Bob and Timmy’s Grilled Pizza, Providence, R.I.
No matter where you go in this country, it’s almost a sure thing that you’re going to find a new style of pizza there. In New York, you have the thin, foldable style of pizza that some New Yorkers (Will Palaszczuk, looking in your direction) swear is the only way to eat pizza. In Chicago, you’ve got the deep dish style. In St. Louis, ultra-thin Provel cheese-topped pizza is king, while California will throw anything on the pie and Connecticut puts out apizza, which uses pecorino romano over mozzarella. There’s even a Quad-Cities style of pizza, which I think just means cheese and toppings smothered in grease on cardboard and cut into strips. I might get killed at work for this, but man, our “pizza” sucks.
In Rhode Island, however, the pizza doesn’t suck, and the way they do it is the way most of us do hamburgers and hot dogs. They throw the dough on the grill, and one of the best at it is Bob and Timmy’s Legendary Grilled Pizza, which is as much a part of Providence culture as coffee milk (I’ll explain another day). Located downtown in the capital of the Ocean State, it’s become a major destination in Providence because of just how good its grilled pies are.
The first thing that makes the grilled pie different is that on most pies, there isn’t any sauce. Instead, the dough is coated in olive oil and grilled before any toppings are added. All toppings come while the pizza sits on the grill, which makes for a somewhat slow melting process, but a nice amalgamation of flavor. In fact, the dough is so good that you can eat it without toppings, which I did for a slice when I pulled the toppings off to see how it would taste. The answer? Really good.
But the fresh toppings really take Bob and Timmy’s to the next level. Everything they use comes in fresh each day, and when you’re having something such as the spinach and mushroom pie that I ordered, that’s an absolute must. Come to think of it, that’s another thing that makes Bob and Timmy’s so good: each pie has so few ingredients that each one is allowed to stand and shine on its own. The spinach and mushroom pie lists seven ingredients, and three are cheeses in the form of Parmesan, Romano and feta cheese.
Yes, that’s right, feta cheese on a pizza. The traditional mozzarella tends not to be used in New England, in favor of a blend of Parmesan and Romano. But here, the Greek goat cheese is added, which provides a salty taste and a crumbly texture, both of which work fantastically with the spinach and mushrooms on the pizza. Quite honestly, I’ve discovered those are two of the best toppings on pizza are spinach and mushrooms, and when you throw feta on there, it’s even better. Adam Carolla might think there is never a situation where goat cheese belongs on a pizza, but I think Adam Carolla’s an idiot. Goat cheese definitely belongs on some pizzas, and this is one of them.
Outside of that one pizza, Bob and Timmy’s serves several fine combinations of ingredients, most of which do not involve tomato sauce. On the ones that do, it’s pomodoro sauce, a chunkier tomato sauce rather than the normal pureed marinara.
By straying from both the traditional way to make pizza and the normal toppings one would expect on a pizza, Bob and Timmy’s has made itself into a must-visit should you find yourself in Rhode Island. It might be the only time you ever see grill marks on pizza dough, and there’s something about that that just really works.
Time to go: Lunch or dinner. It’s pizza, and you’re only eating cold pizza if it’s breakfast.
Wait during my visit: None. Just because it’s popular doesn’t always mean a long wait, as it is tucked away a little and you have to know where you’re going.
Location: Bob and Timmy’s can be found at 32 Spruce Street in Providence. The restaurant also has a location in Smithfield.
Parking: I wouldn’t and didn’t. Providence (and New England in general) is not very car-friendly, so parking is very difficult. I ended up walking from Providence’s train station, which I also don’t recommend. Basically, I’m not sure of the best way to get here.
Cost: All grilled pizzas can be had for under $15, with some coming closer to that number than others.
Website: Bob and Timmy’s
Specialty items: Grilled pizza