Foglia, which is Italian for “leaf,” is the perfect name for chef Peter Carvelli’s innovative restaurant located in the heart of historic Bristol. The leaf motif was also the first thing I noticed when visiting the intimate 29-seat fine dining establishment, offering a subtle yet elegant nod to what makes Foglia unique: its vegetable-forward, fully plant-based menu.
Prior to opening the restaurant, Carvelli, who still works as a lawyer three days a week, was creating a name for himself within the food community by hosting plant-based pop-up dinners in Providence and Newport, as well as cooking as a private chef. Foglia officially opened its doors last summer, and has been delighting guests ever since. Carvelli strives to incorporate as much local produce as possible into his menus, sourcing ingredients from nearby farms including High Tide Mushroom Farm in Coventry, Interstellar Microgreens in West Warwick, and Long Lane Farm in Warren.
As someone who isn’t a vegan eater but has an affinity for a diverse range of vegetables, I couldn’t wait to experience Carvelli’s food firsthand. To fully immerse myself in this culinary journey, I opted for the five-course tasting menu, available nightly with rotating specials.
While snacking on an amuse bouche of Chickpea Fries – a pleasingly crispy appetizer served with beet ketchup and roasted garlic aioli – I sipped one of their specialty cocktails. The Cozy Fire, made with Woodford Reserve, sweet vermouth, orange and cranberry bitters, and cherry and ginger ale, set the tone for the expansive palate to come.
The first two courses showcased two vegetables elevated in uniquely flavorful contexts. The BBQ Carrots, which Carvelli explains uses the entire carrot, features the starring veggie in the form of fried peels and a smoked puree, with salsa verde made with the green carrot tops, as opposed to traditional parsley. Seared Roman Artichoke Hearts – which ended up being my favorite dish of the night – are served with black olive caramel, Kalamata olives, and garlic panko in a combination that’s surprising and spectacular.
Next came a plate of Ravioli with Pink Sauce, filled with tofu ricotta. The house-made pasta was cooked perfectly and the sauce was creamy and delicious – if I didn’t know any better, I wouldn’t have guessed the dish was vegan. To cleanse the palate before the fourth and main course, the kitchen brought out house-made blood orange sorbet – a simple yet refreshing delight that adds to the fine dining feel of Foglia.
Though already satiated, I was ready when the Lentil Shepherd’s Pie arrived, made with a wholesome medley of tender lentils, carrots, peas, and corn in a savory vegetable broth, topped with whipped mashed potatoes. The flavors were rich and comforting, and the lentils provided a nice meaty texture to the dish.
A grand finale of Baked Alaska was both beautifully presented and satisfyingly decadent. A chocolate cake base with house-made vegan cinnamon and vanilla ice cream was topped with a toasted eggless meringue. I couldn’t think of a better way to round out the evening of creative fare.
Whether vegan or just a lover of vegetables, Foglia is a must-visit for any foodie. Carvelli not only reimagines plant-based with sumptuous takes on ordinary ingredients but does so in an environment infused with warm hospitality.
31 State Street, Bristol • 401-253-1195
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