1. Avvio Ristorante, Cranston
Love, love, love the gnocchi at Garden City’s Avvio. The potato dumplings are served in a tomato cream sauce with house-made mozzarella. I’m also fond of spicy Penne All’Arrabbiata from the Newport Restaurant Group.
Avvio, 90 Hillside Rd., Garden City Center, Cranston, (401) 942-2900, avvioristorante.com. Open daily for lunch and dinner.
2. Massimo, Providence
Massimo on Federal Hill, sister restaurant of Pane e Vino, knows pasta. The classic to try is Fettucine alla Carbonara. The pasta is perfectly prepared, al dente, bathed in a creamy sauce of eggs and Parmesan cheese. A beautifully poached egg sits atop the lovely dish. Every bite is a sheer delight, with beautiful peas and pieces of guanciale, Italian cured pork.
Massimo, 134 Atwells Ave., Providence, (401) 273-0650, massimori.com. Open for lunch and dinner daily.
3. Simpatico, Jamestown
Simpatico has a magical setting. Here the food matches the atmosphere, especially the popular Bolognese. It features rigatoni pasta in a sauce rich with ground beef, veal, and hot and sweet sausage. It’s full of meaty deliciousness.
Simpatico, 13 Narragansett Ave., Jamestown, (401) 423-2000, simpaticojamestown.com. Serves dinner starting at 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday.
4. Oberlin, Providence
Oberlin made Bon Appetit’s list of the best new restaurants in America, and the magazine made mention of two terrific pasta dishes: Cavatelli with Pork Ragú and Spicy Breadcrumbs and Crispy Gnocchi with Littleneck Clams. I enjoyed homemade pasta there, too, lovely fazzoletti (rectangular ribbons or handkerchiefs) in a light pork ragu dotted with ricotta. The menu changes often. Try everything.
Oberlin, 186 Union St., Providence, (401) 588-8755, oberlinrestaurant.com. Opens at 5 p.m. Thursday through Monday.
5. Trattoria Zooma, Providence
Zooma offers all the popular pastas, from lasagna to penne alla vodka. I love their homemade gnocchi, which are soft pillows of perfection. Try them in a butternut squash and Fontina cream sauce topped with proscuitto and pistachios.
Trattoria Zooma, 245 Atwells Ave., Providence, (401) 383-2002, trattoriazoomari.com. Opens daily for lunch and dinner at 11:30 a.m.
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