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Our first year at the Brown Street Park Halloween Parade.

Our first year at the Brown Street Park Halloween Parade.

I grew up in New York City, which meant that on Halloween, I put on a costume and trick-or-treated in my apartment building, which as I recall was a quick run through a few neighbors in brightly lit and well-heated hallways.

But in the third grade, I went to a friend’s new house on Long Island for Halloween. And that has always felt like my first real Halloween–crunching on autumn leaves in the dark, shivering in costume, and skipping from house to house to gather more candy than even I can eat.

The first year that we moved to Providence, our neighbors mentioned that there was a Halloween event at Brown Street Park, so we decided to go. Of course, we had no idea that it included free games and treats for the kids and a costume parade throughout the East Side led by Providence’s own What Cheer? Brigade. Needless to say, it was a hit, and we’ve been back every year.

This year will mark the 8th Annual Halloween Celebration and Parade at Brown Street Park, which will take place on Friday, October 31 from 4 pm-5:30 pm. For more information, visit www.friendsofbrownstreetpark.org.

Hot wieners

The star of the show.

Guest post by Allan Miller

“Sometimes a hot dog is just a hot dog.” Fateful, if slightly existential, and somewhat paraphrased, words from Sigmund Freud. But apparently Freud never had the occasion to visit Olneyville New York System in Providence, because sometimes a hot dog is not just a hot dog, but is instead an Olneyville New York System hot wiener.

Ambiance

Don’t go for the atmosphere.

You won’t want to visit for the faintly greasy-spoon ambiance. You won’t want to visit for the diner-like menu. No, you’ll be going for the same thing that lured me there three times in one week during my short stay in Providence: these are quite frankly the best hot dogs that I’ve ever had anywhere in the world. And I’ve had a lot of hot dogs.

But don’t call them hot dogs. Follow the lead of the friendly and boisterous staff and call them by their true name: hot wieners. Freud would be proud that his name and the name of these heavenly delights share the same Germanic roots.

Here’s your quick tour guide to Olneyville. Get there about 12:30 AM, when life is just starting for the place. Order two hot wieners “all the way” (with meat sauce, grilled onions, mustard, and celery salt), a coffee milk, and a plate of fries. The coffee milk is just a giant glass of milk (take your Lactaid on the way there) with a tinge of coffee flavoring, and serves as an unexpected and delightful complement to the main course. The fries are nothing to write blogs about, but are pretty good and serve as a nice side dish.

Olneyville New York System is something you don’t want to miss if you are in Providence. It’s definitely worth breaking your low-carb diet, as it did mine. See you there in the wee hours.

Olneyville New York System
18 Plainfield Street
Providence, RI
http://olneyvillenewyorksystem.com/

Thin crust, the right ratio of tomato to cheese -- it looks like a New York pizza.

Thin crust, the right ratio of tomato to cheese — it looks like a New York pizza.

When a friend who grew up in Long Island posted on Facebook that she discovered the “same pizza [she] ate as a little girl,” I knew where we’d be eating out next.

Of course, nothing can ever beat Mario’s Restaurant for me, but there are plenty of New York pizzas that I still love when I’m back in New York City — Lombardi’s, Patsy’s, and Joe’s, to name a few. But since we moved to Providence, I have searched to no avail for an authentic New York pizza. Well, finally, it has arrived.

Last night, at The Pepperoni Grill, we ordered two large pizzas — a pepperoni and a plain. I was impressed with its thin crust, its fresh tomato taste and ‘right’ amount of cheese — this is the New York pizza I remember. The restaurant itself is nothing fancy — but that’s exactly the appropriate ambiance for an authentic NY pizza, in my opinion.

The restaurant has opened so recently that they don’t yet have menus or a credit card processing machine, and they’re not even listed yet on Yelp. They expect to be have their full menu (with salads and pasta dishes) at the end of July. We met the owner, who is a New York transplant who has decided to make a go of it in Pawtucket, Rhode Island. He ships his tomatoes from Brooklyn–he says he can’t find anything comparable locally. And he said he plans on having several salads with fresh mozzarella. And as if it couldn’t get any better–they deliver within a three-mile radius, which just barely makes it to our house in Providence.

They also sell them by the slice.

They also sell them by the slice.

The Pepperoni Grill
287 Pawtucket Avenue
Pawtucket, RI
http://thepepperonigrillri.com/

It starts out as a bus...

It starts out as a bus…

...and turns into a boat.

…and turns into a boat.

For a year, I lived directly across the street from one of the boarding locations for the Boston Duck Tours. I lost count of how many times tourists waved and quacked at me.

But that fact made me no less excited when we discovered one of the amphibious WWII vehicles boarding passengers at the Roger Williams Park Zoo.

The vehicle tours around the scenic drive of the park, then dives into Cunliff Lake for a boat ride. And they let both my daughters take turns driving the boat, which most certainly never happened in Boston.

Roger Williams Duck Boat Tours
https://www.providenceri.com/parks-and-rec/boating

 

Summer = ice cream

Summer = ice cream

It has long been no mystery to my friends that any day that includes both swimming and ice cream is a ’10’ in my assessment. Maybe that’s why The Sweet Spot in Narragansett remains one of my favorite ice cream shops in the state — I don’t think I have ever been there without having first spent the day swimming at the beach. Although I usually come from one of the many beaches within a short driving distance, Sweet Spot happens to be located directly on the water, in front of Salty Brine State Beach, so close that it may even be possible to be swimming while eating ice cream.

They have the usual flavors — vanilla, chocolate, strawberry — and all are homemade, but I usually go for their Black Raspberry Chip (yogurt or ice cream) or Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough or, my favorite, Coconut Chip.

The Sweet Spot
256 Great Island Rd.
Narragansett, RI

Ken’s Ramen

Ken's Ramen will cheer you up.

Who says you can’t eat a steaming hot bowl of ramen in the summer?

Many of us think of ramen as something you buy in convenience stores and eat in large quantities as a college student. But you’ve got to figure that something that can be tasty under those circumstances has to be quite stellar when there’s actually some skill and fresh ingredients put into it.

It took us awhile to get to the recently opened and much anticipated Ken’s Ramen in Downcity. There was a long line, or we couldn’t find parking. One time, our three-year-old refused to stay because she thought the music was too loud. So finally, on a weeknight date night, Geoff and I made it over to Ken’s Ramen. I opted for the what they call “the soupless ramen” or Tan-Tan Mazmen, a spicy sesame purée mixed into their special ramen topped with bamboo shoots, kikurage mushrooms, nori and scallions. Geoff opted for the more traditional Paitan Ramen, a chicken broth simmered for over 30 hours, also featuring ramen, bamboo shoots, kikurage mushrooms, nori and scallions. Don’t forget to order some of their homemade pork buns (Cha-Siu Pork Belly).

And don’t let anyone convince you that ramen is not a summer food. In Singapore, everyone eats it all year long, so I don’t see why we can’t too…

Ken’s Ramen
69 Washington Street
Providence, RI
www.kenramenpvd.com

Bucket Brewery's Thirteenth Original Maple Stout combines a complex malt base, a healthy dose of maple syrup and an unusual blend of hops.

Bucket Brewery’s Thirteenth Original Maple Stout combines a complex malt base, a healthy dose of maple syrup and an unusual blend of hops.

On our weekly trips to the Pawtucket Wintertime Farmers’ Market, we often stop by Bucket Brewery to pick up a “growler,” which is a 64-ounce sample of one of their beers. There’s no storefront, rather you walk right into their facility where they brew and bottle all their beers. If you show up on a Saturday between 11 am and 5 pm, you can do a tasting ($2) or take a tour ($10).

They also host Sound Check events on the first and third Fridays of the month with free admission and music, and an optional ‘generous’ tasting for $10. On Saturday April 19, Bucket Brewery will also be at the Pawtucket Farmers’ Market to introduce a special orange-cranberry beer made with local farm ingredients. And if you’re the athletic type (or want to become the athletic type), you can join them for Team Bucket, their running team for the Providence Craft Brew 5K.

And even when you’re not in Pawtucket, you can find their beers throughout Rhode Island at local bars (e.g. Aidan’s Pub, Ivy Tavern, Wild Colonial Tavern, etc.), restaurants (e.g. Chez Pascal, Farmstead, Figidini, Flatbread Company, Garden Grille), and liquor stores (e.g. Bottles).

Bucket Brewery
545 Pawtucket Ave.
Pawtucket, RI
http://bucketbrewery.com

See a complete list of the bars, restaurants and liquor stores that offer Bucket beers at http://bucketbrewery.com/whos-serving-bucket-beer/pg/1/.

Also mentioned in this post:

Aidan’s Pub
5 John Street
Bristol RI
http://aidanspub.com

Bottles
141 Pitman Street
Providence RI
www.bottlesfinewine.com

Ivy Tavern
758 Hope Street
Providence RI
www.ivytavernri.com

Wild Colonial Tavern
1250 Water Street
Providence RI
http://wildcolonial.com

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