Tazza – Where Artisan Coffee Meets Farm Fresh Ingredients

tazza 5 editedTazza opened 11 years ago as an Artisan Coffee Shop, but with the help of Chef Ben Lloyd, this restaurant is becoming known for more than just their espresso and fine teas. With a menu full of modern American cuisine combined with global influences, Chef Lloyd embraces local ingredients using an admirable farm-to-table approach. You might even recognize some of Rhode Island’s finest farms mentioned on the menu such as Blackbird Farm Steak and Pat’s Pastured Pork. Chef Lloyd breaks down every part of the animal, utilizing each cut and he even cures the meat in-house. At Tazza, it’s all about keeping it fresh and local in order to create delicious food using top quality ingredients.

Located on Westminster Street in Providence, you might drive by without noticing the small, subtle sign on the building. Despite the discreet setting, the interior is a chic modern space. Stylish Chandeliers decorate a dining room filled with wood communal tables and industrial accents. The atmosphere is trendy yet relaxing which is perfect for all occasions. Whether your are looking for a table for two or just want to grab a small bite at the bar, Tazza offers both options depending on your appetite. We tasted a variety of dishes across both the regular dinner menu and small plates menu…so let’s just say our appetite was on the bigger side. :)

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Little Risotto with Littleneck Clams, Parmigiano, and Gremolata. Paired with Chateau Le Perriere Bordeaux

The risotto was creamy, smooth, and just the right consistency. It was topped with Littlenecks that were removed from the shell and dressed in a Gremolata which provided some nice hints of lemon to complement the clams. Many times, risottos can be hit or miss, but we enjoyed Tazza’s rendition which was a great start to our meal.

The “Nama/Nessuru” (translated to Raw/Heat) turned out to be one of our favorite dishes of the night, not only for the taste, but also for the interactive experience. First, we were given some bad ass chopsticks (pictured in the upper right), Next, we were served a dish with a blazing hot rock to cook our thin cuts of Ahi Tuna and Blackbird Farm beef. After a quick sear, I dipped it in the Yuzu Ponzu sauce for the perfect bite. I think more restaurants should adopt the Nama/Nessuru concept because it’s a unique and fun dining experience. Until then, it’s just another reason to visit Tazza!

Oh yes, and let’s not forget my new favorite beer. This dish was paired with a Belgian Tripel called Abbaye du Val-dieu. It has a 9% ABV and is deceivingly drinkable and smooth. With hints of fruit and honey, it is crisp and refreshing. Now if I can just find myself a 6-pack somewhere…

Grilled Baby Octopus with Smoked Hearts of Palm, Smoked Shishito Peppers,  Fried Capers, and Rouille. Paired with Gerard Metz Pinot Blanc

Grilled Baby Octopus with Smoked Hearts of Palm, Smoked Shishito Peppers, Fried Capers, and Rouille. Paired with Gerard Metz Pinot Blanc

A creative twist on more traditional calamari appetizers, the baby octopus was served in it’s unadulterated form, rather than battered and deep-fried. Every element was nicely charred. It was like smokey ambrosia. The chili and garlic based Roille also provided a nice, spicy kick.

We also tried the Chestnut and Fennel Ravioli with Nantucket Bay Scallops and Vanilla Vichyssoise Sauce (shown in main picture on top of page)This dish has yet to be officially added to the regular menu but I informed my server that they need to roll this out ASAP. It’s an innovative interpretation of Winter flavors not done in a stereotypical way. The ravioli was nutty and sweet and brought out the natural flavors of the Bay Scallops. I’m looking forward to seeing this dish become a permanent fixture on the seasonal menu!

We were served a magnificent trio of charcuterie which was all made in-house by Chef Lloyd. A combination of Coppa, Lardo, and Bresaola came together to create the Holy Trinity of cured meat. My personal favorite was the Lardo which was like pork transformed into buttery goodness and spread on a crostini. Accompanied by hand ground mustard, pickles, and olives, it was an irresistible spread.

For some added bonus, we tried Chef Lloyd’s interpretation of Bacon & Eggs with house-made pancetta and soft-boiled eggs. We also enjoyed the Braised Short Rib with Hoisin sauce and crispy Kale. It was reminiscent of beef teryaki with an elegant twist.

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Seared Duck Breast over Leek and Kohlrabi Gratin with Kumquat Glaze, Cornbread Stuffed Leg of Duck, and Candied Yams. Served with Lauca Pinot Noir.

The duck was served two ways but came together to create one deliciously cohesive dish. The citrus based Kumquat glaze tasted like an updated version of Duck l’Orange. Think of Thanksgiving Dinner meets Fine Dining with Candied Yams and Cornbread Stuffed Leg of Duck. Who doesn’t love that?!

For our other entree, we tried the Lamb Loin with a Tomato, Chevre and Zucchini tart, Grain Mustard Glaze and Sautéed Spinach. It was more straightforward than some of the other dishes we tried, but in a good way. Both tender and juicy, the Lamb was the star of this dish. The Grain Mustard Glaze provided the perfect amount of flavor without overpowering the Lamb. Fun food fact about me…I am actually a huge fan of mustard. I have about 8-10 different kinds in my pantry at a given time. So needless to say, I was sold on this dish!

For dessert, we ordered the White Chocolate and Coconut Mousse topped with bits of Chamomile Meringue and Fresh Berries, The mousse was fluffy and creamy and the meringue bits provided textural contrast. Even with a full stomach, there’s always room for this light and refreshing dessert. And let’s not forget the Cappuccino. It was strong and robust, yet incredibly smooth.

Last but not least, who can resist Apple Pie with Toasted Papita Seeds, Maple Apple Ginger Butter, and House made Cinnamon Ice Cream. Apple Pie is one of my favorite desserts year round, but I especially enjoyed all the Fall flavors here. And how can you go wrong with house made Cinnamon Ice Cream? I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again…all desserts should be topped with ice cream. That automatically scores points in my book!

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We were very impressed by Tazza and everything they had to offer. It’s evident the amount of time, thought, and preparation that Chef Ben Lloyd puts into every dish. From sourcing local ingredients from farms across Rhode Island to his masterful charcuterie, Tazza is upping the ante in Providence. Whether you are looking to grab coffee and pastries on-the-go, or want to order dinner and drinks with friends, Tazza is like the best of both worlds. Oh and by the way, I heard their brunch is pretty awesome too. Looking forward to checking it out soon!

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