It is always a joy to discover a relatively new Italian/seafood restaurant that offers everything from $10 pizzas and pasta dishes to gourmet veal and shrimp entrees.
Ritrovo is the Italian word for meeting place, and this fine dining restaurant is the place to meet your friends for a casual dinner in the quiet atmosphere of the dining room or the bustling but surprisingly quiet pub area.
If you go way back, you’ll remember the corner of Main St. and Forge Rd. on the East Greenwich/Warwick line, where Jolly Jon’s once catered to the kids. The spot is now the site of an attractive two-story plaza. Ritrovo renovated the former Conversations on the second floor. There are steps, but a ramp and an elevator are also handy.
Ritrovo is the brainchild of Richard Mignanelli, owner of the popular Richard’s Pub for over 36 years, who opened the restaurant about a year and a half ago “to provide for my family’s future.”
He brought his chef, Eric LaBelle, from Richard’s, plus some of his seasoned staff. The two restaurants are close enough for him to supervise both operations.
We sat in the dining room, where our waiter, Drew, treated us royally, immediately bringing warm Italian bread, butter and seasoned olive oil to the table. We were immediately impressed. Most restaurants bring one or the other.
The bartender passed our test of martini with a twist and Black Russian, no ice. You would be amazed at how many restaurants don’t get it right.
I ordered veal marsala, praying that the veal would be tender, unlike the chewy veal I’ve gotten lately in other restaurants. My prayers were answered. The generous portions of fresh veal breasts, sautéed with mushrooms and finished in a white wine and garlic butter sauce, could be cut with a fork. A side of cavatelli with the house marina added to my enjoyment ($18.95).
Joyce chose the Seafood Cioppino, a huge serving of cavatelli in a spicy tomato seafood brother and topped with fish, shrimp and tender littlenecks, accompanied by grilled bread ($18.95). She enjoyed some of it the next day.
The appetizer list is large. On our second visit, we ordered two appetizers and shared as a meal. Drew told us that we chose the two most popular.
You must order the Calamari Ritrovo, a huge platter of tender, large calamari, lightly breaded and fried and tossed with tomatoes, red roasted peppers, olives and banana peppers, then drizzled with a sweet balsamic reduction. The combination is a taste delight, just different enough from the standard ($9.95).
Joyce ordered the pan-seared sea scallops, five huge scallops (she got three, I got two) seared in white wine and butter, served over sautéed spinach, topped with garlic infused olive oil and a balsamic reduction ($12.95, and worth every penny).
We will return again for their pasta special. For $10.95 you have your choice of six varieties of pasta, six sauces. For a small additional cost, you can add everything from meatballs to shrimp.
Ritrovo offers four selections of pizza for $9.99, a variety of sandwiches and burgers, ranging from $7.75 to $9.95, freshly made soups and salads, plus a variety of side dishes. Order their spinach aglio ($3.95, which is a real treat).
Closed Mondays and open at 4 p.m. (3 on Sunday) Tuesday through Sunday. It’s a great place for a late snack, as they are open until 1 a.m. (12 midnight on Sunday). They are not open for lunch during the summer. Takeout is available. Telephone is 398-7600. Check out their website, which also lists daily specials, at www.ritrovo.com.