Joanne’s Journey: A Taste of Italy at La Masseria

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I was craving some authentic Italian food.

Now, you might ask me, what do I mean by authentic? Well, growing up in an Italian-American family, we were used to eating mostly at home. When our family ventured out to eat, my mother and grandmother would always make sure we visited a restaurant with homemade-like Italian food. 

That means that the gravy (not sauce) would be made from fresh tomatoes and the macaroni would be cooked “al dente”, neither to be overdone or loaded with sugar.

Folks dining at La Masseria

It was a very rainy night when we journeyed to “La Masseria”. It’s located 225 Main Street in East Greenwich, which isn’t far away from Providence. (Then again, this is RI, so some may disagree.) Thankfully valet parking is available. That makes it easier to go there, because Main Street is always crowded–especially in summertime.

The rustic Italian decor of stone and wood makes it look like a restaurant in Tuscany. The bar area is not that big, but it is a popular spot for business folks and singles.

Lucky Lentils

We were seated in the first floor at a table for two in a crowded, but comfortable room. I could smell the aroma of Italian food as soon as I walked in the door. 

Yes, I can smell the familiar aroma of gravy and pasta when I enter a restaurant that is well known for their Italian dishes like “La Masseria”.

Our waiter, Eric, quickly brought us over a basket of fresh breadsticks, Italian bread and focaccia bread coupled with a small dish of sautéed lentils.

Lentils. Eat them on New Years Day and you’ll have good luck all year long–at least according to an old Italian Tradition. But who are we to go against it?

For those of you who do not know what lentils are, you are missing out on a delectable appetizer. Lentils are tiny beans used in Italy to make soup, or served as an appetizer sautéed in oil. This is common in Italy.

It was also always was common in my family growing up. One Italian custom in my family was that you had to have lentils on New Year’s Day, so you would have a prosperous year. So yes, we all learned to eat them every New Year’s Day when my Aunt Jean would go from house to house delivering them for good luck.

Excellent Entrees

The menu has a good selection of appetizers and entrees, and they have daily specials, also.  I started off with stuffed zucchini flowers, which were stuffed with ricotta cheese and Italian ham lightly fried in a crispy batter. A side dish of marinara sauce was added for dipping.

They were delicious and light.  I also ordered a Cabernet wine to go with my appetizer. Truthfully, I was enjoying the lentils and zucchini flowers so much that I had to make sure to save room for my entree.

Steak, Shoestring Potatoes, and Veal.

For main courses, we ordered the grilled rib eye steak, which was huge. It came with fresh shoestring potatoes. It was juicy and piping hot and needed no extra seasoning at all.

We also order a side of sautéed mushrooms (La Signorina mushrooms).

Marvelous Mushrooms

Now, if you’re Italian you will know the difference between these mushrooms and regular store bought mushrooms. As a child, I remember my Dad going mushrooming and picking these mushrooms off the side of the road. They grow in bunches in wooded areas and are a favorite with Italians.  You really have to know which mushrooms to pick because some can be poisonous,  so mushrooming is really a sport. My mother would sautée them in garlic and oil or put them in tomato gravy. The sautéed mushrooms we ordered were made just like my mother used to make.

Mushrooms, sauteed just the right way, like mom used to.

I also ordered the Veal Milanese, which is a thinly pounded piece of veal, lightly fried and topped by a mescaline salad with fresh tomatoes.  If you love veal cutlet as I do, you will enjoy this with just a squeeze of fresh lemon on top.  Both portions were very generous and truly authentic!

There’s always room for dessert and I could not pass up the chocolate tartufu with cherry sauce inside. Yummy!

Dessert is served!

I am a cappuccino lover, so of course I ordered a cappuccino (decaf) so I wouldn’t be up all night. The cappuccino was hot and frothy but did not have the sugar stick that usually accompanies a cappuccino in fine restaurants. Okay, after all I ate, I guess I could live without the added rock sugar stick.

Worth The Price

One of the best things about this restaurant is that the food came in a timely manner. The meal seemed to flow and the two hours we spent there flew by. The service was prompt and attentive. The Total price for the meal with one martini and one glass of wine was $148.00 without tip, so prices are not for the faint of heart.

Expensive, but worth it!

La Masseria Restaurant also has another location in New York City, near Broadway, which is famous. They also just opened up another restaurant in Palm Beach Gardens in Palm Beach, Florida.

So if you can’t make that journey to Italy, New York City or Palm Beach, you know you can journey to Main Street in East Greenwich, RI, where a taste of Italy awaits you! Buon apetito!

 

Joanne Giannini
Joanne Giannini is a former State Representative from Providence. A freelance journalist, consultant and writer, she has previously written commentary for The Providence journal, GolocalProv and WPRO radio. Contact her at Pt3270@yahoo.com
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