A Century of Braciola

Since before the Great Depression, a Federal Hill mainstay has been serving Italian comfort food


From the glass marble community tables to the half-order – a smaller-portion option originating during the Great Depression – there’s a lot about Angelo’s Civita Farnese that hasn’t changed since it opened in 1924. Executive chef Joe Lopes, who’s been at the helm for 49 years, still follows many of the original recipes, so when guests order the Veal and Peppers or Braciola, for instance, they know exactly what to expect. It’s this consistency that current owner, Jamie Antignano, credits to the Italian eatery’s longevity in Federal Hill.

“We have such loyal guests that have been dining with us for decades and have brought multiple generations of customers,” says Antignano. The homey, unpretentious atmosphere is part of the draw; it’s the setting of family dinners, congregating neighbors,
or simply a quick meal to-go. Paying homage to Farnese, a small town northwest of Rome, the restaurant’s specialty is authentic Tuscan-style cuisine.

Today’s menu is also a product of Angelo’s past. The restaurant not only survived the Great Depression but filled customers’ stomachs without emptying their wallets by serving meatballs and French fries. “Angelo’s was the ‘workingman’s’ restaurant, without frills, serving simple, delicious food made from village cucina povera recipes,” says Jamie, referring to the Tuscan culinary tradition known as “kitchen of the poor.” “Each dish was hearty and substantial, never expensive.”

Spanning three moves and four generations, beginning with founder Angelo Mastrodicasa, the family business was handed down from Bob Antignano to daughters Jamie and Cindy, and in 2018, Jamie took over the business. She introduced the motto of “honoring the past, but celebrating the future.” Alongside signature comfort foods like Granma’s Pastine Soup with scratch-made chicken broth, there’s also the trendier yet still true-to-vision Tuscan White Bean Pasta, a fettuccine dish with caramelized garlic, cannellini beans, and basil. There’s more gluten-free and vegetarian options available than ever, and a revamped beverage program includes fun

cocktails like Lucy’s Grape Smash or a Spritz Flight – tastes of four bubbly prosecco beverages, from Aperol with orange to limoncello.

Angelo’s has earned national recognition for core menu items like their Braciola, a hand-cut spiced beef, which Guy Fieri tried in 2012 when he visited for an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. “When first-time guests visit, we give them free samples of our stewed Veal and Peppers and eggplant to welcome them,” says Jamie, both original recipes. The former “is so tender it melts in your mouth,” she explains. “Our eggplant is different from most; it’s pan-fried in an egg and flour dip so it’s light and fluffy and brings out the sweet tendencies of the eggplant. It’s topped with our House Red Gravy, which tastes just like grandma’s!”

The Federal Hill staple kicked off 100-year-
anniversary festivities with grape stomping, pasta making, and cigar rolling in April, though Antignano assures that they’ll continue celebrating all year. “We will also be running a special menu and of course have lots of 100th merchandise, including our new Private Label Centennial Wine, a custom candle, and much more.”

And longtime visitors already know, but to the uninitiated wondering about the 125-foot brass track with a full-scale model train – that’s the “Choo Choo Charity.” “Since 1994, a quarter will send the train traveling around the dining room ceiling; 100 percent of all donations benefit children’s charities in Rhode Island,” says Jamie. “We love giving back to the community that has given us so much and we hope to continue that for generations to come!” 141 Atwells Avenue, AngelosRI.com



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