Providence’s Oberlin Lands on Bon Appetit’s Hot Ten

Move over, Boston. The Rhode Island wine bar scored a spot on the short list.

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Sometimes, you need to stop overthinking and just go with your gut. That’s the takeaway from today’s news that Providence wine bar Oberlin scored the No. 7 spot on Bon Appetit‘s Hot 10.

Bon App editor Andrew Knowlton called Oberlin chef Benjamin Sukle “one of the most talented young chefs in the country,” noting his “sixth-sense for surprising ingredients.” The 2008 Johnson & Wales graduate worked at the now-shuttered La Laiterie under Matt Jennings, before the latter chef moved back to Boston to open Townsman. But Knowlton was “on the fence” about Sukle’s first venture, Birch, a tasting menu spot with obsessively intricate dishes.

In January, Sukle and his wife, Heidi, opened Italian-inspired Oberlin as a neighborhood-y counterpoint to all of that fussiness. While Birch is white-napkin, Oberlin has more of a hipster vibe and is a little loud, with stools frequently scraping against the tile floor, the Rolling Stones and Radiohead blasting through the space and an open kitchen cranking out dishes made for sharing.

Knowlton praised Oberlin’s crudo, often made with bycatch from Rhode Island waters, and house-made pasta dishes, like gnocchi with littlenecks, and pici with pork ragu.

“Here was a chef, cooking with his gut, in a place I could come back to night after night,” Knowton wrote.

On the bar side, he called out Oberlin’s “surprising” sake list. It is also one of the few restaurants in the area that constantly keeps natural wines on its by-the-glass menu.

The Hot 10 Best New Restaurants list—which puts Atlanta’s Staplehouse at number one and D.C.’s Bad Saint at number two—was whittled down from 50 finalists announced earlier this month. Somerville’s Juliet, Cambridge’s Shepard, and Drifters’ Wife in Portland, Maine, were included in the top 50, but Oberlin is the only New England representative on the list

Next time, Boston. This year, L’il Rhody gets the spotlight.