August 11, 2020

Taste of the Town:

posted on: Thursday November 8, 2001

Alexandra Silveira

Restaurant info:Cafe Tivoli385 Westminster Street453-2614 The labyrinths of downtown Providence remain largely unexplored as adventurers are deterred by an excessive number of one-way streets, an unreasonable lack of parking, and brazenly aggressive pedestrians. However, amidst the winding streets and parking meters there exists a reward for the trouble, Café Tivoli. Dealing with the necessity of parking five miles away from my destination, I walked by Café Tivoli one afternoon only to be attracted by the promise of good Portuguese food (a rarity in Providence as compared with the rest of the state). Once inside, the atmosphere was captivating with the restaurant invisibly divided into three sections. Before the large store window is a sort of small sitting room that includes a beige couch set on a wooden frame, a mirror, columns, and black and white photos framing a carving of an elephant. As a sort of divisor are small café tables that serve to separate the sitting area from foosball and pool tables and the bar. The division is incomplete and therefore the restaurant maintains an integrated and rich feel. The richness is augmented by the flavor of the food. The restaurant serves an assortment of Portuguese-influenced appetizers, salads, and lunch sandwiches and clubs with nearly every plentiful portion priced under $6. For those unfamiliar with Portuguese food, it utilizes many traditional Mediterranean ingredients with a heavy emphasis on garlic, olive oil, and wine along with a liberal use of hot spices like piri-piri sauce resulting in very flavorful food. There is also a heavy use of fish and seafood as a result of the tremendous expanse of coastal area. A Portuguese specialty and excellent appetizer is the shrimp Mozambique. Jumbo shrimp is sautéed in butter and olive oil and served with a spicy garlic and fresh herb sauce. The shrimp is perfectly done while the sauce is both hot and flavorful with the prominent taste of hot peppers and garlic. Having had many different preparations of this classical Portuguese dish it is nevertheless easy to say that Café Tivoli’s is by far the best. A more conservative way to start the meal is the soupa a portuguesa, always a sure crowd pleaser, accompanied by a delicious homemade white bread (cutely enough, made by the owner’s mother). Two other classical Portuguese items are the cacoila and chourico sandwiches. Cacoila is marinated pork meat that is stewed and very tender, served in delicious white bread. Well spiced, the cacoila is good but pales in comparison with the excellent homemade chourico sausage. Chourico is also marinated pork but the flavor is less sweet, rather it is spicy and mirrors the traditional Portuguese flavorings. Served with French fries, the chourico sandwich is one of the best around. The inescapable Italian influence on Rhode Island restaurants is evidenced in the homemade cannoli filled with pineapple cream cheese and topped with almonds and powdered sugar. The cream cheese filling is unusually light and airy although cannoli enthusiasts might be disappointed with the addition of pineapple that gives the normally sweet filling an even sweeter taste. The chocolate mousse is also light and airy with a good strength of chocolate flavoring that is not overpowering but rather satisfying accompanied by well-flavored whipped cream. Café Tivoli is a welcome respite from the city, a good place to relax or get out city driving tensions through a game of foosball. A small place, the owner is actively involved in making sure that the guests leave pleased, an easy task considering the quality of the food.GRADE: A+

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