Providence Social is open once again, under new ownership and management. Joseph Panaro, who owns Nye Park Tavern with Patrick Ogiony, has taken over the reigns, while updating the interior and changing up the menu. This is good news for the Five Points neighborhood, which is becoming more of a well-rounded locale, with plenty of offerings ranging from coffee to yoga to wine. Now, Providence Social will add to the mix, by providing people with another quality place to go to drink, dine, and relax on a courtyard patio.
Panaro’s connection with Nye Park Tavern bodes well with the next chapter of Providence Social. Nye Park has been a reliable go-to for dinner, consistently serving up great food in an atmosphere that reminds me of dining in an old NYC tavern. Now, Panaro has brought similar style and sensibilities to Providence Social by stripping it down to the bones, thus creating an atmosphere that lets the drinks and the menu speak for themselves.
Last evening, Panaro invited a few people to test drive the menu, before opening to the public on Wednesday, starting at 4pm. Overall, I heard that people were very pleased with the look and feel of the offerings. I heard rave reviews about the clams casino, the lamb lollipops, and the stuffed banana peppers. I got a chance to sample the Philly cheesesteak, which, like every other city in the US, with the exception of Philadelphia, is much more of an upscale take on the fare – most eateries use provolone instead of the iconic version which is slathered with Cheese Whiz. This version was made with gouda and smoked cheddar cheese sauce.That said, the aged black angus steak was cooked to absolute perfection, and expertly seasoned, which, to me and my wife, was a good sign of things to come.
While chatting with Panaro, he told me that the thing that he was most excited about, per this new venture, was the seasoned staff that he was bringing along with him. It had come to the point at Nye Park Tavern when he realized that he had the makings for another successful restaurant – quality staff is one of the hardest elements to acquire and retain for any establishment. So he rolled his crew into place, from back of the house to front of the house, and is now set to open the doors. To his point, we felt as if the place was already firing on all cylinders – everyone was on-point, which was very unusual since they weren’t even officially open yet.
If you’re wondering why Panaro kept the name Providence Social, I’m pretty sure that one of the reasons is the amazing signage on the building. There is a brilliantly illuminated deco sign adorning the eastern side of the building, which would have been an absolute shame to dispose of. Typically, I’m not a fan of a new owner keeping the name of a business, unless there is some serious history behind the name. In this case, I believe that keeping the name, for the brilliant signage, was a good call. Also, the restaurant was named after the street where it is located – Rhode Island, thus Providence (as in Providence, Rhode Island) Social.
I’m also very happy that Providence Social is within walking distance of my house, because we’ve been looking for a new place for dinner and brunch. This is a great building with a ton of history – it was once the location of Romanello’s Roseland – No “Calamari for Cammilleri”– Only Bada Bing–BOOM! You might notice that the front window of the establishment still has what appears to be a bullet hole in it, which has been left in place on purpose. Hopefully this new infusion of classic Italian food (with some twists) will help to recreate (and pay respects) to this infamous corner restaurant that deserves a new lease on life.