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Olneyville New York System, a legendary eatery in Providence, is being recognized by the James Beard Foundation. The restaurant, which makes N.Y. system hot wieners, a distinctive Rhode Island twist on the hot dog, is one of five recipients of the 2014 America's Classics Award, which honors restaurants that "have timeless appeal and are beloved for the quality food that reflects the character of their community."
Connecticut folks are often confused by Rhode Island food, so when a crew from The Day visited the restaurant in 2011, Greg Stevens, the fourth-generation owner, immediately informed them, "Just so you know, they're NOT hot dogs." What are they? Here's how Katie Warchut described them after our visit:
"Hot weenahs, as the Rhode Islanders say (or weenies, or even gaggers) are smaller, so four of them fit in the cook's meaty hand. They're filled with flavorful veal and pork and come in a natural casing, an orange-y color that initially sketched me out. But, since I ordered them 'all the way' - smothered in mustard, a special meat sauce, onion and celery salt - it was easy to focus on deliciousness and just not look underneath."
Are they any good? Here's what Rick Koster had to say:
"I've eaten hot dogs - and wieners - in ballparks all over this country, and I must say the N.Y. System concept is sensational. I'd put them up against anything in that spectrum. ... I feel as though I could probably eat six or seven. Quite happily. ... If there's a comparison to be made, I'd say they are a distant cousin to the Coney Island-style hot dog, but the celery salt is a defining and magical ingredient."
To watch a video of our visit go to www.theday.com. For more information on the restaurant, go to olneyvillenewyorksystem.com.