Throughout the year, Restaurant Editor Bill Addison will travel the country to chronicle what's happening in America's dining scene and to formulate his list of the essential 38 restaurants in America. Follow his progress in this travelogue/review series, The Road to the 38, and check back at the end of the year to find out which restaurants made the cut.
Ask what's hot in the Providence dining scene and Rhode Island food mavens will likely mention North, a 30-seat boîte run by three cooks who take cues from the Momofuku playbook of small plates and tremendous flavors. (One of them, James Mark, worked for David Chang.) Plates of country ham and fried oysters gussied with pickles share menu space with bowls of dan dan noodles and roasted chicken ramen. Inquire after the area's upscale favorite for anniversaries and the answer might be Persimmon in Bristol, a nearby seaside town. Its chef and co-owner, Champe Speidel, marries local tradition (elegant, fritter-like clam cakes poised over a lush clam chowder) with primo ingredients and modern notions (striped bass tartare, duck breast with foie gras-stuffed morels).