The screens of the old Castle Theater on Chalkstone Avenue may have gone dark, but Billy and Christine Manzo put on quite a show this week for the opening of their second Federal Hill Pizza location in the old movie house.
Pizzas in seemingly endless varieties, deep-fried meatballs, trays of eggplant parm, calzones, and sweets like coco pane and cannoli were laid on in a generous buffet for a grand opening celebration, accompanied by generously flowing beer samples from among the more than 20 brews on tap (including a house lager and a couple of selections from local Revival Brewing).
A boisterous atmosphere anticipated what’s likely to be the norm once the paying customers start arriving: in addition to a small cafe takeout counter, the Chalkstone Avenue local features two large, high-ceilinged rooms (the old twin theaters, in fact) — the bar and wood-fired ovens on one side, and casual seating on picnic tables on the other. It’s a convivial setup where you could easily imagine groups of friends gathering on the bar side for pizza and beer to watch or mom, dad, the kids, and grandparents gathering at a picnic table in the dining room for a family-style feast.
The decor reflects both the building’s former and current muses: pizza-themed mockups of old theater posters along with pizza pans and artfully arranged pallets. Old movie screens still peek out from behind black curtains. It all still has an air of a work in progress, but with food this good being served, who’s really looking at the scenery?
Federal Hill Pizza
1039 Chalkstone Avenue
Providence, RI 02908
(All photos © Bob Curley)