Pizza paradise

By PHILIP EIL  |  September 27, 2011

There are even more options for Brown and RISD students. The East Side has two quiet, old-school neighborhood pizza joints in MINERVA'S, at Wayland Square, and HOPE STREET PIZZA. Wickenden Street — better known for its coffee beans — is bookended by two righteous pizza places. Head to FELLINI'S at the bottom of the hill, for wide, juicy slices laden with meats and vegetables; or to PIZZA PIE-ER, at the top of the hill for thinking-man's pies like the "Brimp," with shrimp, broccoli, blended cheese, and alfredo sauce on multigrain crust.

Thayer Street is College Hill's battle royale, with three joints within crust-slinging distance from each other. For years, ANTONIO'S has been reliably pumping out heavy-duty slices topped with everything from tortellini to tortilla chips. The place is a veritable pizza factory, with servers dancing around ovens and whirling between each other to feed the hordes that swarm the place late at night. If you like your pizza lighter, thinner, and crafted with pastry-chef precision, head across the street to NICE SLICE. Really, the answer to the Antonio's-Nice Slice conundrum depends on your mood. Antonio's has bright lights, mirrors, and big crowds. Nice Slice has wheat crusts, marble counters, and a Shepard Fairey mural of Angela Davis on the wall. Or, to put it in blunter terms: Nice Slice is pre-game pizza, Antonio's is post-game.

The latest challenger is TOLEDO TOLEDO, which gets points for the Middle Eastern influence in their shish-kabob chicken pizza cones. Yes, I said "pizza cones." This is college. You're supposed to experiment.


D.I.Y. PIZZA PIE

Unfortunately, the October 29 "Pizza Party" session of Johnson & Wales' "Chef's Choice" Recreational Cooking Classes is reserved for 8-12 year olds. So unless you're squeaky-voiced enough to sneak into that, you'll have to stick to grown-up options like "The Art of Charcuterie" or "Poaching and Steaming." But don't fret. There are still ways to make quality pizza in your own kitchen without resorting to a freeze-dried Frisbee from the supermarket.

Every one of the pies at Hope Street's PIZZA GOURMET comes in "Take & Bake" form: freshly-prepared, wrapped in plastic, and waiting for you to slide into your oven at home. You can even have them delivered. If that isn't homemade enough, borrow a copy of Cucina Simpatica: Robust Trattoria Cooking from the local library and get busy. The cookbook — written by the founders of Providence's renowned Al Forno restaurant, Johanne Killeen and George Germon — features a chapter dedicated to the legendary crunchy, yet chewy, crusts of the restaurant's grilled pies.

"If after 8 minutes the cheese has not melted and the topping is not bubbling," Cucina reads, "either you have been too cautious in your approach to the coals or you have used too much cheese and topping." Do NOT try this in your dorm room.

Speaking of Al Forno, a visit to the restaurant off Wickenden Street is a must for any sojourn in Providence. Their prices are beyond most student budgets, so you'll want to wait to hear those magic words that perk up every student's taste buds: Parents' Weekend.

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