This past Saturday, my adventurous sister took me on a walking food tour of Federal Hill in Providence Rhode Island. Our guide Cindy Salvato is the real deal. The tour is called Savoring Federal Hill. It takes about 3 hours to complete. Those three hours include education, stories and samples. How could THAT be wrong?
It all started at De Pasquale Square, in the heart of Federal Hill. She warmly greeted us at Café Dolce Vita with coffee and wine biscuits. Cindy limits the tour to 14 people. Some people were back for another tour. That’s how good it is. Our tour started at Antonelli’s Poultry shop. It’s the only live poultry shop in Rhode Island. You can pick the bird you want and they will slaughter it for you. It’s not for the squeamish, but it’s very old school. I’ve heard family stories about this. You can buy roasting bones and feet for chicken stock. They did bring out a live quail and a partridge. They also sell eggs and other products.
Then we were off to Venda Ravioli on the Square. Cindy educated us about canned tomatoes and other foods. She explained about labeling of foods and certain certifications. We sampled a variety of olives and cheeses. I made a mental shopping list including braciole and Bolognese sauce. They had amazing raviolis including lobster. I forgot to buy olives. They offered different colored and sized olives. Next trip! They also had different counters with fresh meats, cold cuts, olives, and a café.
I was in such a food bliss, that I don’t remember the order of shops we visited, but I remember all of what they had to offer.
Scialo Brothers Bakery sent my sense of smell into a tizzy. The bakery had an apricot tart that called out to me. Carol Scialo brought us into the back for samples and the history of the bakeshop. We got to watch the original ovens blast on. It was amazing. So as to not embarrass yourself to the locals, the name is pronounced “shallow” like water.
Tony’s Colonial was a short distance down Atwells Ave. I bought a fabulous fig balsamic. In Italy, balsamic vinegar is considered a condiment. My kind of people! They also had many dried pastas and olive oils.
Across the street at Roma Gourmet we sampled some olive oil and the best salami and cheese I’ve ever had. I went back after the tour and did some shopping. The shop had many imported dried pastas. Cindy told us how the preferred method of cutting pasta is with brass plates. Brass plates give the pasta a rough texture allowing sauce to adhere to it better. She also explained that thick pasta was good with thick sauce, and thin sauce pairs with thin pasta.
Gasbarro’s Wines is a premium wine shop, specializing in Italian and California wines. I loved walking in the cooler, set at 55 degrees and smelling like fresh cut wood. We sampled some wine. Since it was our last stop, I bought some Limoncello and some moscato.
I’m sure I inadvertently omitted some other shops we visited. I was in such a food coma by the end of our tour. I did go home and cook for hours, dreaming about my next shopping trek to Federal Hill.
I highly recommend Cindy Salvato’s tour. She knows all the shop owners and peppers the tour with stories about Federal Hill Her food knowledge was inspirational. I went back and looked at her website after my tour. She is amazing!
So, book your tour with her. Federal Hill is very easy to get to. I had only been one other time, and walked past most of these shops. My next visit will be much more thorough. Here’s her website: Savoring Federal Hill.
Tell Cindy I said “hi”!