Providence Coal Fired Pizza is a worthy addition to Westerly
When it comes to pizza establishments, Westerly is getting to be a pretty competitive town.
There already was the likes of Pizza Place, Vetrano's, Vittoria's, Casa Della Luce, and others before Longo Ristorante & Pizzeria set up shop. Now there's an even newer addition: Providence Coal Fired Pizza on Granite Street.
I'd been to the flagship Providence Coal Fired Pizza in Rhode Island's capital city many times prior to patronizing the Westerly location. And, given that the menus appeared virtually identical, I had some sense of what to expect. (There is also a third location in North Kingstown, R.I.)
The restaurant has done a nice job replicating the feel of the original location. No easy task, considering that spot is located in the historic Conrad Building in downtown Providence, and the Westerly location is next to a Dunkin' Donuts in what was once a Pizza Hut.
Vintage lighting has been added, as has a tin ceiling, a sleek wooden top bar, and a large coal fired pizza oven (duh). There's also an attractive brick wall painted white behind the bar, and the exterior has been done up in a cosmopolitan black and dark grey color scheme and facade that bears the restaurant's name.
Much like the original location, freely shaped pies come out on wooden boards with long indentations that keep your pizza from getting overly soggy.
In terms of appetizers, there are three that I recommend: the Mediterranean hummus platter ($7), the lentil and hummus salad (technically listed as an entree but a workable app for $11), and the Caesar salad ($8).
The Mediterranean hummus plate comes with chewy triangles of date and olive flavored coal-fired bread, which can be topped with a smooth homemade hummus, red pepper cumin marmalade, and pickled cucumbers.
The Caesar contains your standard Caesar ingredients: romaine lettuce, Caesar dressing, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. However, like other menu items that are not exactly unique to Providence Coal Fired Pizza, it stands out for the quality of its ingredients. The dressing also strikes a nice balance — not too runny, not too creamy.
The lentil and hummus salad resembles a mini mountain of mixed lettuce, roasted Portobello mushrooms, grape tomatoes, red onion, and cucumber, topped off with green lentils and dollops of goat cheese. It comes dressed with a red wine vinaigrette.
Along with several pizzas, appetizers present some worthy options for vegetarians and vegans (although anyone on a non-dairy diet will have to make special requests on some items).
On the pizza side of the menu, there's a wide range of offerings, from meatball ($19), pepperoni ($17), and margherita ($15) to the more dynamic broccoli rabe with extra virgin olive oil, sausage, ricotta, and provolone cheese ($17), "Eddy" with tomato, soppressata, jalapenos, mozzarella, and fontina cheese ($18), and BBQ pork with house pulled pork, roasted onions, plum tomatoes, Monterey Jack cheese, house BBQ sauce, and scallions ($19).
All come on a chewy crust baked to a tasty chariness in the coal fired oven.
One of my favorite pies is the clam pizza ($18), although I have to say I do need to be in the right mood for it. It's a white pizza topped with thinly sliced fingerling potatoes, roasted red onions, pancetta, local clams, rosemary, and Parmigiano Reggiano cheese. The ingredients are fresh and pair together beautifully, making for a creative and well-executed pie.
The Rocket ($18) is best described as sort of like a salad on a pizza, and this vegetarian option could make a good vegan pizza if ordered sans cheese. It's a margherita pizza with tomato, mozzarella and fresh basil, topped with a slightly lemony-dressed arugula, and Pecorino cheese.
Also up there on my list of favorites is the "Baby Bella" ($17). It comes with a flavorful and textural mix of crimini and oyster mushrooms, dollops of ricotta cheese, mozzarella, and a drizzling of truffle oil.
However, as I move closer and closer to the advanced age of 33, powerful flavors — truffle oil included — become more and more overwhelming to my aging palette, and I was a little overpowered by the more liberal application of truffle oil on my most recent trip.
Parking is ample, and service at Providence Coal Fired Pizza is prompt, friendly, and attentive.
Overall, it's a worthy new addition to the growing pizza capital that Westerly is becoming.
Providence Coal Fired Pizza
162 Granite St., Westerly
Food type: Pizza, salads
Service: Friendly, quick and accommodating
Hours: Monday-Thursday, 11:30 a.m.-10 p.m.; Friday, 11:30 a.m.-11 p.m.; Saturday, noon-11 p.m.; Sunday, noon-10 p.m.
Credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover
Handicapped access: Ramp from parking lot to entrance; dining area is navigable by wheelchair.
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