Federal Hill, Rhode Island, Little Italy, Piazza, Fountain Little Italy, Federal Hill, Acorn Federal Hill, Little Italy, Flags, park

 

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Rhode Island's Federal Hill neighborhood has been the area's "Little Italy" for well over a century. Admittedly, I never gave any of the states between New York and Massachussetts any respect. I can't tell you why- maybe it has something to do with the fact that they never get much press. Rhode Island is never on the tip of anyone's tongue. As for Connecticut, well- everyone from Brooklyn calls people from Connecticut "Connecticut Ettiquette." So, to say the least- I wasn't expecting anything earth shattering from Rhode Island.

Rhode Island's Little Italy amazed me at how robust it is. This isn't a Little Italy in its dying days (yes, we're talking about you, New York)- this is a Little Italy that is thriving. Italian specialty shops, boutiques, bakeries, and restaurants line Atwells Avenue as they would on Via Veneto in Rome. And, (I hope you're sitting down) I even heard Italian being spoken! A Little Italy, inhabited by Italians, frequented by Italians. What the hell is going on!?

Its also pretty. I don't mean to wax poetic, but Atwells Avenue is perhaps the nicest, and well kempt Little Italy I have ever seen. There are Italian flags flying everywhere, a park dedicated to Italian Americans, a welcoming acorn, and (again, please be seated) a Piazza, with a fountain. The piazza is reminiscent of Italy- studded with cafes and outdoor eateries and encompassing a rather large, and majestic fountain. As night approaches, the open space has live music, putting on a free performance for all diners and passersby.

I spent more time photographing the neighborhood than eating. But, that's not to say we didn't eat. We did, and we ate oh so well. The word out on the street is "Eat at Andino's" and, beofre you even think of viewing other appetizers, "order the fried calamari." I know- it sounds like the biggest cliche: "Go to Italian restaurant X and order the calamari" Let me guess, you want a cannoli for dessert, too?

But the tipster was right- dead right. The fried calamari was unlike any I had ever eaten. It tasted like it was deep fried in butter- and it was cooked together with moderately hot peppers. It is, hands down, the best I have ever eaten. Andino's provides classic Italian food- but it also punches up the menu with "new" Italian food. We both split a stuffed portobello mushroom and ordered the lobster ravioli. Everything was 5 stars - and extremely affordable.

I thoroughly enjoyed my stay on Atwells Avenue. It reminded me of why I chose to document all the Little Italies I could- to be surprised. And that's exactly what Rhode Island and its Little Italy were- a pleasant, wonderful surprise.

 

Federal Hill, Little Italy, Italian Flag, Italian