Basta & open season are the rave at Crave RI

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Cranston’s Award-winning Italian restaurant and Open Season, Warwick’s award-winning food truck were both the rave at CVS’s Crave RI at the Dunkin Donuts Center last week.

Over 60 food and beverage booths lined the oval hockey rink for what I hope is the first of many food festivals accompanying the annual CVS golf tournament, which has raised millions of dollars for local charities. Thousands of people filled the floor to sample everything from Saugy’s to Duck Confit Rillette and Narragansett beer to wine from Newport Vineyards. Ironically, the lines were longer for the hot dogs.

Narragansett’s Crazy Burger offered bourbon meatballs, while North Kingstown’s Provision had both meat and meatless ones to sample.

The beverage booths outnumbered the food booths by a small margin, as people got more than their $20 worth, sampling everything from iced tea to craft beer in a small souvenir glass they could take home to remind them of this well-run event.

Tables and chairs filled the center of the arena, with recycling barrels close at hand. All of the booths were identically constructed, with signs identifying the “partners” who proudly passed out their food and drink specialties, along with menus and information on their establishments.

My favorites? Basta and Open Season, and I’m not being parochial. The young men at the popular Pawtuxet restaurant were coming off a busy weekend of Gaspee Days celebrations, offering a generous serving of Prociutto di Parma (the thinly sliced Italian meat with Grano Padano cheese).

Nestled in the far corner of the rink was Warwick’s super food truck, Open Season, located at 10 Music Lane, behind Walgreen’s in the under-construction Apponaug section. They were doing a huge business as word got around about their venison chili.

Open Season has a busy food truck and catering business and can be seen at just about any event held in Warwick, including in front of City Hall. They also participate in the Friday Night Roger Williams Park Food Truck event. Famous for their wild game menu, they proudly displayed four first place trophies they had recently received.

Judging from the large crowds Thursday night and the anticipated attendance Friday night, the event will certainly be a success. It is the perfect model for others anticipating a similar event, and I look forward to attending next year. Hopefully, Rhode Islanders will experience a number of new restaurants to visit over the summer. Friday night

When I discovered that a number of different restaurants would be at the Festival Friday night, including Cranston's Chapel Grill, I decided to brave the rain and make a return visit.

Much to my surprise, the Dunk floor was shoulder to shoulder, with long lines waiting for that taste of beer, BaoBao, eggplant parm and other delights. It was worth waiting in line for a taste of Chapel Grille's lobster chowder and Angelo's alio and olio, cooked by owner Bob Antagnano.

I'm sure the folks at CVS were overwhelmed with the huge turnout, which showed the interest that Rhode Islanders have for these type of food events. Unfortunately, some of the participants were also overwhelmed with the numbers and ran out of food early in the evening.

For a first-time event, I give CVS an A for effort and hope that they will have a 2nd Annual Crave. Perhaps a bigger venue (the Convention Center ballroom), limiting the number of tickets sold, and/or holding the event for three days would accommodate more participants.

One thing is for sure: Crave demonstrated that Rhode Island has some of the best food and drink in the United States!

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