Food News

Off the Menu and Into Your Belly

Private dining with style at the Providence Marriott


Imagine a cozy evening filled with off-the-menu dishes and wine pairings. The hustle and bustle of the busy restaurant is only background noise as you have a private dining area all to yourself. Well, almost all to yourself. More like, a small group has a room all to themselves. Something along the lines of a rehearsal dinner, wedding shower, corporate “thank you” dinner for VIP clients or perhaps just a group of friends. This intimate dining experience takes place at the Bluefin Grille at the Providence Marriott Downtown, and it’s called The Chef’s Table.

The Chef’s Table was born out of the Marriott’s annual event where they showcase their chefs. It evolved into The Chef’s Table Private Dining Experience and a monthly Chef’s Table Wine Dinner Series. Diners may reserve The Chef’s Table Private Dining Experience ten days in advance, or anyone can attend one of The Chef’s Table Wine Dinner Series monthly events.

Just a few of the dishes that will whet your appetite are the trio of oyster samplings; seared duck breast with charred bok choy, celeriax puree, lotus chips and a cinnamon plum sauce; and “squaffles” – butternut squash waffles with maple peppercorn caramel, vanilla bean ice cream and candied tarragon.

And the man behind the creative and tempting cuisine: Chef Franco Paterno. He’s been with the Providence Marriott Downtown for 30 years, and there’s no end to his wealth of culinary knowledge and inspiration. “My cuisine is definitely globally inspired, utilizing classic culinary techniques, the best local ingredients and watching the latest trends while retaining a real level of authenticity,” Chef Franco explains. “My dishes are inspired by past work, all current and past culinary team members, friends and family. I am especially inspired by my mom, Annunziata, who is the best cook – period.”

His favorite dish to serve is by far Bluefin Grille’s signature entrée: Seared Haddock with a littleneck pan chowder. “It is highly representative of our region, utilizing local products that are very sustainable,” says Chef Franco.

But what about these wine pairings? The wine selection is dictated by the menu. Kevin Shakespeare, the General Manager of the Bluefin Grille, tastes the menu and then selects the wines. “It’s a balance that is both complementary and contrasting,” says Kevin. “For example, I might pair a spicy seafood dish with a sweet German Riesling or a buttery, high fat content dish (like pasta) with an equally buttery Chardonnay.”

“Guests can look forward to memorable dining experiences, eating great food and drinking an amazing selection of wine, while at the same time exploring unique food items [and] learning about how each is prepared,” says Chef Franco. “The highlight is the cooking demo where a course is prepared tableside giving the guest the opportunity to interact with me as I describe how to make it. Guests leave inspired to try it at home!” Private dining experience for up to eight people starts at $900; The Chef’s Table Wine Dinner Series is $85 per person. 1 Orms Street. 272-5852