Ask a Native: Bobby Farrelly
A lot of your movies seem to take place in Rhode Island.
We always try to include a bit of Rhode Island in our films because we’re so fond of our childhood memories. Some people think our most autobiographical film was Outside Providence. Sadly, I think it was Dumb & Dumber.
Filming in RI is great for a lot of reasons. There are an incredible variety of settings all within a short distance of one another—cityscape, rural, bucolic, industrial, coastal beauty, Newport high society, etc. Tax benefits are offered, talented crews are readily available, and there’s an abundance of great restaurants and night life to entertain the troops.
Do you often get back home?
I live in the Boston area now but still go back to Rhode Island at least once every couple of weeks, mainly because it’s home to most of my favorite restaurants.
Where’s your favorite date spot?
On my first date with my wife, we went to Angelo’s restaurant on Federal Hill (141 Atwells Ave., Providence, 401-621-8171). They serve gourmet "peasant" food, mainly red sauce dishes, spaghetti and meatballs. The bread comes from the bakery down the street, always served with a firm crust. There’s usually a waiting line and it’s not unusual to be seated at a table with people you don’t know. The food is delicious and very inexpensive. Nowadays my wife and I still dine a lot on the Hill but our favorite restaurant is downtown at Capriccio’s (2 Pine St., Providence, 401-421-1320). The waiters here know food like Johnny Pesky knows baseball. The backroom piano lounge is great for people watching—plenty of wiseguys, ladies of the night, and other Rhode Island dignitaries. If you go for dinner, make sure that Gino makes his flaming shrimp special as an appetizer. From there, order anything on the menu. You can’t go wrong.
What’s your take on the local food?
There are a few esoteric delicacies that one can only get in Rhode Island. Del’s Lemonade and Narragansett clamcakes quickly come to mind. The most bizarre food fetish here is New York System wieners (20 Plainfield St., Providence, 401-621-9500). Don’t be fooled by the "New York" part, they don’t serve them anywhere in the Empire state. They’re probably illegal. But if you’re in Rhody and you’re feeling brave (or drunk), make sure you sample a few of these "bellybusters". Order at least two (but no more than a half dozen). Don’t be concerned with the fluorescent orange color of the wiener, or how the chef lines the buns up his tatooed forearms as he prepares your meal. Just make sure you order them "all the way" and get a large coffee milk as a chaser. You’ll be hooked.
Where do you typically send tourists?
They don’t call Rhode Island the Ocean State for nothing. It’s home to some fantastic beaches. If you want to enjoy a quiet day at a beautiful beach I recommend Second Beach in Newport. If you’re a fan of people watching, and you like big waves and big hair, Scarborough Beach is the call.
Any tips on fitting in like a local?
Rhode Island, as you know, is the smallest state in the country. With this distinction comes a bit of psychological baggage. We know that, as states go, we’re not the big man on campus or the prom queen. And that’s okay. We are who we are. I think it’s for this reason that Rhode Islanders embrace people who are different. If you’re not from Rhode Island you might have a hard time understanding our love affair with ex-mayor Buddy Cianci. Sure he’s had a few transgressions, but none that we consider unforgivable. We love Buddy because, through good times and through bad, he’s entertained us. He’s been a character extraordinaire….and we love characters.
What do you miss most?
What I miss most about living in Rhody are the people. Rhode Islanders have an incredible sense of humor, though very sarcastic. People there tend to laugh at their troubles and even more so at their neighbor’s troubles. Ballbusting is a refined art form and is used not-so-much in a hostile way but as a show of affection.