In The News: Gansett And Cheese

Here's a great review of a new neighborhood restaurant called Wine & Cheese in North Providence from Providence Journal Food Editor, Gail Ciampa. They proudly...

In The News: Gansett And Cheese

Here's a great review of a new neighborhood restaurant called Wine & Cheese in North Providence from Providence Journal Food Editor, Gail Ciampa. They proudly feature 'Gansett on tap and there's nothing better to wash down that pie.

The Providence Journal / Sandor Bodo

North Providence’s Wine & Cheese a welcome addition to neighborhood

NORTH PROVIDENCEWine & Cheese is casual dining at its neighborhood best and you don’t have to like either wine or cheese to enjoy it.

In fact, I started with a salad, a side of meatballs and a Narragansett draft beer. If I’d been out for a romantic dinner or a family meal, and not a dining out review, I could have stopped right there and been totally satisfied with that wonderful blend of flavors.

There’s nothing like the freshness of local beer, and the relative lightness of ’Gansett makes it a thirst quenching beginning.

A Greek salad gives the perfect complement of crunchy lettuce, cured, tart olives and creamy feta cheese. But that doesn’t even consider the homemade oil and vinegar dressing that is among my favorites in Rhode Island with its herb blend. I love not just the balance but also the texture as it clings to each piece of lettuce or slivered onion.

The pair of large meatballs, too, reveals a kitchen that knows how to proportion ground meat with herbs and bread crumbs to produce a savory but airy bite. Topped with their homemade tomato sauce, it’s the perfect vehicle for dipping the freshly baked bread.

You can’t help but like the price, too. The draft was $3.75, the Greek salad and the pair of large meatballs each $4.60; a deal in a lovely, comfortable space.

Wine & Cheese is just a few months old and the second venture for Nestor Xhupi, a co-owner of the popular Big Cheese Pizza & Pub in Cranston. Now with partner Leart Mezini he has opened Wine & Cheese at 1861 Smith St., North Providence, home of the former Villa Santini. Fans of Big Cheese will recognize the menu full of pizza, Italian specialties, sandwiches and calzones. The recipes go back to Tom Frank, who founded Big Cheese 30 years before Xhupi bought the Cranston pub in 1998. They are oldies and very goodies.

There are 16 calzones on the menu but consider that just a starting point. The menu is yours to mix and match. Every sandwich can be made into a calzone, which is what I did with the Chicken Parmigiana. The quality of all the ingredients is solid and the seasonings and herbs the perfect touch. The moist, breaded chicken tenders are wrapped with just enough provolone so as to not overwhelm the meat. It’s topped with that perfectly balanced tomato sauce with no acidic aftertaste.

I love their pizzas too, with the just-enough sauce, the mild and creamy Cheddar blend of cheese, the spicy pepperoni and four triangle corners (for the large), the wedge pieces we fight over in our house. The sausage is sliced, not loose, if that bothers you.

But it’s the homemade bread that makes all the calzones and pizza special. It’s just a wonderful recipe that makes every crispy bite special.

Those looking for more will find eggplant Parmigiana with nicely layered, thin slices of eggplant topped with provolone cheese and a just-right tomato sauce. Appetizers include a sautéed mushrooms and peppers combo or individual dishes. There are baked pasta dishes which are satisfying and well designed to balance the pasta with either meats, cheeses or vegetables.

The new space in North Providence is lovely and bathed in tones of red. There are two dining rooms, one with a fireplace and a bar with flat-screen TV. The atmosphere is perfect for families or dates. The wine list isn’t huge but includes 16 by the glass priced from $4.50 to $7.

North Providence has a nice addition to the neighborhood for both food and price.

Wine & Cheese, 1861 Smith St., North Providence, (401) 349-3446, Casual. Full takeout menu. Free parking lot. Wheelchair accessible. Highchairs. AE, D, MC, V. Open Tuesday -Thursday 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Pizzas $3.75 to $17.65; sandwiches $3.45 to $7.50; pasta $8.45 to $12.65. Full liquor license.Bill of fare

A dinner for two at Wine & Cheese might look like this:

2 glasses Chardonnay...$9.00
Greek salad...$4.60
Chicken Parmigiana calzone...$6.40
Large pepperoni and sausage pizza...$13.75
Total food and drink...$33.75
Total bill...$43.46

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