Boston Restaurant Blog -- January, 2011
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Because I go to so many different restaurants, there are relatively few that I return to multiple times. One such place is located in the Federal Hill section of Providence, which is considered the city's "Little Italy." Now it may indeed seem strange that I go to Sicilia's Pizzeria again and again, considering there is a second location right here in Boston (near BU). But there are a few reasons why I go there fairly often; one is that I find myself in Providence more than nearly any other city in New England, and another is that the Boston location is a bit on the generic side--and gets mixed reviews for their pizza. And the one in Providence is a total throwback, a no-frills pizza joint that is a bit rough around the edges, yet has some really good pies, including a thin-crust version, a regular, and a rather interesting deep-dish pizza that is stuffed with any number of ingredients. On our recent trip to Sicilia's, we tried two of these three pies, and as always, they were both very satisfying.
Sicilia's Pizzeria is located at the eastern edge of Federal Hill, within sight of the gateway arch which contains (depending on whom you ask) either a pine cone or a pineapple on it. Walking into the eatery, the first thing you see is a tiny bar to the left and a sub shop-like counter area to the right. And while many people indeed order their pies at the counter for takeout, if you walk past the counter and the bar, the long, narrow space opens up into a dining room out back with a number of booths and tables of various sizes, including some really long tables for big groups. The atmosphere is plain but not unattractive, with wood paneling, a tile floor, a large wall mural of Venice in the back, and a mix of old-fashioned lamps and track lighting. Service can range from friendly to gruff, depending on the day (and the server), but the gruffness only adds to the old-school atmosphere of the place.
On our most recent trip to Sicilia's, we started with a Caesar salad that was a bit on the watery side but otherwise all right (and it came with a boatload of anchovies on the side). For our meal, we decided to go with a thin-crust pepperoni pizza and a regular-crust hot pickled pepper pizza. The thin-crust was, as usual, cut up into various geometric shapes instead of triangular slices, and was very good, with a nice mix of flavors coming from the slightly oily crust, hearty tomato sauce, greasy cheese, and spicy pepperoni. The regular-crust pizza was a bit better, mainly because the cheese seemed to have more flavors coming out of it, including nutty, bitter, and earthy tastes, making the cheese on the thin-crust seem almost bland in a way. And the peppers added a real kick to the regular-crust pizza without adding a watery consistency to the pie (which can often happen when you add pickled peppers as a topping). Service this time around was very good, with our server being friendly and efficient throughout. Prices were cheap, with our fairly good-sized pizzas being about $8.00 each.
Sicilia's has always been one of my favorite spots in New England for pizza, not because it rivals such standouts as Regina's in Boston's North End, Santarpio's in East Boston, and Pepe's in New Haven, CT, for quality, but because walking into the place feels like a slice (no pun intended) of yesteryear. Providence may entail quite a bit more driving for me than the Boston University area, but for a combination of food and overall atmosphere, I think it's worth the trip.
For those who want the address for Sicilia's, here it is: Sicilia's Pizzeria, 181 Atwells Avenue, Providence, RI, 02903. The phone number is (401) 273-9222.
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