Cranston, Rhode Island, there is a restaurant called Uncle Tony’s
Pizza & Pasta.
go looking for it.
that isn’t really fair.
not saying that because it’s not there. It is. Been there for
decades. Seems to do good business at that location. It’s a traditional
place for parties and celebrations. Lots of families have eaten
there now for generations. In Rhode Island, there are even other
Uncle Tony’s restaurants in Johnston and East Providence. If you
want, please, go ahead and look for it.
offered, please allow me to clarify my statement a bit.
head out to Uncle Tony’s having read this from me as some type
of endorsement or enthusiastic recommendation. It’s a fine restaurant.
Prices are good. Food is ok. Can’t think of time when anyone on
the staff was anything less than friendly. It’s nice. It’s… well…
is not awesome… stupendous… or any other adjective suggesting
the greatest pizza and pasta available. It isn’t aesthetically
beautiful or vintage or classically elegant. It isn’t the best
of anything in any way.
fine. And there isn’t much wrong with accomplishing fine consistently.
there is a funny side note that goes along with the pizza at Uncle
Tony’s. And it is based upon this fact… which is a fact… if you
find yourself craving their pizza, there is absolutely nothing
else that will come close to satisfying that craving. It has to
be pizza from Uncle Tony’s.
have a very unique and identifiable sauce. Maybe it’s tomatoes.
Maybe parsley or oregano or basil or salt or pepper or sugar,
or more of some or less of others, or maybe none of the above,
or perhaps a dash of something else. There is nothing like it.
when you find yourself thinking about their pizza, and the flavor
of that sauce, and you really want some… yes… at that moment you
may begin ushering in those previously dismissed adjectives of
delight and satisfaction that express a special experience.
suppose, in many ways, that does in fact become a recommendation
of sorts. After all, I just told you that Uncle Tony’s offers
up a pizza that cannot be replicated at any other establishment.
Sounds like a solid referral.
though… no. Probably not.
can’t stand behind it and guarantee you a good experience.
may rest comfortably at this point making the assumption that
I am not a frequent visitor, nor their target customer. I wish
them well. I’m happy they’re in business. I’ll likely head back
again at some point. But not because I’m looking for great pizza…
it will be for no other reason than I’m looking for that pizza.
idea… fulfilling cravings… is what has my mind wandering a bit
today. Cravings come in all shapes and sizes and moments. And
right now we’re approaching a funny run of holidays when it comes
to food, ranging from the big things of spring and Easter, to
much more specific traditions and celebrations.
our current home, I have absolutely no idea where to go when St.
Joseph’s Day comes around and the conversation turns to finding
zeppolas worthy of passionate thoughts and the highest praise.
fair number of places across the country claim to offer up these
culinary delights. Most fail. Honestly, many should be fined for
fraudulent advertising. My friends around here offered three responses…
in order of frequency…
“What’s a zeppola?”
“Where would you look for a zeppola?”
“I think fill-in-the-blank is a bakery that might have some
far… a few years… no zeppolas. At least none that look worthy
of purchase. (I will continue looking.)
not just zeppolas though. There’s no Chinese food near us either.
Much as I nodded toward Uncle Tony’s earlier, I point in the direction
of P.F. Chang’s now. If you are looking for a nice meal with flairs
of a Chinese-food-influenced menu, then setting out in search
of an entrance with a marble horse is certainly a way to go. Food
is usually good. Service usually attentive and kind. I’ve enjoyed
my visits to several of their restaurants in multiple states.
I would go back again (and again) in the future. However, if you
are saying P.F. Chang’s offers by far and away the best Chinese
food around you, then… I’m sorry. I wish we could fix that for
it’s not like states such as Rhode Island, or even cities like
Boston and New York, are perfect culinary hosts providing leadership
and excellence in all areas just because they have amazing zeppolas
and tremendous Chinese food. I’ve had Cuban food in Florida… eaten
meals and items with southwestern inspiration in Arizona, Nevada
and California… and I will readily admit that in many ways, the
northeast United States is severely lacking.
when you find yourself looking for something, a lot of it can
be traced back to the place (and even places) you call home. For
that’s the place where experiences and tastes and preferences
and expectations begin.
few years ago, I was working on a collection of travel material
that eventually led to three books… the Strange
and Unexpected efforts covering Florida,
California, and Las Vegas. While asking a question about travel,
Mike came up with a great answer: “Find the ethnicity of the region,
and the food that follows is usually top rate.”
like that thought. There is a lot of truth in it. There is some
great travel advice in it. But I think there’s also a bit more
that could be added, often involving the options available from
local sources. Seafood is pretty much without exception going
to be better in coastal villages than landlocked places hundreds
of miles from the ocean, where it is abundant and fresh and right
from the water… expand that concept wherever you may be to fruit
and vegetables and so much more.
when looking toward that community you love… the food is going
to be a part of making it home. It might be the gravy your grandmother
made from scratch for the family Sunday dinner… it could be the
rolls and pastries from the bakery down the street… perhaps it’s
the wings, chowder, and assorted specialties created only a short
drive from your front door.
an assortment of people from Seattle, Anchorage, Sedona, Tulsa,
Savannah, and Buffalo, and then start a survey. The favorite foods…
the staple dishes… the must-do places… the cravings… they will
be beyond what any description of different can truly capture.
but when you absolutely have to have it… then nothing else will
few weeks ago, Terry and I were visiting my parents. The talk
turned to a quick lunch, and specifically pizza. This led us down
a path we have all journeyed: “You know what I haven’t had in
a long time?” Which resulted in a craving for a meatball and mushroom
pizza from Uncle Tony’s. Simple as that.
are good that I will visit my parents dozens of times or more
in the next few years and I may not bring up Uncle Tony’s on any
of those trips. We stopped in Rhode Island for a few days, I mentioned
the pizza and we ordered, and the craving was satisfied (and will
remain so for quite some time).
does anyone know where I can find some decent Chinese food in
upstate New York?