Coco Pazzo / English Cellar Alehouse – Providence, RI
Coco Pazzo / English Cellar Alehouse / 165 Angell Street / Providence, RI 02906 / 401-454-3434
Coco Pazzo is slang for ”crazy crazy” (Crazy in Italian and Crazy in French) but I think it should be slang for ”brilliant brilliant” or, better yet, ”Oh my God, this brilliant restaurant has some of the best food I have ever eaten!” Yeah, that’s it. THAT is what it should stand for.
Let’s get a couple of things straight. I am Italian AND I grew up on Federal Hill (Providence, Rhode Island’s Italian neighborhood, a.k.a. “the hill”).
I am use to Sunday dinner’s with “the family.” I am use to my dad and brother cooking passed down recipes from my great grandmother and, believe me when I tell you, I know sauce (excuse me, “gravy”).
I am almost impossible to impress when it comes to Italian food. With that said, Coco Pazzo not only impressed me, it has turned me into an obsessed fan!
Since dining there there the other night with my partner, Jennifer, I have not been able to get their Penne Vodka out of my head. THE SAUCE! Oh. My. That sauce. Not to mention their pizza made in their beautiful Mugnauni oven from Italy. Oh, and how about their basket of “Frittola” (basket of mini doughboys, stuffed with Italian cold cuts) and Fried Calamari with banana peppers, soy sauce and garlic butter. Is your mouth watering yet?
Let’s start from the beginning, shall we?
Coco Pazzo is the latest creation from owner, Umberto Sorbo. Opened in March 2012, this sexy, stylish bistro is located upstairs from English Cellar Alehouse, Rhode Island’s premier pub with over 200 of the world’s finest beer.
This duel concept works brilliantly. Patrons can enjoy either menu regardless of where they choose to dine. You can start your evening out with dinner upstairs at Coco Pazzo and work your way down to English Cellar Alehouse for some beer and pool! And, if the weather, allows, you can also dine Al Fresco and take in the views of nearby Thayer Street.
Jen and I were greeted by assistant general manager, Phil Gendreau when we arrived. I felt like I knew Phil for years as he was super laid back, friendly and beaming with pride over Coco Pazzo and English Cellar Alehouse. He explained the renovation process and informed us of a new menu coming soon that will introduce some new dishes, along with old favorites.
The first thing that struck me was how stunning Coco Pazzo is. Their gorgeous huge bar is aglow in gold lighting.
It works perfectly with the butcher block community table, copper ceiling, black & white floor tiles and mirrors reflecting some of the best quotes I have seen:
“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.” ~ Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright.
I found the quotes spread throughout the restaurant extremely fitting as there is a poetic beauty to Coco Pazzo. All of the elements of this restaurant come together like the words to a beautiful quote or poem.
Everything. Like the hand crafted, wroth iron staircase that leads downstairs to English Cellar Alehouse or the way the music switched from soft jazz to Coldplay.
The dance between Coco Pazzo and English Cellar works perfectly.
But how about the food? Orgasmic. Yes, I just said that.
To start out Jennifer ordered their ”Strazzel Razzel” Martini made with Stoli, Strasberi, Stoli, Rasberry, Peach Schnapps, Fragoli, and a splash of Sprite.
From the smile on her face it was clear to see the Strazzel Razzel dazzled her!
For an appetizer we had the basket of “Frittola” (basket of mini doughboys, stuffed with Italian cold cuts) and Fried Calamari with banana peppers, soy sauce and garlic butter.
The frittola was absolutely delicious. Mini calzones, if you will, baked in Coco Pazzo’s delicious dough with pieces of Salami and cheese. The dough was crunchy and not at all greasy.
Jennifer, the seafood eater of the duo, raved about the fried calamari saying it was the best she had ever had. It was crunchy and flavorful. Not the usual “chewy / rubbery” texture that I am told often plagues calamari.
The combination of banana peppers with soy sauce and garlic butter made for a savory flavor unlike anything she’s ever experienced.
There comes a moment when you are at a restaurant when you just know that every bite of what you ordered is going to be amazing, by my second frittola and Jen’s second mouthful of calamari, we gave each other “THE LOOK”….. the “we found a special place” look.
As if the food wasn’t enough reason to fall in love with Coco Pazzo, the people, such as Phil and our waiter, Darren, made it extra easy!
Darren was absolutely adorable and likeable! A fellow pizon from “the hill” — he knew that my standards, like his, were high when it came to Italian food. He shared that same look in his eyes over the quality of the food. He explained how several people from Italy had dined at Coco Pazzo not too long ago and said that the calamari and cannoli’s were the best they ever had (yes, cannoli’s – more on that in a bit).
For our main entree’s I ordered the Penne alla Vodka with grilled chicken and Jen ordered the Margherita Pizza made with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, basil and olive oil.
Now here is where things get truly CRAZY. Here is where 36 years of living and thinking I knew fantastic Italian food go out the window. I am not stealing the person from Italy’s saying of “being the best ever”, okay, I am, because you know what???? IT WAS!!!
The Penne alla Vodka would’ve made my great grandmother jealous! It was that good. How can I even begin to describe the way the cheese and the sauce blended perfectly together with the Rigatoni? Or how the chicken was grilled to perfection and melted in my mouth? How there was just enough spice in the sauce? All I know is I must have it again. Like, now. This. Very. Second. Put it this way, it took everything in my “size 12 self” (ahem) to stop eating the pasta so that I had a little bit left over to drop off at “Ma’s” house so that she could sample just how amazing it was.
Did I mention I am Italian and grew up on Federal Hill? CRAZY GOOD, Coco Pazzo!!
And then there is Jen’s pizza made in Coco Pazzo’s Mugnauni oven, which is possibly Rhode Island’s only Mugnauni oven.
Getting this oven in place was a labor of love that included tearing down a wall and being air lifted by a crane. Was it worth it? Oh, YES! Not only did the restaurant get a beautiful new window they have, in my opinion, the best brick oven in Rhode Island, scratch that, the entire galaxy! Don’t roll your eyes at me. Yes, I am a Gemini and get overly excitable, but I am not exaggerating. The pizza is a work of art.
The crust is thin and crunchy and placed in the oven for under 1 minute. The ingredients are then added to the pizza before being placed back int he over for 30-40 seconds. It is a work of art being able to cook the pizza just right.
To make it perfectly crispy, yet not burnt. The toppings on the Margherita pizza were extremely fresh. I could smell the basil and tomatoes from across the table. The flavor of the dough, and the crunch, is something that has to be experienced.
Random thought: I wish I could hide in the corner and snap photos of each diner’s expression as they take their first bite into the food at Coco Pazzo. I can only imagine what mine and Jen’s facial expressions looked like throughout the evening!
And what good Italian could ever leave a restaurant without dessert? We had to try the Cannoli’s that Darren recommended and, as a fan of bread pudding, I HAD to try English Cellar Alehouse’s bread pudding.
The Cannoli’s are HUGE and are, without a doubt, the best I had ever had. Jen was a virgin to Cannoli’s and, let’s just say, it satisfied her very much!
Coco Pazzo will be updated their menu very soon and the new Cannoli recipe, which we had, will have an orange liquor flavoring. YUM!!
The bread pudding was equally as delicious and generous in size! It reminded me of the bread pudding I’ve had down in New Orleans. Thick with caramel sauce and Vanilla creme anglaise.
I couldn’t control myself and ate every last bite!
Gay Travel Information’s Top 10 Reason’s Why You Should Dine at Coco Pazzo / English Cellar Alehouse
- The food! Hands down the food is the #1 reason you should experience Coco Pazzo. It is some of the best food I have ever (EVER) eaten. Everything is extremely fresh, using ingredients from local farms and how could you not be curious to try pizza made in a Mugnauni oven direct from Italy?
- Pricing! Prices for both Coco Pazzo and English Cellar Alehouse are extremely reasonable, especially for the quality food you are receiving.
- The sexy, Boston/NYC/Vegas bistro vibe of Coco Pazzo upstairs and the laid back, pub, “Cheers” like vibe of English Cellar Alehouse downstairs.
- The service! Service was fast and attentive. Be sure to ask for Darren!
- THE BEER!! English Cellar Alehouse has over 200 of the world’s finest beers. Take your time and work your way through each one why don’t cha?
- Al Fresco dining! Need I say more?
- Great music and pool! Both Coco Pazzo and English Cellar Alehouse have a hip vibe evident in the music they play and there is a beautiful pool table downstairs in English Cellar Alehouse. Monday’s are free pool night!
- Location! Coco Pazzo / English Cellar Alehouse are located on Angell Street, right off of bustling Thayer Street up “College Hill”, next to Brown University. Dining Al Fresco makes for some fantastic people watching!
- Coco Pazzo’s Community table! You don’t see community tables in Rhode Island that often. Coco Pazzo’s community table, made out of butcher block, is a great way to interact with other diners, or, the perfect spot for a party or group of friends to dine together.
- Super Gay Friendly! Coco Pazzo / English Cellar Alehouse reached out to Gay Travel Information and is eager to promote itself to the LGBT community.
HOURS (for both Coco Pazzo & English Cellar Alehouse):
- Sunday-Thursday 11:30am-1:00am
- Friday & Saturday 11:30am-2:00am
- Coco Pazzo Menu http://www.cocopazzori.com/CocoPlacematMenu.pdf
- English Cellar Alehouse Menu http://www.englishcellaralehouse.com/menu.pdf
- English Cellar Alehouse Drink Menu http://englishcellaralehouse.com/drinkmenu.html
- English Cellar Alehouse Beer Menu http://www.englishcellaralehouse.com/beermenu.pdf
GAY & LESBIAN FACTOR:
As a community we need to support businesses that TRULY reach out to us. That truly identify as LGBT friendly and that is, without a doubt, the case here at Coco Pazzo / English Cellar Alehouse. The owner, managers, workers etc., go out of their way to make you feel welcome. It is also a bonus that Coco Pazzo / English Cellar Alehouse is located up, what many refer to as “Rhode Island’s Castro District”, East Side / College Hill and is within walking distance to eclectic Thayer Street and Brown University. I would definitely make a night out of it! Dine upstairs at Coco Pazzo and then work your way down to English Cellar Alehouse and enjoy a beer or two, watch a game on TV, play some pool, listen to music etc,. I am, without a doubt, “OUTING” Coco Pazzo / English Cellar Alehouse as LGBT friendly and worth of our business.
Every aspect of Coco Pazzo / English Cellar Alehouse works. The food, the decor, the location, the service, the pricing. It is the type place I can’t wait to tell all my friends and family about, or rather, show off to my friends and family. I feel like I discovered something truly special and, even though they have only been opened since March 2012, the word is spreading and the wait can sometimes be over an hour long! I assure you, it is well worth it.
If you plan on going, message me….I’ll meet you there.
I’ve got it bad for Coco Pazzo.
Out & About Travel / Gay Travel Information