Macera’s

An exceptional Italian on the down-low
By CHRIS CONTI  |  March 26, 2008
Macera’s Soup & Sauce | 1500 Oaklawn Ave, Cranston | Tues-Sat, 11 Am-9 Pm | Major Credit Cards | Full Bar | Sidewalk-Level Access | 401.463.5303

Rhode Island’s restaurant scene is peppered with low-key, phenomenal Italian spots, particularly within the city of Cranston. One such hidden gem is Macera’s Soup & Sauce, tucked behind an innocuous strip mall along Oaklawn Avenue (outdated local directions may read: “In back of that little plaza next to Mustang Sally’s”). And as is the case with most longtime Italian joints with a loyal following, co-owner/chef David Macera hasn’t tinkered much with his menu in the past 15  years or so — with good reason.
 
The alluring aroma begins when pulling around back, as you might spot the man himself working the outdoor grill, prepping a vast assortment of fresh-grilled veggies for the night. The intimate dining room (including a great corner booth by the kitchen door) is always adorned in seasonal cheer, with knick-knacks aplenty, and an enticing fragrance that transports one back to grandma’s kitchen. 
 
Our trio fired away with some of the typical Rhody cravings: fried calamari, stuffies, and various takes on bruschetta, including a personal favorite, pepperoni bruschetta ($8.95). While most Italian kitchens lean on prosciutto and pancetta, Chef David opts for a serious bounty of (delicious yet sinfully salty) thick-cut pepperoni with a colorful sauté of broccoli, black olives, and sun-dried tomatoes, atop thick grilled Italian bread.
 
The piquancy provided a nice complement to the soft blackberry undertones provided by our bottle of Rock Rabbit Syrah ($20). The pair of stuffies ($3.95) had generous diced clam with a crisp oven-baked finish, but the talk of the table starting off here will always be the wonderfully crunchy, tender and delicious calamari ($7.95).
 
Served simply with hot pepper rings in garlic and oil, the deep-fried, yet light-as-air coating paired perfectly with the fresh squid rings, and the portion was generously sized for three. “One of the best around” is a blurb worth tossing here.

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