Food News: Aguardente opens in Fox Point, PVD pop-up Tournesol Kitchen returns, and Matilda RI dishes out empanadas


Shareable snacks popping up around PVD

Tournesol Kitchen is back on the scene with seasonal flavors and a roster of pop-ups. Karissa Bednarz and Zack Joachim’s spin on elevated snacks includes Roasted Fig Toast, Grilled Halloumi on focaccia, and other seasonal fare taking advantage of local farm harvests. Like so many, the passion project  blossomed in the midst of lockdown. “We were both laid off and wanted to rekindle our love for food, and get to do it together,” explains Bednarz. “We focus on using locally sourced, seasonal ingredients to create small plates that feel indulgent and upscale.”

“We think of our menu as extremely shareable – it can bring the whole table together and everyone leaves feeling satisfied,” says Bednarz, describing the blend of sweet and savory bites that combine both of their culinary backgrounds in an outlet to get creative. In the gnocchi alone, their signature dish, filling and garnishes can change from week to week. The duo will be making appearances at ISCO November 3 and 10, and at LLB, Harvest Kitchen, and Tiny Bar throughout the season.  


Fox Point restaurant celebrates Portuguese and Latin flavors and histories

Aguardente, the newly opened Portuguese and Latin-fusion restaurant in Fox Point, is the culmination of three immigrant owners’ visions. Chef-owner Natalia Paiva-Neves curates flavor-packed tapas with recipes drawn from her Azorean heritage that span across Portugal, Guatemala, Spain, and Peru. The aromatic spirits – mezcals and tequilas, ports and namesake aguardentes (“fire water”) – are compliments of Portuguese businessman-owner Victor Pereira and can be sampled in flights or craft cocktails. Guatemalan artist-owner Magda León created the print-style murals that cover the walls, a perfect complement to the restaurant’s aesthetics of pierced brass lanterns, twinkling string lights, and bright green plants.

The sounds of conversation that fill the restaurant constitute the final touch of the owners’ vision. “We did this because we want to engage the world in conversation. It’s important to remain authentic to the story, our story,” says Pereira. “The voyage of leaving home and learning how to navigate is part of all of our stories, and we want to communicate that in a positive, healthy way.” 


Matilda RI trucks big flavors around the Ocean State

Founded by Johnson & Wales alum (and first generation Rhode Islander) Tony Lugo, Matilda RI is a family-owned food truck that pays homage to their abuelita (grandmother), dishing out drool-worthy pastelitos and empanadas to hungry fans across the state.

Lugo developed a vegan dough that is a perfect balance of crispy and flakey. The insides are stuffed with items like Los Tres Golpes (a spin on the traditional Dominican breakfast dish) and crowd-favorite Jamón y Queso made with slow-roasted pernil (pork shoulder). The Royalé, a sweet pastelito made with Nutella, fresh strawberries, and bananas, will satisfy any sweet tooth. What’s Abuelita’s secret? Her special sazón (seasoning) and “love,” according to Claudia Esp, Lugo’s big sister and Matilda’s brand manager: “We want every customer to feel that joy and love with every bite of one of our hearty pastelitos and empanadas.” Look for Matilda RI’s truck at The Guild in Pawtucket and other locations around the state. 


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