Rhode Island's Greatest Dish…Ever

I’m a huge fan of all the end-of-year lists — best movies of 2010, the year in quotes, the year in pictures, the best fiction, the best non-fiction, and on and on and on. Some of my favorite lists — surprise! — involve one of my favorite subjects: food. All the big-city critics (and bloggers) mull the hottest new restaurants and the city’s best dishes. They praise franks and foie gras, street food and stadium eats, white-tablecloth fare and wine lists. It’s open season – everything they’ve eaten in the past 365 days is fair game, and once their lists are live, other critics (and readers) are free to pounce. Disagree. Grumble. Throw knives. It makes for good reading.

Now that we’re a solid week into 2011, the lists are old news, and the critics are focused forward. Except for one giant exception — New York magazine’s latest issue covers the best of everything, ever, in the history of New York, from the greatest novel to the greatest politician to the greatest mistake. You get the idea. And, of course, restaurant critic Adam Platt weighs in on the greatest dish — an enormous honor, mind you, in a city known for having one of the best food scenes on the planet. His pick? The oyster roast from Grand Central Oyster Bar. He writes, “I would argue that it’s grander than that other great New York icon, the pastrami sandwich on rye, more versatile than eggs Benedict (invented at the Waldorf-Astoria) or the porterhouse steak, and heartier than vichyssoise soup, which the great chef Louis Diat first served at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel on 46th Street in 1917.”

It got me thinking, what if we did this for Rhode Island? What would be the greatest dish in our state’s history? Would the nod go to Al Forno’s grilled pizza? Do people (gasp!) feel the weiner is worthy? Would fried clams from Flo’s get the win?

It should be a dish that has history, a cult following and speaks to what makes our state so special. So what dish gets your vote?