Federal Hill Guide

Where to go and what to do to get the most out of Providence’s own Little Italy.

Federal Hill’s a funny place. While ostensibly defined by its Italian vibe, you’d be hard-pressed these days to find someone there fresh from the Old Country. Part tourist attraction, part historic relic, part modern community center, the Hill resists strict categorization even while seemingly embracing it.

Travel Atwells, and you’ll find dumplings as well as pepperoni, tattoo parlors and supper clubs, Cape Verdean dance nights and Armenian art. But this diversity only goes so far. You still don’t want to mispronounce a type of salami, or the guy in line behind you at Venda is sure to correct it (“It’s Mooooootadella. Not Morrrtadella! No, try it again: Mooooootadella!”). And though there are fewer and fewer Italian-Americans who live on the Hill, named long ago after the stately Federalist manors that populate its streets, there are many who still travel from the burbs to loiter there (all with a very strong opinion on how to create the most authentic espresso crema).

And this is what makes our state’s own Little Italy so quintessentially American, because up there, shop owners, restaurateurs and visitors (whether they’re 100 percent Italian or 2) still fiercely identify both with this country and the old one. And lucky for our palates (and our enduring American genealogical sentimentality), no one on the Hill or wandering it will ever have to decide between the two.

» A Federal Hill Timeline
» Destination Guide
» Pizza on the Hill
» How to Pick Out a Fresh Chicken
» Meat Glossary
» Ethnic Eats
» Market Watch
» Real Estate Q & A
» When You’re Not Eating
» The Accidental Shopper

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