night before, and get ready to cook for a wonderful Thanksgiving feast. When making your prized Thanksgiving turkey, there’s no short cuts on quality. There’s nothing worse than going through hours of preparation to come up with dry, stringy turkey. I’ve been making the trip to Raymond’s Turkey Farm for years, and can attest to the fact that their turkeys are the freshest and tastiest that I’ve had!

Raymonds Turkey Farm

Raymond’s Turkey Farm is a place you can go to assure you are getting the freshest. They offer fresh Broad Breasted White Holland turkey’s, that are raised in an open environment, and fed a high quality grain diet.  All of their products contain no preservatives. Other items they carry are turkey pies, cooked turkeys, prepared stuffing, squash, gravy, turkey dinners and soups. They also roast and stuff half turkeys.

During the year, when I do get a chance to go there, I pick up a few turkey pies. Especially during the fall and winter months, its quite convenient to be able to put a turkey pie in the oven, for a delicious comforting meal. Unlike, most chicken or turkey pies you buy, these pies are “packed” with meat!

The quality of these farm raised of turkeys far surpasses the quality you will get from any frozen turkey that’s shot full of preservatives (look on the label of any frozen turkey!). The meat is more tender, moist and tastier. Of course the price reflects that quality, but in my opinion, is well worth it. Especially for your Thanksgiving turkey!

At Thanksgiving time you must call your turkey request in ahead of time. There are people that come from all around to pick up their turkeys, and anyone lucky enough to be in the immediate area, or driving through, can stop in during their business hours for their products any time of year.

After I pick up my turkey at Raymond’s, I go right down the street to Mann’s Apple Orchards to get 2 gallons of cider (the best), and maybe one of their wonderful pies or pastries.

Farm Stands & Specialty Markets/ My Travels

Trip to my favorite Farm Stand…Wilson Farms

Wilson Farms in Lexington, MA is my favorite farm stand. I’ve been to others, but Wilson Farms is tops in my book.

If I’m looking for something not in season in my area, Wilson’s is THE place to go. You can get vine ripe tomatoes in the middle of winter, strawberries, the biggest blackberries you’ve ever seen, watermelon, fresh pineapple and any fruit or vegetable you can think of. They also have the best eggs, cheese, and bread, baked fresh from the oven (needless to say the loaf never gets home whole). And I know I have not even touched the surface.

Next to variety is the quality. The produce may cost a little more than in the supermarket, but it also lasts a lot longer. Tomatoes bought at the grocery store are mushy and mealy after a week. The tomatoes at Wilson’s I was still using the following week.

In the middle of winter, its great to buy a fresh bouquet of flowers to remind you Spring is just around the corner. They also have a great greenhouse to get some great potted plants in. Last year, I bought the biggest Poinsettia I’ve ever seen.

Another great feature, is they have all kinds of activities throughout the year. They have food tastings all the time. At Thanksgiving time its home made stuffing, turkey and gravy, home made cranberry sauce, all of which you can buy there. At Easter time they sell top quality hams, have Easter egg hunts for the kids, Easter egg coloring, and every bulb plant you can imagine. Every day is a holiday at Wilson’s!

Today we went there to pick up a few items. I bought two huge daisy plants that bloom in the fall, my favorite Vermont Cheddar cheese, cut fresh off the wheel to name a few. They had apple cider donut’s cooking outside and freshly dipped caramel apples. Not to mention every size mum you can imagine. They also had every kind of pumpkin you can imagine. And they make a display of it on their the side of their store. Here are some pictures I took.

Wilson Farm Pumpkin Display

Wilson Farm Pumpkin Display

Wilson Farm Display

Wilson Farm Display

Wilson Farm Pumpkin Display

Wilson Farm Pumpkin Display

Wilson Farm Pumpkins

Wilson Farm Pumpkins

Sunflowers

Sunflowers

 

Inside Wilsons Farm

Inside Wilsons Farm

 

All kinds of peppers!

All kinds of peppers!

 

Fall Flowers

Beautiful Fall Flowers!

 

Pumpkins

More pumpkins!

 

Pumpkins

Even more pumpkins!

Gourds

Gooseneck Gourds

Pumpkins

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, Pumpkins!

No matter what the season, its always fun to go to Wilson Farms in Lexington, MA. I’m so glad its in my area. It makes cooking even more fun!