Fellini Pizzeria

Review by Sandi Cook –  Special contributor to Fork in the Rhode

Thanksgiving Pizza - Fellini Pizzeria

Thanksgiving Pizza – Fellini Pizzeria

Thanksgiving Pizza comes but once a year, and man is it worth the wait!  Every November my anticipation for this delicious slice of turkey day wonderment grows until the day before Thanksgiving arrives when I can get my special fix of this comfort food. This special pie has been on the menu for 10 years and is so popular that folks order their pies days in advance to be sure they can get their hands on one in time for Thanksgiving Eve dinner. Lines begin at lunch and get so long at times that the friendly staff provides a large thermos of hot chocolate and cups on a table outside to make the wait more comfortable. 

Fellini Specialty Pizzas

Fellini Specialty Pizzas

Although Fellini Pizzeria makes this special pie available only at Thanksgiving, they are also scoring it big with their over-sized thin crusted specialty pizzas such as the Kitchen Sink [ Penne pasta, garlic, parmesan, peppercorn, roasted red peppers, scallions, pepperoni & feta cheese], and the Turkey Club [ Smoked turkey breast w/ a creamy honey mustard sauce, topped w/ tomato, onion & bacon].  

So even with this year’s Nor’easter bearing down on Little Rhody, we made our way to Fellini’s to wait in line with all the other loyal Fellini Followers to get our slice of heaven. 

We arrived late in the afternoon and felt fortunate that the line was manageable. Surprisingly we were still able to order a pie, but shortly after we ordered, the line began to grow and they announced that only slices remained because whole pies were sold out for the rest of the day. Whew…. 

So what is Thanksgiving Pizza? It’s whole wheat, thin crusted pie layered with all the holiday fixings that Thanksgiving dinner is famous for. First they spread a generous layer of mozzarella cheese onto the hand thrown dough.  Next, they pipe just the right amount of mashed potato over the cheese. Then, chunks of oven-roasted turkey are spread onto the pie along with spoonfuls of stuffing, and topped with a generous drizzle of turkey gravy. Cranberry sauce is optional and provided once the pie is served.  

Our large pie arrived hot and hearty. The cranberry sauce slathered on the slices was a sweet compliment to the savory flavor of sage in the stuffing along with the salty smoothness of the turkey gravy and mashed potatoes.  The thin crust was perfectly crispy, with a great chew to it.  It held up quite well considering the weight of the toppings. Fellinis figured out the perfect proportion of toppings considering the slices reheated perfectly later that night.  

Fellini Pizzeria

Fellini Pizzeria

We asked if all the Thanksgiving Day toppings were scratch-made, but Fellinis graciously and humorously avoided answering our question by saying that it was a secret recipe.  Regardless, the unique pie is a total holiday winner and I recommend making Thanksgiving Pizza a yearly tradition in November and the rest of the menu a tradition during the rest of the year!

 

Fellini Pizzeria 166 Wickenden Street, Providence, RI 02903 401-751-6737

Providence Coal Fired Pizza

I’m not entirely convinced that just because you can put any topping on pizza, you necessarily should! Additionally, I remain contemplative on whether certain ingredient combinations balance more harmoniously when subject to the wrath of a coal-fired inferno. And finally, is the quality of pizza crust really so damn important?

Providence Coal Fired Pizza Signage

Providence Coal Fired Pizza Signage

Well, the owners at Providence Coal Fired Pizza clearly take these questions to heart. Utilizing an eco-friendly, custom-built oven that fires up at a face-scorching 900°F, their chefs can lock-in flavor complexities, while producing an envious crispy crust that maintains a terrific chew. Most of the cooks working the ovens have no eyebrows, but facial hair is overrated anyway.

Pumpkinhead

Shipyard’s Pumpkinhead Draft

Providence Coal Fired Pizza is a welcome addition to the downcity restaurant landscape because it maintains several very appealing qualities. The atmosphere is energetic and fun. The knowledgeable staff is welcoming, attentive and extremely proud of their entire operation. The menu price points are exceedingly reasonable for its location, and most importantly, the food is absolutely worth writing about!

Coal-Fired Wings

Coal-Fired Wings

Our party of four started the evening off with some drinks and the Coal-Fired Wings (sea salt, rosemary, and roasted onions). I spotted another table getting this starter and was immediately drawn to the fire roasted caramelized onions blanketing the wings as if it were sheltering them from the light. The wings were perfectly spiced and a bit smoky. The onions were mild, sweet and had just enough char to remind you where you were eating.

Rocket Pizza - Pancetta and Peppers

Rocket Pizza – Pancetta and Peppers

 

Our entrees included the sharing of two pizzas that seemed to speak to us. You could say that the pizzas chose us, but that’s neither here nor there.  The first was a Nightly Special which included rocket (arugula), pancetta and banana peppers. The second was the Broccoli Rabe (EVOO, sausage, ricotta and provolone cheeses).  The rocket was fresh and peppery, the rabe was not bitter, the ricotta cheese was creamy, and the sausage was scratch made.  Ring the bell, we have winners.

Broccoli Rabe - Sausage and Ricotta

Broccoli Rabe – Sausage and Ricotta

The desert menu was limited, but we were quick to order the oven-fired Fresh Berry Cobbler special, topped with crunchy sweet oats and a side of whip cream. Simple fresh ingredients that imparted a beautiful sauce under intense heat – made the desert a standout.

So, in response to my own initial questions; just because you can put any topping on pizza doesn’t mean you should, holds true.   Providence Coal Fired Pizza will harmoniously balance the combinations for you, and trusting them to do so might be the best decision you’ll make the entire evening.  And finally is the quality of pizza crust really so damn important? Perhaps you should stop by Providence Coal Fired Pizza and make the damn decision yourself!

 

Providence Coal Fired Pizza  385 Westminster Street Providence, RI 02903 401.454.7499

Pag’s Pizza

Pag's Pizza At age 15, I landed my very first job at the mall pizzeria in New Jersey.  The family was a lovable bunch of yellers, and I had come to the understanding that their relentless shouting in Italian was their way of accepting me (one would hope). I was paid $3.35 an hour to serve slices, calzones, sausage rolls and subs (translation – grinders!). In addition to sticking my arms in a scorching oven to scrape it every night, the owners taught me how to make great pizza. I learned to toss and stretch dough, and build “pies” on the paddle before painstakingly sliding them on to the oven stone. New York/Neapolitan style pizza is generally larger in diameter and has a thinner chewy crust – baked without a pan.  Also popular was the square-shaped slices with a thicker dough (much like focaccia bread) called Sicilian slices. This pan baked tomato pie was my absolute favorite because the rich crust was crisp on the bottom, soft and warm in the middle.

Pag's Pizza SlicesHere’s something thought-provoking, Rhode Island maintains more pizzerias than Dunkin Donuts has stores – and that’s saying something! What’s more interesting is that Rhode Island’s strong Italian American population justifies the variations in pizza preparation primarily based upon the region of Italy from which families immigrated. The Sicilian and tomato pies are extremely popular in Rhode Island, and one of the local restaurants worth spotlighting is Pag’s Pizza in West Warwick.

David and Gloria Pagliarini should be admired for an enviable business model. Their most important focus is making extraordinarily good pizza – first! The menu is as straightforward and fresh as the ingredients they use.  Large pizzas are made Sicilian style (square) and small pizzas are made with thinner crusts baked in a round pan. David does an excellent job in creating and properly baking pizzas. Additionally, the menu offers slices, salads, soups, grinders and several pasta dishes – all at extremely reasonable prices.

Pag's Spinach CalzoneAn absolute standout menu item is the freshly baked Calzones (which include spinach, olives, cheese and pepperoni (optional).  The quality of the baked breads/crusts using Pag’s Pizza fresh dough is worth the trip alone. Their dough, when used to make the larger/thicker pizzas maintains a slight yeast aroma  even after it’s been freshly baked, and that’s where bread magic lives!

Pag's Freshly Baked DessertsA consistently impressive attribute regarding Pag’s Pizza is that the restaurant is absolutely spotless from “front door to kitchen floor“. They could perform an emergency appendectomy if called upon to do so! Gloria tastefully decorates the restaurant, and frequently changes the furnishings as seasons dictate. The counter often features some freshly baked treats to sweeten up the desert part of your order.

The pizza landscape in Rhode Island is arguably divided into camps – thin & thick crusts, New York style, Chicago deep dish, wood grilled etc. We should be celebrating the diversity of our choices. Quite frankly, if you think your choice of pizza style is delicious – who’s to argue?

Pag's FlowersI am convinced that restaurants thrive when owners are dedicated to their products, their establishment and their customers. Pag’s Pizza is a shining example of all three, and I feel lucky to have them in my hood.

It’s been over 30 years since I left Villa Pizza and I still miss John and Maria. Although I don’t know what became of the family, I have very fond memories of that which I learned from them, and the pride in which they had for the products they created. Imagine that – pizza being responsible for a life lesson!

Pag’s Pizza, 289 Cowesett Avenue West Warwick, RI 02893 (401) 822-0690