- John Mariani Review November 21st '10
- New England Cable News - TV Diner November '10
- SO Rhode Island November '10
- Rhode Island Monthly August '10
- Projo May '10
- projo.com May'10
- thephoenix.com May '10
- Rhode Island Epicurean April '10
John Mariani Review November 21st '10
Readers may have read my high praise of La Masseria in NYC, owned by Giuseppe "Peppe" Iuele and Enzo Ruggiero with chef-partner Giuseppe "Pino" Coladonato. So here I go again, this time in praise of its only branch, in a small town in Rhode Island named East Greenwich. When I asked why they went way up there, I was told that a favorite customer and investor coaxed them, and the result is that now Rhode Island has one of the best new Italian restaurants in New England.
East Greenwich itself is good for a short stroll down Main Street, and somewhere in the middle lies La Masseria ("the farmhouse"), done with a rustic trattoria look that in the daytime absorbs all sorts of sunny highlights that make this a wonderful place for lunch. Have a bottle of wine with friends--the list is very nicely priced. Put yourself in the hands of one of the three owners, who go back and forth to NYC, and definitely ask what's special that day.
The day we went we were treated to an impeccably fried, greaseless fritto misto of calamari, shrimp, and sea scallops, along with some luscious zucchini blossoms, and burrata mozzarella with its creamy center and Speck bacon and tomato. La Masseria was making great meatballs long before the current fad took hold, so have them here, with a fresh tomato and basil sauce.
The namesake pasta, penne alla masseria, is a happy dish, chunky with pancetta, radicchio, smoked scamorza cheese, and creamy tomato sauce. Another of their signature items is the granotto (left), a Pugliese grain cooked till tender like risotto, here mixed with white beans and seafood sauce. Of the main courses we tried, branzino was cooked in aqua pazza ("crazy water"), which indicates a good solution of tantalizing spices to go with the sweet flesh of the fish. Rarely have I had more flavorful medallions of veal, here lavished with porcini mushrooms.
For dessert the torta di mamma paola, a family recipe, is a rich, flourless Caprese-style cake with crushed almonds, topped with vanilla ice cream. The ricotta cheese cake is sublime, as is the warm apple tart with raspberry sauce and vanilla ice cream.
Providence has long been known for the hearty Italian-American fare as served up on Federal Hill, but La Masseria brings to the area a true, regional cucina all'italiana it has sorely needed and now has in an exemplary, amiable form. The owners and their staff could not be more grateful its customers come to eat at their place. You sense it the moment you enter and long after you leave.
La Masseria is open for lunch and dinner Tues.-Sat. and for dinner on Sunday from 3 PM. Antipasti run $6.50-$16.50, full pastas $12.50-$21.50, and main courses $14.50-$32.50.
New England Cable News Review - TV Diner November '10
La Masseria is the Italian word for "farmhouse," and that’s just the feeling you get inside this rustic restaurant in East Greenwich, Rhode Island.
Antique wrought iron gates and farm tools on the stucco walls give this hot spot a touch of Old World charm. This is the Rhode Island version of the well-respected La Masseria in Manhattan. Both locations offer simple, fresh and flavorful Italian food, always using whatever is in season.
The Crispy Fried Zucchini is an excellent way to start a meal here. We were served a mountain of slivered zucchini, lightly battered and fried until golden. This was so delicious, we couldn’t stop munching on this healthy appetizer.
The Assortment of Cured Meats and Cheeses was another authentic taste of Italy, with plenty of mild provolone, prosciutto and mortadella on the serving platter.
There are 11 wonderful pasta dishes on the menu, but instead we tried the Granotto. This is a special grain imported from the Puglia (pronounced PULL-YEE-A) region of Italy, sort of a cross between barley and risotto. It’s served with tender white beans and chunks of seafood in a light tomato sauce. Italian comfort food at its best.
The Veal Milanese is a classic dish – a thinly pounded veal chop that is breaded and fried. It was topped with a mound of peppery arugula and fresh tomatoes. Very impressive.
The Mediterranean Sea Bream was simply gorgeous – a whole grilled fish was brought to the table and then filleted by our waiter. The filets had a delicate, ocean-fresh flavor. On the side were nicely roasted potatoes and a medley of chopped zucchini and corn.
Desserts here are to die for, especially the Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake, served with a big scoop of vanilla ice cream, and the Vanilla-Flavored Cheesecake, which is made with ricotta cheese.
We found ourselves eating every bite of food put before us, almost licking our plates clean. The food and service was right on the money. For transporting us to the heart of Italy for a couple of hours, we just have to give La Masseria the Platinum Plate.
Appetizers cost between $6.50 and $16.50. Entrees range from $14.50 to $32.50. Desserts run from $6.50 to $8.
SO Rhode Island Review November, 2010
Rhode Island Monthly August 2010
Projo Review May 2010
From Capri to East Greenwich: La Masseria captures the singular vision of three powerful passions
11:06 AM EDT on Thursday, May 6, 2010
By Gail Ciampa
Journal Food Editor
La Masseria co-owner and executive chef Pino Coladonato,
left, and co-owner Peppe Iuele are ready for patrons.
Co-owner and wine master Enzo Ruggiero is not shown.
The Providence Journal / John Freidah
When you listen to the owners of La Masseria talk about their new Italian restaurant in East Greenwich, it’s a bit startling to hear them rattle off their list of signature dishes.
But when they opened this outpost of their Manhattan ristorante La Masseria, Peppe Iuele, Enzo Ruggiero and Pino Coladonato knew well their strengths in la cucina.
They range from the comforting (perfectly constructed gnocchi and savory meatballs) to the all-the-rage artisanal (housemade mozzarella stuffed with the day’s freshest and best vegetables) to the dramatic attention-getters from the sea (grilled baby octopus, whole Mediterranean sea bream and a fresh pasta served atop a lobster).
Everything is made just right for anticipated guests at La Masseria,
on Main Street in East Greenwich.
This team has learned well how to optimize their individual strengths of hospitality (Iuele), wine (Ruggiero) and food (chef Coladonato) to create a singular vision built upon their passions.
This isn’t the first time Iuele and Ruggiero took to the road to grow and feed their souls. The friends were born on the island of Capri and they both left to go to England and Oxford. But their childhoods were filled with food. While Iuele’s father was a chef, Ruggiero watched his grandfather stomp grapes to make the family’s wine. He also fished with his family from an early age, making seafood a big part of his culinary life.
Iuele eventually moved to Bermuda for seven years and spent time in the business world. But he also took a job as wine steward at the Elbow Beach resort. When he moved to New York City, he and his old friend Ruggiero went to work at Sette Mezzo on the Upper East Side. There they met Coladonato who was the chef.
Italian farmhouse rustic is the design theme at La Masseria,
serving authentic Italian cuisine in East Greenwich.
The trio opened La Masseria in the Theater District in 2004. Esquire magazine and restaurant critic John Mariani, a Rhode Island native, named it as one of the best new restaurants in America.
Their food includes specialties from the Puglia region of Italy where Coladonato grew up. His homestyle dishes include one with local Pulgliese grains — granotto — cooked creamy like a risotto and served with white beans and seafood sauce. Ruggiero’s wine list includes selections from across the boot that pair with the dishes.
The restaurant is on busy Main Street at No. 223. The spot was most recently Trattoria del Corso and Kent American Bistro before that. But you won’t recognize the space since a renovation and redesign by Libby Langdon. Now an interior designer who appears on HGTV’s “Small Space, Big Style” and has authored a book by that name, she was a one-time actress and former wife of Rhode Island film director Michael Corrente.
This pasta entrée has fresh thin fettuccine with lobster and light tomato sauce.
She has captured the feel of the farmhouse (which is what La Masseria translates to) with a rustic design including recessed stone arches and entry points. The walls of one area are decorated with empty wine bottles (some going back to 1928 and 1947 and all enjoyed with great meals, said Iuele). Other spaces are adored with farm tools (pitchforks and more) and shelves lined with country-style vases and other vessels.
In addition to East Greenwich general manager Andrea Minopoli, either Iuele or Ruggiero will be on site most weekends. Iuele is a big fan of Newport and spends time there in the summer.
You’ll recognize Iuele by his red glasses and the big personality he’s brought with him from New York. He said he likes to bring people together when he’s working at the restaurant.
“I’m like an actor on Broadway and I come to work to entertain,” he said.
In New York, he’s proud to have entertained many actors and actresses from movies and Broadway, but especially three from his favorite film “Glory.” Denzel Washington was the last of the three to come in and dine recently. Morgan Freeman and Matthew Broderick had already been in.
Dramatic entrée choices at La Masseria include grilled whole Mediterranean Sea Bream.
It’s a long way from Capri to Broadway, but food seemed to pave the way.Go to Original Online Article
Exemplary Italian fare in East Greenwich
By JOHNETTE RODRIGUEZ | May 5, 2010
The first thing to say about La Masseria is that, despite its name meaning “farmhouse” and its décor focusing on earth tones with exposed brick and pitchfork tines hanging on one wall, it’s a beautiful space. It has a country feel, but it’s also light, airy, sophisticated. Kudos to Libby Langdon, who also designed La Masseria’s Manhattan restaurant and who has maintained her Rhode Island ties.
Owners Peppe Iuele and Enzo Ruggiero were childhood friends in Capri, and they combined their passions for food and wine, respectively, to open the flagship eatery in 2004, when Esquire food critic John Mariani picked it as one of the best new restaurants in America. Executive chef and co-owner is Pino Colodonato, who grew up on a farm in Puglia. He remembers the grains and beans of the land as well as the seafood, and his expertise in those foods shines in his menu.
The terra mare del tavoliere ($15.50) as an appetizer is a signature dish: the tenderness of the grilled baby octopus and cuttlefish, the definitive preparation of the broocoli rabe with it and the fava bean pureé on which they sit, highlight the chef’s skill. The fritto misto del mare (fried calamari, shrimp and sea scallops, $16.50) does the same.
These appetizers are generous enough to share and worth every penny. Similarly, the crispy fried melt-in-your-mouth shoestring zucchini ($6.50) is a surprise. And mozzarella is made daily at La Masseria, stuffed with vegetables, then rolled and sliced ($9.50). Our incarnation had eggplant, asparagus, and roasted red peppers and was delicious.
Iuele prides himself on La Masseria’s meatballs, made only from ground rib eye steak ($13.50). Our three dining companions could have stopped the meal at the meatballs and/or simply had more meatballs.
But a food reviewer’s work is never finished with the appetizers, so we pressed on to the pastas and entreés. The whole wheat ziti with vegetables ($13.50) was quite tasty; the potato gnocchi with tomato-basil sauce ($15.50) were light and delectable. The most unusual dish among the pastas and grains, however, turned out to be “granotto,” a barley-shaped grain from Puglia, prepared like risotto, with white beans and littlenecks. We all loved its toothsome but creamy texture.
The penne Masseria has a signature light tomato sauce, with pancetta, radicchio, and smoked mozzarella ($12.50), and Bill was attracted to its smoky overtones, though he wanted a bit more heft from the tomato sauce.
When we got to the entreés, I chose a fish dish (pan-fried swordfish, $23.50) and Bill the veal Milanese ($32.50). Both were breaded with crushed breadsticks, and the veal was a thinly pounded chop with an arugula/tomato salad on the side. Bill loved his meal, and I liked the non-greasy breading on the fish, though it seemed to overwhelm the delicate seafood taste.
Other seafood choices at La Masseria are grilled whole Mediterranean sea bream, grilled branzino or salmon, and grilled prawns. The chef is so pleased with the quality of squid in Rhode Island that perhaps it will be featured more prominently than just in a supporting role.
Among the entreés are three appealing chicken dishes, especially “grilled young chicken old country style.” There’s also oven-roasted rabbit and a grilled rib eye with fries for meat-and-potato eaters.
The desserts present the expected — tiramisu, crème bruleé, gelatos, and sorbets — with the unexpected — ricotta cheesecake and flourless chocolate-almond cake ($6-$8). The cake is “torta di Mamma Paola,” from Iuele’s mama, and it is so fabulous that I began finishing up other portions at the table!
The cheesecake is made with water buffalo milk ricotta, extremely smooth but with a gamey undertaste. My tablemates thought I was crazy, and Ruggerio mentioned that I was the first one he’d met who didn’t enthuse about it. That just exemplifies the subjective nature of tasting and telling.
La Masseria is a marvelous addition to the Italian scene in Rhode Island, and it has a carefully chosen wine list. I’d wager there are dishes here you won’t find at any other establishment, and each one is made with the care you’d want a family member to expend on a special dinner for your birthday (or Mother’s Day).
Rhode Island Epicurean
La Masseria Ristorante
09 April, 2010
La Masseria, the spawn of a New York City restaurant with the same name, stands out on scenic Route 1 in East Greenwich. The wonderful spring blossoms and warm weather enhanced the approach to this new restaurant. Its concept is simple; rustic Italian cuisine served in a dinning room that resembles a farm house. All food would be inspired mainly from the Puglia region, though bits of Capri and Naples worked their way into the menu. The concept fits well with Rhode Island's rustic past and strong Italian influence. Designer Libby Langdon designed the interior with very nice results, though a pretty restaurant does not often make a good restaurant.
Me and my wife ate upstairs as part of a media luncheon that offered a lengthy tasting menu. The owners, Peppe and Enzo, introduced themselves. They detailed how their childhood in Capri influenced the restaurant. They introduced Chef Pino Coladonato and Manager Monopoli. They are the two in charge of the Rhode Island restaurant while the owners themselves would float between thee New York and Rhode Island locations. They made a special note that the staff had trained in the New York restaurant and transplanted to East Greenwich. Did the transplantation work?
Our meal started with a two types of rustic bread with olive oil, grissini (house made thin bread sticks) and a glass of lemony prosecco. Manager Monopoli served as our sommelier for the meal, noting he would accompany every dish with an appropriate wine. The prosecco fit the day perfectly with a light taste. The grissini tasted a tad dry, but were very flavorful. We also enjoyed a classic white italian bread and a grainy wheat bread. Alongside side the bread came a small dish of olive oil sporting what looked like capers, though we were corrected that it was infused with lentils and garlic. The mixture went well with the hardy crust and tender miche of both breads.
Our waiters then brought out the appetizer courses. The first course featured Bruschetta (small crostini topped with black truffles and fontina cheese), Fritto misto del Mare (a small selection of fried seafood), and I Cucuzielli Fritti alla Pino (fried zuchini strings). Overall, the presentation was nice but seemed a bit thrown together. The chef placed the fritto misto upon a slightly wilted red cabbage cup that took away some of the fritto misto's crispiness. The kitchen also placed a lemon-half alongside the trio. The lemon felt wildly out of place. The food, however, was delicious. Originally, we were told our bruschetta would have ripe tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil. The black truffle and fontina toppings surprised us (and it felt a bit like they were trying to buy us off), though it was delicious. The Fritto misto featured wonderfully sweet scallops and shrimp, though my calamari tasted a tad old and the texture was tougher than I am used to. The zuchini strings stole the show for me, despite being the least flashy of the trio. My wife preffered the truffle and fontina crostini, which was incredibly delicious. The delicate tempura crisped the strings perfectly, indicating why this was one of the owner's favorite dishes. We enjoyed the Bortoluzzi Pinot Grigio paired with the meal, noting it fit the summery selection.
Our next appetizer course featured another house speciality, the Mozzarella farcita. This house-made cheese included a daily selection of ingredients stuffed within the delicate presentation. Our stuffing included marinated eggplant, roasted red peppers, and tender asparagus. A wonderful stainless steel-aged Puglia chardonnay paired wonderfully with this dish, and the trio of vegetables went wonderfully with the fresh cheese. Plating also improved with the stuffed cheese set upon a large coin of marinated eggplant.
The final appetizer course, Terra mare del Tavoliere (grilled octopus and cuttlefish served atop broccoli rabe and a fava bean puree) paired with Feudi di San Gregorio Falanaghina. The wine was not stand-out with the dish, but the dish itself should grace every diner's table. The kitchen perfectly grilled the cephalopods tasted fantastic. Each were wonderfully marinated in separate concoctions that highlighted the unique tastes. I enjoyed the Octopus tentacles while my wife enjoyed the cuttlefish. Both proteins tasted wonderful dipped into the puree.
The dinner courses started with the restaurant's signature Polpette di Manzo della Masseria (long Italian title for house-made meatballs). Chef Pino prepares a fresh bath daily ground from tender rib eye beef, resulting in a soft and tasty meatball. The delicate tomato sauce and fresh greens served alongside the meatball enhanced its flavor, which all went together with glass of Corvina-Rondinella wine made from Palazzo della Torre. The Palazzo della Torre was a table favorite, and it paired magnificently with the meatball. The Polpette di Manzo stands out as a simple dish that showed true proficiency and potential.
A course of gnocchi followed the meatball. Gnocchi can be fickle. I've been to many restaurants with disappointing servings of the delicate potato dumplings. My wife also eagerly anticipated the meal given my gnocchi is her favorite dish. La Masseria's serving did not disappoint. The dumplings melted in the mouth with a wonderful pink tomato-basil sauce. My only complaint were the small beads of mozzarella, I prefer nice big pieces with the gnocchi, but it's a small gripe. The wine, a Vietti Dolcetta D'Alba, paired with this course.
Next came another house speciality, the Penne Masseria. I was a bit disappointed with again having another tomato-basil sauce (present in the previous 2 dishes), though this one featured a nice smokey combination of pancetta and smoked mozzarella. The ingredients produced a very rich plate of pasta that was wonderfully seasoned. Manager Monopoli paired this dish with a lovely primitivo that he chilled in a Neapolitan style. It itself was a delicious summer wine, but I felt it did not pair with the richness of the dish.
A nice Granotto al Frutti di Mare e Fagioli followed the pair of pasta dishes. Chef Pino prepared the grain like a risoto with a nice assortment of shrimp, clams, and calamari. Unfortunately, the problems with the calamari earlier (tough) continued to this dish. The shrimp and clams also tasted a bit overcooked, though the grains were al dente. The dish was supposed to also have white beans, though I only found one in my dish. A lovely Nero d'Avola enhanced an otherwise lackluster dish.
Veal Milanese came out as the final entree course. Chef Pino coated the veal, tender-white and pounded thin, with crushed grissini. The coating worked producing a not-so-greasy milanese. A small salad of marinated tomatoes and greens accented the cutlet's seasoning. Manager Monopoli supplied a Barbera D'Asti to pair with the veal to compliment the protein. Together, the dish and wine produced a nice meal.
After all this food, how could we eat dessert? When the waiters served coffee and two wonderful slices of cake we could not say no. First, we tried the Torta di Ricotta. This smooth ricotta cheese cake would embarrass any other competitors. The wonderful flavor mixed with a fantastic texture. My wife preferred the second slice; the Torta di Mamma Paola. The soft and flour-less chocolate almond cake stood up well to the more angelic cheese cake. Almond slivers added a nice texture to the cake. Together they surrounded a nice pile of whipped cream topped with a raspberry and delicious chocolate syrup. A digestif of Muscat'asti finished a lovely meal.
Chef Pino proved the concept carried from New York to East Greenwich. The tasting menu represented the cuisine very well. I felt like I missed nothing and experience the Chef's goal. A few minor mis-steps did not destroy my experience, and my partner enjoyed her meal just as much.