Americans who return from vacation in Italy come home
with a culinary crisis: Now that they've tasted
authentic Italian cooking, anything else will be a
disappointment. And once you've had the real thing,
Americanized substitutes just don't cut the mozzarella
Fear not, hungry seekers of authentic Italian
cuisine. Tucked away in East Providence is the Italian
Corner. They've made quite a name for themselves for the
fantastic sandwiches they serve on their own bread, but
there's more going on at the Corner.
We dropped into the little market/bakery on a recent
Saturday afternoon. Osvaldo greeted us with a few wedges
of homemade foccacia. It was simple and fresh. Taller
than a pizza and looking like a rustic disc pulled from
a village oven, the bread was amazingly light and
flecked with fresh tomato flavor on top.
Osvaldo is a world-class Italian chef who has hung up
his restaurant toque to bring authenticity to American
tables. He's still in the kitchen, of course, but now
he's preparing meals for you to take home. For a
reasonable price, Osvaldo and staff (many of whom are
family) provide authentic Italian masterpieces all week
long. The bread is fresh, every day. The pasta is
homemade. It is soft to the touch, cooks in mere
minutes, and has a taste that is impossible to replicate
with pasta from a box. They make their own sauces and
sausage as well.
We loaded up a few bags of his food to take home and
try out on our friends during a casual Sunday dinner
party. Everyone -- even the picky eaters -- cleaned
We started with some grilled Italian sausage and
other starters, such as the marinated eggplant and
marinated mushrooms. The sausage cooked up firm and
delicious on the grill -- not too fatty and not
overpowered with spices. The mushrooms, however, quickly
became the star of the first course. These seemingly
simple marinated mushrooms, served cold or at room
temperature, were tremendous. They were simply kissed
with vinegar, not swimming in it and presented a
refreshing change of pace from the mushrooms in jars of
oil found on some specialty shelves.
After passing around some wine and settling for a
bit, I served the next course -- homemade pasta with
Osvaldo's fresh pesto sauce. In America, we tend to
drown our pasta with sauce and then cover that with
copious amounts of dry, tasteless parmesan cheese from a
can. This is not the way. The pesto is a dressing for
the noodles, and one should not overshadow the other. On
top, a sprinkling of freshly grated Parmesan perfected
We sat in relative silence as we ate. It was that
good, and that simple. This pesto tasted of basil and
pine nuts (not oily and tart like some of the pesto in
supermarkets). Try the pesto at Italian Corner, and
you'll be hooked.
Many other courses followed. Another fresh pasta dish
with bolognese sauce. A homemade lasagna with no
ricotta. Chocolate fettucini in a Gorgonzola sauce.
(That's right. You read that correctly. Sound odd? It's
amazing. However, you have to love Gorgonzola to love
Osvaldo's Italian Corner is a treasure to this area
because it provides the authentic Italian foods we once only found
in the Little Italys of New York and Baltimore, and the
famous Italian markets in Boston.
Now, it's here.
The sandwiches are fantastic, the prepared foods will
make you a celebrity chef in your own kitchen, and the
imported meats and cheeses are the real deal. The shop
also carries imported gourmet food items as well as
espresso makers, professional pots and pans, and even
Italian sodas and sweets.
Before you make your weekly trip to the grocery
store, stop by the Italian Corner and see how it's
really done, taste some true ingredients.
It's authentic, and it's delicious.
The weekly Dining Review is rotated among restaurants
that advertise in the Food & Dining section.
10 Boyd Avenue, East Providence (next to Rumford
Open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Friday and
10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.