Food News: Middle Eastern fare comes to Atwells, Pawtucket-Central Falls empanada fest, and Vegtober at Trinity Beer Garden

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Middle Eastern fare joins Atwells’ vibrant offerings

OURS is the newest neighbor on Federal Hill, and they’re not keeping the unique flavors of Kurdistan to themselves. Italia Sousa and Srood Barwary bring family recipes and warm, tropical vibes to their restaurant and lounge concept. “OURS incorporates a modern design, Middle Eastern-inspired dishes and a chic, high-energy atmosphere,” says Sousa, who anticipates the Atwells destination becoming “a haven for locals and visitors who appreciate a refined experience with elevated cuisine and innovative cocktails.”

Start with small plates like handmade Dolma (stuffed grape leaves) and Kubba, a crispy fried potato and rice appetizer filled with beef, and travel to Turkey with a selection of shawarma wraps and traditional Middle Eastern entrees, from kebab platters to Beef Biryani. “Dayas Kofta is one of our most favorite dishes; it’s a family secret recipe with a balance of different herbs,” says Sousa, describing a dumpling stuffed with minced beef and served in a broth of garlic, celery, and onion. Pineapple, passion fruit, and coconut star in summer drinks garnished with dried florals and salted rims. 

Pawtucket foodie fest is an empanada feast

Along with all the global cuisine you can fit in the square mile of Pawtucket and Central Falls participating in their joint Restaurant Weeks, this year’s festivities include the first ever PCF Empanada-Fest. The friendly competition will highlight local makers of these traditionally Latin American pastry pockets filled with pork, chicken, or beef and veggies. Participants can register for a judging card to keep track of their favorites as they sample each vendor and vote for their top three of 10, which includes JA Patty, La Arepa, Matos Bakery, and more.

“Pawtucket and Central Falls are two of the most diverse communities in Rhode Island and we want to host an event that highlights and celebrates our cultural and culinary diversity,” says Anthony Hebert, who serves on the PCF Restaurant Weeks committee. “Our two communities are home to dozens of empanada-makers… we are a destination for those seeking authentic Latin American and Caribbean cuisine.” PCF Restaurant Weeks runs August 27-September 19, with the Empanada-Fest on September 18 in Slater Park. 

A celebration of plant-based eats at Trinity Beer Garden

A longtime vegan herself, Robin Dionne was inspired by the veg fests she saw popping up just outside of Rhode Island. “I thought they provided a fun and informative day for vegans and non-vegans who are curious about making a lifestyle change – the ‘Plant Curious’, as I like to call them!” Dionne says of her inspiration for organizing RI VegFest, which debuted in February 2020. This month, she and husband BJ Mansuetti look forward to launching Vegtober Fest, an outdoor gathering celebrating all things veg with 15 local restaurants and three breweries at Trinity Beer Garden.

“Our goal is to encourage people to live a more compassionate lifestyle and showcase all the great plant-based options that are out there,” says Dionne. “The restaurants we work with are not all strictly vegan, but they all recognize the importance of making options available to the plant eaters of the world.” From Yeye’s plant-based ceviche to Born From Pain Baked Goods’ scratch seitan and more, a marketplace of restaurants and vendors will offer a taste of vegan eating on September 19. 

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