You might not notice it, but within a rock’s throw of Thayer Street, you can enjoy modestly priced, traditional Italian fare. Tucked neatly off the corner of Thayer and Angell St. in Providence’s East Side, Coco Pazzo has quietly become a favorite among families, couples and students who call Providence home. At first it might seem overwhelming, but their menu is chockfull of classic dishes and familiar favorites. It’s versatile too, with apps (or tapas), salads and grilled pizzas. Coco Pazzo is an ideal place to grab a bite with friends/coworkers or impress your date with your expansive knowledge of fine cheeses and imported hams. Hey, do whatever it takes to succeed. Ha! Ok, moving on.
Last week we were invited to try out some of their signature dishes and each plate was handpicked by Executive Chef Ryan Keough. After hearing the news, I knew we were in for a treat. What’s neat about Coco Pazzo is that it sits directly above the English Cellar Alehouse and as a result, provides patrons the opportunity to order from their menu as well as a list of over 200 different brews. Pretty sweet deal right?
Burrata - Presented on a mini wooden pizza peel, it joins a laundry list of traditional Italian dishes and tapas on the menu. As soon as it landed on the table, I broke off a piece of the baseball sized mound of burrata (like any sane person would do). Burrata is simply put, a delicious combination of mozzarella and cream that has been added, creating a pouch-like center (think Cadbury Egg with a cream cheese center and a mozzarella outer shell). In other words, it’s just all types of good. Flanking the wonderous sphere of burrata were slices of grilled baguette, prosciutto and rep pepper strips.
Bruschetta - When it comes to classic Italian, it doesn’t get anymore classic than this. A popular item on the menu and for good reason. The balsamic glaze will leave you swiping every inch of that plate with your finger. Oh, and it’s only 5 bucks too.
Watermelon & Goat Cheese - Three perfectly fried goat cheese balls rest atop a bed of baby arugula and watermelon chunks. Arugula is one of my all time favorite greens as it has a sharper, peppery taste to it. Worked well with the strong flavor of the goat cheese. The honey glaze drizzle added the right amount of sweetness.
Beer Battered Fish & Chips (Ale House) - Ale battered and fried to a golden crisp. The coating, neither heavy nor greasy, blankets a flaky filet of codfish. Sweet potato fries were, well, sweet potato fries. I swear I can eat a pound of them sitting on the couch watching Beetlejuice (or any movie for that matter).
Coco Pazzo - Their signature grilled pizza is topped with mozzarella, burrata (it’s back!) and prosciutto di parma. The somewhat chewy crust was sort of a letdown. I’m a well done kind of guy and was anticipating a bite with a lot more crunch. Albeit the slightly doughy texture, all of the toppings were incredible and evenly distributed throughout the pizza.
Fettuccine D’Estate with Seared Scallops (Main Picture Above) - Holy smokes. The scallops were just downright awesome. The slight crust from the searing elevated these puppies to nirvana. Do not hesitate over picking this dish. Order it and sit back like you’ve been doing it your whole life.
Cannoli - Mascarpone and ricotta cheeses with faint hints of orange. Classic way to end the evening. Meant to be shared by two, but if you’re in a gluttonous mood, then by all means.
Torte - Rich. Decadent. Almost fudgy. Was THIS CLOSE to ordering a tall, cold glass of milk! Prepare for guilt to succumb from within when you realize how tasty it was and how much time you’ll need to spend on the eliptical in the morning.