While running errands around Providence one morning, a friend suggested breakfast at Louis Family Restaurant on Brooke Street. It might have been that I had not attended Brown, or had spent a great deal of time on the East Side, or watched it on Food Network, but on that morning I enthusiastically became a “new” customer!
The diner first opened 63 years ago under the management of Louis Gianfrancesco, then a 25-year-old Italian immigrant. Loui’s Diner is a mainstay to Brown’s faculty and students, as well as a treasured East Side neighbor in the community.
The diner’s décor and personality is a hodge-podge of retro-hippie-counterculture-non conformist sentiment. It pays homage to all almost anything that is, or was significant during the diner’s multigenerational operation.
Much of the food is scratch-made with attention to detail. We ordered the Drunk Johnny Omelette, (corned beef hash, onions and cheese) with a side of hash browns and rye toast. The massive omelette arrived piping hot and loaded with flavor. The rye bread was a standout because it was freshly baked and made with fennel seeds. Unconventional maybe, but a terrific addition just the same! The hash browns should always be ordered well done at Loui’s because that’s where the flavor comes from.
Upon recommendation, we ordered Loui’s impressive fruit bowl. It was all freshly cut to order and arranged in a such a meticulous manner that anyone could notice quality and presentation are priorities here.
The pumpkin pancakes might have been worth the trip alone. Seasonal food preparation is an excellent way of keeping standard menu items interesting. My only suggestion is that they should offer “real” maple syrup instead of the traditional high fructose corn syrup with caramel coloring. There might be a need for an upcharge, but many would be willing to pay for it. I think that pumpkin pancakes deserve the respect!
I read that Louis was “a man who gave generously and charged little for generations of Brown students and staff.” Louis died in August 1999, leaving the diner in the care of his six children who make sure the diner maintains the same standards its first founder created. Louis would be proud of the way in which the family is lovingly operating the business and preserving the traditions he held so dear. Rest in peace Mr. Giafrancesco (1922-1999), the restaurant is in excellent hands.
Louis Family Restaurant 286 Brook Street Providence, RI 02906 401-861-5225