After getting off to a rocky start eating-wise my first week in Providence, RI, I was determined to make amends week two.
And right off the bat, I got off to another questionable start by having a prolonged car rental fiasco after my plane got in, which caused me to have to scramble to get to my worksite on time. Even though I was running late, I still needed something to eat, so it had to be quick and somewhere that I knew where it was already, in other words, no time for searching, just make a quick decision!
I ended up driving straight to a place that I had drove past during my week one wanderings called Spike & Lulu's. Spike & Lulu's is a local New England hot and hamburger chain; Spike's the cartoon bulldog mascot representing the hot dog side of the house, and Lulu is the mascot for the hamburger side.
I know, I know, I generally hate all chains as a rule, my belief that it's exactly this kind of egregious silliness that only corporate America can bring to the table to screw up what naturally would occur as a good thing all on its own. In this case, hot dogs and hamburgers. However, at Spike & Lulu's, the food was actually pretty good...
Spike & Lulu's – Cranston, RI
I am somewhat of a hot dog snob, OK! I'm actually a big damn snob on the topic of hot dogs! But the signage is what intrigued me the week before and is what got me want to go in. They claim to have 100% all beef steamed hot dogs. Being that I'm stuck on the East coast with these nasty NY System wieners getting fried up on greasy griddles, finding a place steaming the hot dog was a huge deal to me. They also have hand cut fries, which means they are so close to Chicago style I could scream!
The hot dog is delicious; if I didn't know any better, I'd almost say they're serving up a Vienna Beef skinless jumbo 6:1 frank. It's red, a little snappy, and it has a nice beef flavor with a solid spice balance. This is without a doubt going to be my go to place for hot dogs while I'm working in Providence this year.
Since I ended up going here twice this week I will just incorporate my second visits musing on the report as well. On visit #2, I ordered the Lulu hamburger and thought it was pretty good. Its unfortunate that burgers are only 1/3 lb burgers, which makes them feel sort of like sliders to me.
Nonetheless I enjoyed the burgers and the hot dogs. Spike & Lulu’s also has hand cut French fries, one of the most honorable things in the food business. The cut is a nice size and the crispy exterior and moist interior is near perfect, but they over-salt these babies to the point of making them un-enjoyable.
I’ll be back and I enjoyed the restaurant overall:
Apsara Asian Restaurant
Dangelo's is a local sandwich chain throughout New England, its claim to fame are its lobster rolls.
I wandered into the Johnston Dangelo’s for lunch, and of course went for the lobster roll and a cup of New England clam chowder.
A lobster roll is basically a 6” bread roll sliced lengthwise, filled with a lobster salad, which looks like a tuna or chicken salad type of filling, except in this case they use lobster meat. What parts of the crustacean they use to make this I have no idea! And perhaps it’s better that way.
As this was my first real lobster roll experience I had no benchmark by which to gage the sandwich, and since I’m a huge seafood aficionado, I liked it but did not think it over the top. The New England clam chowder on the other hand, I really liked.
Ask many Rhode Islanders where’s the best pizza in town? And it seems like about 50% of the folks I’ve asked here say: “Caserta’s, over on Federal Hill".
So I Googled it up and did my usual pre-flight checks as well, and everything I read seemed to overwhelmingly indicate that Castera’s is without a doubt one the top rated Rhode Island pizza’s, so I just knew had to go.
The place is plain, clean and very open on the inside; with a big screen TV entertains the pizza eating patrons and a few of the managers or something. You order at a walk up counter, get a number and then have a seat. The menu is basically just the pizza and a spinach pie that they call a “wimpy skippy” .
The pizza comes two sizes: a square pan large and a 12”round small. Castera’s offers six pitiful toppings, which are; tomato sauce (plain), cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, olives and anchovies. Since I don’t even count the first two as genuine toppings I say they only offer four! Since to me, sauce & cheese is the base of any pizza, then you add on from there!
I ordered a small tomato sauce, cheese & pepperoni pizza from one of the attitudinally challenged counter girls, and I think my pizza came out of the ovens the snippy same attitude, thinking it was better that it was in reality.
The sauce was terrible, as if right out of a can, it was overly acidic and after a few pieces of the pizza I had concerns that I would end up with heartburn. The low grade pepperoni was greasy grocer quality Hormel or something equivalent, and the pizza crust was alright, but nothing extraordinary. It reminded of a bad Chicago style pan pizza with less character.
If I could sum it up in four words, the headline would read: Caserta’s tanks big time
I ordered two calzones and one pizza strip. And what’s a pizza strip you ask? Its rectangular slice of bread like crust painted with pizza sauce. It has no cheese and is served at room temperature. Pretty much, I noticed that all the Italian bakeries in Providence seem to sell them.
The calzones were mostly lunchmeat calzones and since I bought two that gave me a third for free, not a bad deal.
I totally found no joy in tasting the pizza strip; it tasted like garlic bread with tomato sauce, minus the garlic and cheese, which would have made this work.
The calzones were nice, two were Italian lunchmeat calzones and one was a sausage & pepper. I liked the bread on all three; the greasy pepperoni overtook the two lunch meats calzones but once it was pulled out and disciplined the rest was fine. I really liked the sausage & pepper calzone, even if the sausage was a bit mild, it just went together nice.
The only thing that would have helped would have been if they had reheated the calzones in an oven to crisp up the crusts on the delicious bread exteriors of those calzones.
Experience: 5 – no sit down area
The Cuban revolution is a neat place with decent food. I loved the decor, little 12" B&W TV's playing a movie with subtitles from Cuba, massive portraits of a certain famous Cuban dictator and other revolutionaries. Exposed brick and stainless steel counter tops, very, very cool.
But to be frank, I only had time for a Cuban sandwich, rice & beans. The aptly named “Fidel” sandwich was really good, but the rice and beans were lousy.
But I will be back…
Yep, that’s right. After ordering I realized that I had barley skimmed the surface of this place, and in a few weeks I’ll be back with my regular camera to take more pictures, and then try some of the other neat looking menu offerings.
So until then… Viva revolution!