The number of restaurants on Providence’s Federal Hill has not changed very much in the last decade or two. But there is a resurgence on the Hill’s Restaurant Row these days that is noticeable. New places have started up, in spaces where restaurants had been and in a few spots where they had not.
Depending on what corner one stands on along Atwells Avenue or on Federal Street, DePasquale Square or America Street, the neighborhood flavor is not necessarily Italian. There is a diversity among the residents of the venerable tenements that reflects the changing face of Providence.
While, by a slim majority, the eateries along the row are Italian, next door there is just as likely to be a Middle Eastern sandwich shop, a Mexican restaurant or one of the ubiquitous hookah bars.
Many of the spots that serve food other than Italian are starting to become the older restaurants on the street, which says a lot about the proprietors’ business savvy as well as the quality of their food. Places such as Don Jose Tequilas and the Middle Eastern fine-dining spot Opa, which were mavericks back in the early days of the restaurant boom in Providence in the 1990’s, are still flourishing.
A review of one of the new places on Atwells begins, “the restaurant has an Italian-sounding name – Lucia’s. But look inside and the colorful sombreros on the wall signal that this is the city’s newest Mexican restaurant.”
The ownership of Lucia’s was quick to adopt one of the traditions of the Hill, that of including in names of menu items and just about anything having to do with the restaurant, the phrase, “on the Hill.”
Some of the newest places on the Hill have gone back to the roots of the neighborhood. These are family businesses with roots that go deep into the heart of Federal Hill.
Adesso on the Hill – there it is again – opened last March at 139 Acorn Street, right behind Tony’s Colonial. The restaurant is housed in a brand-new building constructed on the site of the Acorn Social Club, which was torn down in 2008. The current ownership has found success by bringing back the Italian side of the menu that made Adesso the talk of Providence foodies in the 1980s and ’90s.