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Restaurant Review – Venda Ravioli

As beautiful as the HBS campus is, it is nice to get away once in awhile. Taking a weekend day trip to explore the New England area is the perfect way to enjoy this wonderful fall weather. As New England’s second-largest city, Providence, Rhode Island, has all the building blocks to make it an ideal day trip from Boston: reasonable travel time, beautiful foliage along the drive and of course, great dining options!

In fact, Providence boasts more restaurants per capita than any other major city in America so it is no wonder that one of the country’s most interesting gourmet food emporiums is located here. Federal Hill is Rhode Island’s own “Little Italy” and a walk down Atwells Avenue will reward you with authentic sights and sounds: shops selling boccie sets, yummy Italian pastries and red, white & green color themes at every turn. It is within this delicious environment that Venda Ravioli is situated.

Overlooking DePasquale Plaza in Federal Hill, Venda Ravioli is a bright and cheery gourmet Italian food store and caf‚. It is most famous for the more than 150 types of fresh and frozen pasta which it has been turning out for more than 40 years. If you can’t get to the store personally, take a look at their website and order some of their pastas for delivery. They arrive by next-day delivery and make whipping up a gourmet meal easy. Justifiably their most popular pasta, the lobster ravioli, features fresh whole lobster meat combined with pesto, ricotta cheese, bread crumbs and black pepper. Also recommended are their tri-color cheese tortellini (a color combination of red, white and green pasta nuggets filled with ricotta, pecorino romano and parmesan) and naturally given the store’s name, any of their jumbo raviolis such as spinach, basil or cheese.

However, the best way to experience Venda Ravioli is to drop in for a visit. You can spend hours wandering around and exploring the store. Huge deli cases dominate the middle of the store with their dazzling array of gourmet foods. One aisle offers a colorful selection of prepared Italian foods, 100 different kinds of cheese is laid down another aisle with freshly butchered meat behind you. Spin around and there is an amazing olive bar while ’round the corner, charcuterie, sausage and cured meats beckon to you. A low maintenance way to throw a delectable get-together back in Boston would be to grab a basket and fill it with some meats (for example, prosciutto sliced paper-thin, sweet and hot sopressata, Tuscan salami), marinated vegetables (stuffed artichokes, peppers), cracked Sicilian olives, Italian cheeses and some daily fresh-baked bread. Artfully arrange the spread back at home along with some bottles of Italian wine and you have got the makings of a fabulous night.

If all that shopping has made you hungry, don’t forget to reward yourself. Lunch is served at tables scattered around the store year-round and in their outdoor caf‚ from late spring through to early fall. The menu changes daily but always includes a mouthwatering selection of antipasto, signature salads and meat and pasta dishes such as their famous ravioli tossed in a tomato-basil sauce. Before you leave, do not forget to stop by their coffee bar. Choose from Italian sweets such as gelato, tiramisu, biscotti and cannoli and pair it with a perfect espresso for some fuel for the drive home.

Venda Ravioli
265 Atwells Ave.,
Providence, Rhode Island
(401) 421-9105

October 30, 2006
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