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Best Italian Restaurant in Rhode Island
Have you been to the best kept secret in Rhode Island? No one compares. Forget Federal Hill Located in West Warwick, RI Voted best Italian Restaurant by Rhode Island Monthly
By: RE JOHNSON
Rhode Islands Best Italian Restaurant
Voted best Itialian restaurant by Rhode Island Monthly
With good reason...
A romantic, quiet, full service gourmet hidaway
Forget Federal Hill
You have to try this place!
Read the reviews!
"In Chef Alfie We Trust
Terms like "destinaton dining" and "authentic Italian" take on new meaning at San Vivaldo Trattoria, which is tucked away in the middle of West Warwick with Tuscan-born culinary mastermind Chef Alfiero Bigazzi at the helm.
"Don't be difficult, relax and drink lots of wine!" trumpets the restaurant's Web site. Chef Alfiero Bigazzi has built quite the "in-the-know"
By the early 1970s, Bigazzi was sharpening his skills in Florence and Genoa. Following the death of his father, he eventually found his way to New England, garnering acclaim as a personal chef to high-rollers ("whales") at Foxwoods.
Bigazzi ultimately purchased an affordable and accessible spot, a tiny red house on Providence Street in West Warwick, less than one mile from the base of Bald Hill Road. “Too many places in Providence, and too expensive by the water,” he explains.
The interior of the red house is tiny at best (in restaurant-speak, we’re talking six at the bar, along with five four-tops and one six-top). A bay window is lined with bottles (Bigazzi boasts more than 600 wines, ranging from $18 to $750), and Italian soccer jerseys on wire hangers adorn the walls.
The Web site declares that “this is a one-man operation, so please order quickly.” He ain’t kidding. The busy weekends usually require a bartender/server helping him out, but on Sundays Bigazzi rolls solo, ably serving as host, waiter, and chef.
“I feel bad because everyone comes at once on Friday and Saturday, and I can’t seat everybody, so if you don’t have a reservation, don’t bother showing up,” he informed us during a quiet Sunday night visit. Then came the inquiry: “So whaddya wanna eat this evening, gentlemen?”
“Um, well, we saw on your Web site that you have — ” I sputtered, and received an aspetta, or “that’s enough out of you,” in Italian. There is no printed menu on the premises, because Bigazzi will recite whatever is fresh that day, the golden rule in Italian cooking.
We placed our gastronomical trust in the chef, a wise decision from start to finish. Fifteen minutes later, two small plates arrived as Bigazzi described the visually alluring offerings: a small mound of mesclun greens dressed with homemade aged balsamic, a slice of bruschetta topped with chick peas and his own smoked mozzarella, and a cold stuffed tomato with couscous topped with a rectangular slab of raw tuna.
Words cannot describe the color scheme and flavors bursting off this plate. My buddy Tom summed up the sense of discovery succinctly: “I can’t believe I’m eating this — in West Warwick.”
Tom’s filet mignon was accompanied by risotto and roasted fingerling potatoes, accompanied by a small helping of marinated eggplant. The steak knife wasn’t needed, a situation akin to mom’s fork-tender pot roast, and it had a delicious, flavorful char (a coffee rub, perhaps?), which triggered another highly entertaining Alfie discourse about his dry-aged filets.
The accompanying starches were perfectly cooked and seasoned, outdone only by the tender, balsamic-infused eggplant salad of sorts. Phenomenal. We finally addressed the tortellini Bolognese, then simultaneously put down our forks, and paused with eyes wide open; not often will a bowl of pasta leave you speechless. Bigazzi beamed with a prideful smile when we acknowledged the fresh-grated nutmeg in this simple, yet masterful presentation.
I was initially disappointed to learn that the coniglio in umido (rabbit braised with olives, served atop polenta) was unavailable, but all was forgotten when my spaghetti allo seoglio arrived with a boatload of cuttlefish, calamari (tentacles intact — hallelujah!), and diced clams, accented by a distinctly clean and fruity olive oil. All three plates were wiped clean.
It was a bit late for Bigazzi’s signature tableside flambé desserts, and he instead headed back to prep his tortino di risotto al forno, a rice cake sautéed in rum and topped with dried fruits. Each bite revealed layers of crisp, dense, and chewy textures like a warm oatmeal cookie.
Chef Alfie then poured a round of Chianti and delivered a plate of that smoked mozzarella with thin, fresh-baked foccacia crisps to officially end the evening. He broke down the math as he delivered our tab, $50 for all three entrees. What? The appetizer plates were $8 apiece and our dessert under $10. To say we were elated to have stumbled upon this place is an incalculable understatement.
San Vivaldo newbies may find Bigazzi initially abrasive (just remember: futbol and Fiats), but nothing could be further from the truth. While recently recommending San Vivaldo to a friend, an eavesdropper chimed in, “escargot, veal scallopini and crepes Suzette for dessert; perfect every time.” As if we needed three more reasons to revisit Chef Alfie.
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The Best Italian restaurant in Rhode Island. Period You will tell your friends after dining here..the food is outstanding and the atmosphere is perfect...why wait on a saturday night for a fast food table..head here...you will be pleased and excited to tell your friend the gem italian restaurant you have found!