An East Side foodie friend of mine had nothing but good things to say about Coco Pazzo, so I went to this College Hill restaurant with fairly high expectations. Things got off to an excellent start when I got a parking spot right across the street. The friendly wait staff stationed outdoors offered us a table on the sidewalk patio or inside; the high humidity had us heading up a short flight of stairs for some air-conditioned comfort. It also afforded us a look at the completely new interior. What for years had been an Asian restaurant is now an open and airy space with an interesting copper-colored tin ceiling. In the center of the main dining room is a long communal table, a great spot for making new friends. In one corner we spotted the Mugnaini pizza oven – another good sign that this is a restaurant that knows what it’s doing.
“Coco Pazzo” is the playful way of saying “crazy chef” in Italian. We can’t attest to anyone’s sanity, but we can vouch for the kitchen’s creativity. Once again we found ourselves in a Providence restaurant with a very original menu, the kind of place we could go to again and again and still find something new to try. The appealing menu offers tapas, appetizers, salads, pasta, entrees, sides and pizza. What to try first? For starters, I was torn – the Prosciutto Di Parma and Burrata board begged for my attention, as did the New Zealand Mussels in sweet rosemary cream and the basket of Frittola, miniature doughboys stuffed with Italian cold cuts.
In the end, it was the Deep Fried Oysters ($7) and the Zucchini Fritter ($5) that intrigued me the most for our first course. The battered oysters were fried until golden and served with salsa verde, which I didn’t even get into – I’m such a purist when it comes to the true taste of an oyster. With the fritter, I somehow expected something along the lines of that fleeting summer appetizer, a stuffed zucchini flower. Instead, it was a rather large, savory patty served with a pistachio nut dip. I thought I’d have just a bite or two, but found myself consuming the entire fritter with its equally unusual dip.
No comments on this item Please log in to comment by clicking here