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Students were rapt as Chef Manzo humorously and candidly discussed his philosophy of making pizza and doing business. He, along with his wife and partner Christine, enthusiastically answered questions, their obvious passion–and lots of hard work–explaining their success. Federal Hill Pizza is located both in Warren and Providence.

Billy & Christine

An Abbey student encounters pizza very frequently—both the hardly biteable ones served at Stillman or the greasy ones delivered by North End Pizzeria. These pizzas epitomize the fast-paced spirit that dominates our student life. Pick up a pizza, devour the cheese,meat, and grease on it, and proceed to the next event. 

But are we missing out the beauty of pizza delicately created by the balance of proper ingredients and the process of cooking itself? Certainly at the Abbey, but not at Federal HillPizza. Last Sunday, our trip to the Federal Hill Pizzeria gave me a little insight into the beauty of pizza. Expecting a simple grab-and-go pizza trip, I was surprised and amazed by the incredible reception and lecture from Chef Billy. 

Chef Billy began with a long talk about his personal experience and the business side of the pizza business,reiterating his philosophy of creating a different mode of pizza business that differs from Domino’s almost assembly-line-like mode. Instead of optimizing hisprofit, he wanted to make the best pizza with the best ingredients. He also talked about the process of cooking itself, explaining the nuances of ingredients and cooking appliances. 

The most exciting part—eating—came after these cool experiences. The freshly-baked Margherita Pizza truly embodied Chef Billy’s cooking philosophy, harmoniously combining some of the best cheese and flour. The savor of Caesar Salad, pasta, and the dessert was also simply beyond the power of my description. 

Sitting on the bus on the way back to our lovely Cory’s Lane, I realized that the trip was not only about tasting the food but also about learning about the philosophy of cooking and appreciating its beauty. The trip offered me a new perspective of pizza, an often oversimplified and underrated food. – David Sun ‘19

  • Billy

Pizzas out of the thousands-dollar Neapolitan brick oven are something else. Unlike that of worldwide chain pizzerias, a bite off a slice of pizza from Federal Hill Pizza is nothing of greasy pepperoni, dense bread, and cheese that taste like plastic. And a note-taking moment from Chef Billy: Federal Hill Pizza uses authentic and original pork pepperoni, instead of beef ones that just make the pizza overall oily. From the buttery and fluffy bread to milky cheese, those pizzas taste fulfilling, but by no means heavy. The most surprising taste experienced was a watery sensation, accomplishing the rich but light texture of the pizzas. 

One cannot help but wonder who the chef behind the juicy deliciousness is. Chef Billy from Federal Hill Pizza is a true character. When asked about his vision for the restaurant, he confirmed his hope for expanding, but also stating the belief that the most important thing for any restaurant is quality. In the midst of the rapid development of the food industry, he firmly holds on to his identity and stays true to who he is. His charismatic confidence and humor will brand his restaurant and educate more eaters, as he wishes.–Evelyn Long ‘19

Chef William Manzo Jr. not only serves up some of the best pizza in Rhode Island, he does so with such charisma and enthusiasm. Hidden behind a seemingly small and innocent pizza shop lies a great hidden gem of Providence. After passing behind the counter,one finds themselves in a whole new restaurant, dark and dimly lit, with an air of romance in the decoration. From the red brick walls to the hanging light bulbs,the interior design evokes a sense of romance which can only be truly describedby the man at the centre of it all: Chef Billy. Even after 30 seconds of hearing him speak, it is evident the clear passion he has for his craft and thelocation which means so much to his own upbringing. He details the lengths he has gone to in order to obtain the most natural ingredients, which leads into the amazing taste of his final products.

The simple Margherita pizza Chef Billy presented had a certain je ne se quoi which differentiates it from others. Perhaps it was the special cheese with butter fat which gave it that extra flavor, or the impressively grand brick oven imported from Italy that made the bread just right, but the compilation of many different factors made the simple dish perfect. It was clear that in making such a basic dish,Chef Billy has dissected every small detail of the process to ensure the best quality. From water pH levels to atmospheric humidity, no factor was considered too small in serving the best dish to his customers.

Overall, Chef Billy has created a truly special dining experience, integrating his attention to detail with traditional Italian flavors, forming remarkable dishes.– Jonathan Susilo‘19

  • Sponsorship

Upon taking the first step inside Federal Hill Pizza, the smell of brick ovens and cooking pizza dough danced around the room,adding to the both endearing and highly professional atmosphere of the restaurant in Providence, Rhode Island. Chef Billy Manzo, a man with one of the widest varieties of past employment imaginable, found a love for making real pizza, and it shows. His process of gathering ingredients alone, before even attempting to make the pizza, is noteworthy. He researches what ingredients will be the best, from what region of the world and for what pizza. One of, if not the most important factor in pizza is the care that is put in to making its foundations the best quality itcan be. Then, of course, the magnificent brick ovens from Italy cannot be ignored. Every detail is accounted for—the way the bricks were put into the oven, the type of wood used for the fire, and the temperature the dough should be before going into the oven.

            After learning about the intense science, business and art behind pizza, an aromatic smell wafted through the air signaling it was finally time to eat. The star of the day, the Neapolitan pizza. Dressed with cheese that had a slightly savory butter fat and an astounding red sauce on a perfectly cooked dough, each bitewas met with utter harmony. The cheese instantly melted into the amazing gooey texture cheese should be. Combined with the sauce and the crust with a slight crisp to it, it was clear the precise care that was put in to creating that pizza. That pizza tasted as pizza should. And, even with a full belly, it would be impossible or extremely regrettable to turn down the Nutella and fried dough balls. The chocolate spread melted onto the warm fried dough, making it soft but still maintaining a crispy bite. They are dangerously addictive. It’s an experience filled with enticing smells, friendly company, wonderful presentation and, of course, some of the best food any one person could ever indulge in. –Abby Gibbons ‘19

For most Americans, pizza evokes thoughts of quick delivery and greasy cardboard boxes, but at Federal Hill Pizza, one Rhode Island chefs aims to make a change. If only one word could be used to summarize Chef Billy Manzo’s philosophy of pizza, it would be “quality.” This dedication to quality starts first with the ingredients, which Manzo explained needed tobe not only excellent, but more importantly, consistently excellent. Next, the methods must be equally consistent. In developing his “flavor profile,” Manzo said that every conceivable variable, including the composition of the atmosphere, the pH of the water, and even the temperature of the dough before it goes into the oven must be taken into account to avoid huge differences in the final product. Although Manzo’s high-quality equipment, including ovens especially imported from Italy and wood that’s hand-selected from New England trees, comes with a much higher up-front cost, the businessman-turned-chef explained that in the long run, such investments actually saved money as they lasted longer with lower maintenance costs in addition to making better pizza.

            Although some might call Manzo’s attention to detail “obsessive,” the results of his commitment to quality became quickly apparent with the first bite. The first flavor to make itself known was the dough, so often an afterthought in fast food pizza. The wonderful taste and consistency of the warm pizza dough immediately concretized everything that the chef had said, from the Italian double-zero flour to each painstakingly controlled environmental variable,creating a rich and wonderful flavor independent of the toppings. We sampled two different variants of Federal Hill’s signature Neapolitan pizza, one made with shredded cheese, and the second featuring what Manzo describe as “real cheese,” containing over 18% butterfat. Just as the pizza dough had taken on a whole new dimension, so this contrast showed the same phenomena for the cheese,elevating it to a hitherto unknown richness of flavor. Atop this foundation,the fresh toppings provided just the right amount of refined and detailed flavoring in perfect combination. Through his remarkable focus on quality, Chef Billy Manzo not only turns pizza-making into an exact science, but also a fine art. – David Sozanski ‘19

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Culinary Arts Club by Abbeyculinaryarts - 1w ago

It was another lovely evening spent eating like royalty. There on the banks of the pond at Schartner Farms, Portsmouth Abbey students kept company with many of the best chefs in Rhode Island, happily sampling their dishes and washing them down with Granny Squibbs Iced Tea–and they were thrilled to be treated to the drink by an Abbey alumna, Kelly McShane ’05!

Group Shot

It would be nearly impossible for me to pick a favorite dish from the Chefs Collaborative.Starting out with everyone slurping down an oyster seemed to be fitting for the event–trying out something together before embarking on our own personal food journeys. My food journey consisted of trying lots of things and finding three to four items that were mind-blowingly delicious. I actually had to look up a couple of words, which I love, because I wind up learning more about different foods.I looked up what Vermont Chevron, hubbard squash and chochoyote were. At first I thought that last one might have been a typo or something, but it is actually a small ball of corn dough, like a dumpling. The hubbard squashes looked very much like a cross between a melon and a squash, and a Vermont Chevron is a type of goat.

My favorite desserts were actually some of the first items I tried. One of them was the winter squash financier. There actually seemed to be a lot of dishes featuring squash, probably because the festival was focused on the fall harvest, which I enjoyed very much since I love squash. The winter squash financier   had some very subtle spices that gave it some warmth which was complemented well by the tangy, but sweet, cranberry and the crunchy pumpkin seeds on top. Then there was also a melon and sunflower seed macaron that was easily one of the best desserts I’ve ever had. In the past, I haven’t been much on a fan of macarons because of their chewy texture,but with these macarons, it fit well with the crunchy sunflower seeds. The macaron was sweet and fruity because of the melon, but had a little bit of a crunch and salty flavor from the sunflower seeds, which made them so tasty!!!

Lastly, I’ve always been a fan of croissants, so when I saw that there was a croissant sandwich, I was so excited. There were so many flavors and textures that all blended together so well. When I took a bite of it, I was surprised to taste warm spices along with a couple of other different flavors. Come to find out, there was a pumpkin butter on the sandwich that worked so well with the turkey breast and the crisp and refreshing celery root and apple salad. 

All in all, I was really excited to come to the Chef’s Collaborative, so it was really impressive that I got more excited after I started trying all the unique foods. My expectations were high to begin with, but this certainly surpassed them. I can’t wait to see what else we do during the school year for culinary arts club!—Sarah Costa ‘19

  • Tatum
  • The crew
  • Whole Roasted Vermont Chevron
  • Pork-fat chili Buttermilk biscuits

This past weekend Culinary Club traveled to Schartner’s Farm in Exeter, Rhode Island. They were hosting “The Chefs Collaborative” where various food and restaurant businesses came together o share their food, and drinks, with a vast group of people. The environment welcomed people from various backgrounds. I enjoyed how so many different people came together at Schartner’s Farm all due to their love for food. This experience allowed me to step outside of my comfort zone and try multiple food combinations that I would have never thought I would enjoy. My personal favorite was the Chez Pascal, a croissant sandwich consisting of pastured turkey breast, pumpkin butter, and celery root and apple salad. I finished the entire sandwich and even found myself licking the remaining remnants off my fingers. The Chez Pascal was the weirdest sandwich I had ever eaten, and yet it was one of the best I have ever had. This trip to Schartner’s Farm taught me to try new things, because surprisingly you end up liking most of the things you never believed you would. –Madison Burt ‘18

  • Maddie & Tatum
  • Tallulah’s Taqueria: whole roasted Vermont Chevron
  • Nick’s on Broadway: smoked blackbird beef, buttermilk biscuits, chili vinaigrette

As soon as we passed the topiary arch, the energy of the event was evident. From the families playing field sports on the left to observers of the live band of the right, everyone seemed to be enjoying their time and at the centre of it all was the food. Set in the beautiful landscape of Schartner Farms, the Chef’s Collaborative was the opening event for the 2018-2019 Culinary Arts Club.Restaurants and chefs from all over Rhode Island gathered for this event, each offering an amazing dish. Every stand seemed to imbue their dishes own distinct taste and flavor: from classic to contemporary, everything at the event was meticulously prepared.

The event started with the initiating dish: the oyster. Greeting us at the entrance were two buckets teeming with raw oysters, the natural first dish people gravitated towards. Being an oyster lover myself, I found myself coming back for ‘just one more oyster’ several times throughout the night. Another standout was Durk’s BBQ Blackbird farm beef with smoked maitakes and onion top chimichurri over mashed potatoes. The charon the beef seemed to perfectly contrast the juicy inside and the classically done smooth mashed potatoes accompanied the meats perfectly. The maitakes also offered an extra texture the the overall dish and it was highly commendable how chef Jake Rojas was able to incorporate the mushroom into the dish so well.

Overall,the event seemed to foster an amazing sense of community over a shared love of food. From families, friends to even a bus full of school kids, the Chefs Collaborative created a truly special dining experience. –Jonathon  Susilo ‘18

  • Mrs. Bonin & Mr. Calisto
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Culinary Arts Club by Abbeyculinaryarts - 7M ago

For our first event of the Spring term, we did something a bit different than usual by gathering in the Butler’s home to make dumplings and fry dough. After learning that we would be paired up to do this, I was not overly-excited due to my previous-baking experience with a partner (sorry, Megan).

However, my attitude changed when I met Stella, a young lady from Tibet who is living with the Butlers. She said how making dumplings and frying dough are two important traditions from her country and from China. The process of doing so was very concentrated as the dough required different ingredients, mixing techniques, and shapes before it was ready to be formed into a dumpling. I was surprised to hear from Stella that in Tibet they do not measure while they are baking, instead, they taste while they cook to determine when the final product is ready. After the dumplings, we made the fried dough. My favorite part was using food color to dye our dough before frying it. My mix of yellow and red tasted just as good as it looked.

Overall, it was such a pleasure meeting Stella and learning about her culture through this dough and dumpling-making process.This was a very enjoyable and educational experience thanks to the Butlers and Stella. Thank you so much!–Michael Griffin ’18

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As a Chinese, one of the most memorable family foods for me is dumpling. Dumplings could be the entree on the New Year, and the leftover could be the breakfast for the following morning. There are innumerable types of dumplings:from meatlover to gluten-free. Although dumplings are everywhere in China, this is my first time actually making dumplings myself. Unfortunately, the majority of my dumplings came out to be disfigured and few of those survived the steamer.

Another thing we made was the fried bread. At first I thought the name meant you tiao: A traditional Chinese breakfast item resembling an elongated fried dough. So when we started to massage the dough with food coloring, I had to clarify to Mrs. Bonin that this was not you tiao. Pieces of painted dough were fried till they are golden-brown and they tasted even better than what they looked like. —Peter Liu ’19

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Last Sunday, on the 15th of April, the Portsmouth Abbey Culinary Club visited the Butler’s home in Bristol, RI. There we met Stella, a student who now attends Salve Regina University, but is originally from China. Stella showed us how to make traditional dumplings and Chinese fried dough. What I never realized until that day was how much of an art form cooking these two dishes really was.

My favorite part about cooking with Stella was learning the dumpling techniques which included making the dough, rolling and flattening the dough into small circles, and finally learning how to seal the dumplings so that the fillings would not fall out. After many attempts at trying to seal the dumplings, I had yet to perfect them the way Stella had done, but I definitely was on the right track! Thank you Stella and thank you to the Butlers for hosting us, we all had a great time. –Dan Sliney ‘18

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Culinary Arts Club by Abbeyculinaryarts - 1y ago
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When the Culinary Arts Club students can engage in the food world with one of our own, it is an even better experience. On a beautiful Sunday afternoon, we visited The Simple Greek, a delightful restaurant owned by Tony DeSisto, an alumnus of Portsmouth Abbey and brother to a faculty favorite, Ms. Allie Micheletti, who teaches Art History here. It was all delightful, from the ever helpful and generous staff (Christina, Michaela, Don, and Brett) to the clean and modern surroundings to the fresh and fabulous Greek food. We can’t thank them enough for an excellent time!

On Sunday, we went right from church to The Simple Greek. I ate a Greek yogurt on the bus, but I wish I hadn’t, since even though the bus ride was long, the service was really fast. And debating the pronunciation of “gyro” in line made the wait seem even shorter. I ordered a traditional gyro on pita with tzatziki sauce. The woman I ordered from said for our first time she thought traditional–a mix of lamb and beef–was the best option if we wanted a true gyro experience. Since I could see and smell the gyro meat slow roasting behind the counter, I already knew that was what I wanted.

I had barely bitten into my gyro when they brought us steaming hot fries. I don’t even know what was on the fries but I couldn’t stop eating them. I could barely eat half my gyro because of how big it was and the amount of fries I inhaled, but the meat and tzatziki flavors were so impactful that I can remember how that first bite tasted, even now. As we ate, they brought around samples of Greek yogurt from their yogurt bar. The Greek yogurt I had on the bus paled in comparison. Their yogurt, combined with Greek honey, dark chocolate, or berries, was so rich and tangy that it surprised me. I had three of the samples, and my standards for Greek yogurt have been significantly raised.

After we ate, the employees showed around behind the counter. First, I was shown how they prepare and cook their steak and chicken. Then, we got to try and shave the meat off of the roasting spits. You could use a knife or an electric saw thing that was pretty sick. I cut the meat really unevenly, but I think the other students got it evened out. Then, we went around back and got to prepare fries. We peeled potatoes and used the fry cutter. I don’t know what the employees usually do to prevent this, but the peeled potatoes are very slippery, and we may have dropped several. Getting to see around the kitchen was fun, especially since the employees were so nice and welcoming. I especially liked going to a place like The Simple Greek because we were able to see techniques that we could easily do on our own—and get amazing food from it. –Ella Souvannavong ‘18

As a dedicated day student at Portsmouth Abbey, I spend a good portion of my life shuttling desperate boarders to and from Chipotle, Nacho Mama’s, and countless other places for quick dinners during our busy days. The first thing that I thought when we walked into The Simple Greek was “this seems just like Chipotle,” and the first thing I thought when we started eating was “but this is so much better.” Tommy and I both spent our whole time in line to order practicing how we would pronounce “gyro” without embarrassing ourselves completely, and by the time I was building mine, I had ordered every possible topping in a panic. This ended up not being a mistake. Everything was so fresh and so simple tasting together that I didn’t once regret the gyro I inhaled that was roughly the size of my head.

This was almost as fun as the trip we took behind the counter. Peeling potatoes and slicing them brought me back to my early days of picking thyme and peeling carrots at my summer job. My favorite part by far was learning how to shave the meat when it was on the rotating spits. This was no easy task, and it was more than generous for them to allow us to ruin several servings worth of food in the name of education. I don’t think that I have a future in that, but no worries; I know I’ll be back for the baklava and the rice pudding.–Sydell Bonin ‘18

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The last dinner we share is always a little sad because we say goodbye to our graduating Seniors after this. That sadness, however, is tempered a bit by a fabulous meal–sharing good food together can only be a happy experience. This was provided by Chef Michael MacCartney of Jamestown Fish, whose menu delighted all present. It was a wonderful send-off to our two founding members, Kevin Jiang and Christine Gu, whose presence and participation will be sorely missed, along with the other Seniors: Johanna, Hannah, Amber, Anna, Matias, Jennifer, and Oliver. 

I’m sure the salty, classically Newport patrons of Jamestown Fish were confused seeing a group of twelve totally-not-related kids coming in to enjoy an afternoon meal on a Sunday afternoon. However, after sitting down with our carefully selected menus and plenty of warm bread, it felt like we were the only people on this culinary craft headed to flavor town. Sorry! That’s where we went. Surrounded by ocean-y blues and port windows, our table seemed to turn into a gently rocking schooner. Our voyage started with three fresh oysters, which were perfectly sweet and absolutely not as many as I could’ve eaten. Next, the Peekytoe crab salad arrived and took me completely by surprise. I had been expecting an overpowering crab flavor, but was instead faced with sweet shredded crab that perfectly played with the tart Meyer lemon and some biting fennel. Needless to say, this didn’t last long on any of our plates. The risotto primavera was a very aesthetic green, thanks to a subtle basil pesto and Carnaroli rice that didn’t at all suffer the biggest risotto risk: sticky gumminess, which was certainly the result of a hefty amount of stirring. After this, the black sea bass in a pleasant vegetable dashi broth was served. The morel mushroom reminded me at first of small, squishy brains, but they weren’t! The turnip was a nice balance to the strong earthiness of the morels and the fresh simplicity of the sea bass. Finally, our last stop on the journey: a smattering of desserts we reluctantly shared. My favorite by far was the chocolate cake with the ganache and vanilla ice cream, which was dessert-y but not at all cloying, and the ice cream was smooth and not your average grocery-store scoop. Sadly, we set sail back to port, and abandoned the galley for our red minibus to carry us swiftly over the Jamestown Bridge and back to Portsmouth Abbey. –Sydell Bonin ’18

Salt pond oysters were the best dish to start off the meal. I used to eat Yuzu back home frequently, but I never expected a combination of yuzu and oyster. The sweetness of yuzu made the salty and fishy smell go away. I wish I could have tried more than just three, but three were enough for other dishes were coming. Peekytoe crab was decorated nicely with green and yellow sauces on it: Meyer lemon, fennel and arugula tasted delicious with the crab. When I first got the risotto primavera, I was kind of shocked by the color. Because it was just full of green, I–who really hates vegetables–was afraid to taste it.  I never had a dish that was so tasty made just out of vegetables! The rice was really soft and went well with basil pesto. The sauce tasted amazing, and it was some kind of sauce that I have never tasted before. Morel mushrooms with the black sea bass was a new experience for me. I usually love mushrooms, but this was a new type of mushroom that I tasted. It was really delicious to take some piece of fish, the mushroom, and drink the soup together. The best part of the meal was the desserts. Even though we all had different kinds of desserts, I was glad that we all enjoyed sharing eachother’s. As we tried each other’s desserts with bright smiles, I realized that I will never forget this moment where we shared our happiness with great food and amazing people. As James Beard quotes, “Food is our common ground, a universal experience.” –Jennifer Park ‘17

For what was sadly our final Culinary Arts trip of the year, we went to Jamestown Fish for a truly beautiful five-course meal, centered unsurprisingly around seafood. Though I have tried oysters in the past, those experiences were not particularly enjoyable, so honestly I was a little disappointed when I saw that the first item on the menu was “Salt Pond Oysters” with yuzu and caviar. When the oysters arrived, they were plated beautifully with ice on a sea glass dish, and I decided that there was no way that something that looked so good could taste bad. When I tried the first one I found that they tasted a bit like ocean water, but had lovely, light citrus notes from the yuzu. My second favorite part of the meal was the highly anticipated “Selection of Desserts;” as soon as we saw the menu we started speculating about what these desserts could possibly be, and when they were finally presented, they were far and above more delicious than anything that we imagined. I was given a little round golden brown cake topped with toasted almonds, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The cake itself had a mild almond flavor and the outside of the cake was almost crunchy with caramelized sugar like a brulée. Though the cake was dense, it was..

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