Providence Restaurant Weeks brought us back to a place we haven’t visited in years: Pizzico.
We enjoyed a three-course luncheon that was superb, making us wonder why we don’t enjoy our big meal in early afternoon, like many seniors do.
Joyce and I had to wait a few minutes for a table, as the place was bustling with business people, Restaurant Week patrons and East Siders who appeared to be regulars. While service was a bit slow on the hot summer day and the air conditioning was taxed to the fullest with the large luncheon crowd, the wait-staff quickly replenished water glasses and brought warm, soft Italian bread made at Wayland Square bakery. Like all good Italian restaurants, there was a dish of olive oil for dipping and no butter. The accompanying foccacia bread is baked in-house.
We both chose the calamari fritte for appetizers, a good-size plate of hot, tender, golden fried squid with a hot pepper topping and delicious hot and tasty marina sauce for $8.99. (Prices quoted are luncheon prices.)
Joyce chose the clams zuppa ($14.99), a half dozen clams over angel hair pasta. She couldn’t remember having a better sauce, which was enhanced with shallots, rosemary and olive oil, and a slice of garlic bread to sop up every bit of the broth. The clams were a bit too chewy for me, so Joyce didn’t have to share.
Funghi con Vitello – Veal Scaloppini to us non-Italians – was heavenly at $15.99. Sautéed with wild mushrooms, garlic, fresh herbs and mustard brandy sauce, it had a completely different taste than the usual wine-based sauce. Served with roasted potatoes to help get the last of the sauce, it made for an exquisite meal.
When I saw the large, thick piece of veal, I was concerned about tenderness. Being used to having my veal pounded to death, I was apprehensive until my knife cut easily into the meat, and I enjoyed one tender piece of veal.
For the smaller appetites, Pizzico also serves a variety of panninis served on fresh baked foccacia with house-made potato chips. Vitello-veal scalopinni, mozzarella, roasted peppers, arugla and balsamic dressing for $12.99 is the one that caught my eye. Angus beef burgers, wraps and Tuscan grilled pizzas add to the luncheon menu.
There is always an entry that we want to return for. Mine is the Maryland style lump crab cakes insalata ($15.99) served over mixed greens with chipotle tartar and balsamic dressing. Joyce’s is everything on the menu. Joyce enjoyed a coconut gelato, while I finished my perfect meal with a melt-in-your-mouth tiramisu.
Pizzico is located at 762 Hope St., Providence. There is on-street parking. They are open Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. for lunch, and 4 p.m. to closing for dinner. Saturday and Sunday, they open at 5 p.m. for dinner. For reservations, call 421-4114 or check them online at firstname.lastname@example.org.