Camille’s Restaurant Named ‘Top Mafia Restaurant’ in America

Some things never die.

Like wiseguys in a good witness protection program, or vendettas. And, apparently, the longtime Mafia legends associated with one of Providence's best-known Federal Hill eateries.

So when the food-minded folks at The Daily Meal, a popular food-centric Web site named "The Top Mobster Restaurants Around the Country," Providence's Camille's made the short list.

The landmark Italian restaurant keeps company with a dozen of the most notorious wiseguy haunts in the country, from Chicago's Green Mill (think Al Capone) to Fort Lauderdale's Cafe Martorano (owned by the nephew of former South Philly mobster "Long John" Martorano).

Author Valaer Murray's take on Providence's contender?

"Hipsters can check out a real speakeasy in Providence, RI - Camille's, which has seen many a famous face, whether a made man or a Hollywood leading man," she writes. Murray reminds of Camille's early days in 1914, and its rise to celebrity for making illegal booze and serving it to customers during Prohibition. "In addition to Presidents and celebrities," writes Murray, "it has been visited by members of the New England mafia, including the late Providence mob boss Raymond L.S. Patriarca."

Penne Rigate With Broccoli

Serves 4


1 1/2 pounds broccoli, washed, stems discarded, cut into bite-size florets

1 pound penne rigate

3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

2/3 cup finely grated pecorino cheese, plus extra for serving

Freshly ground pepper
Bring a big pot of water to a boil. Add a good handful of salt (about 1/4 cup), enough that you can taste it. Set a fine strainer in the sink. When the water comes to a boil, add the broccoli and wait until the water returns to a boil. Add the pasta and set the timer to the number of minutes recommended on the box. When the timer rings, drain the penne and broccoli in the colander, then dump them into a large serving bowl. Add the olive oil and mix well with a wooden spoon so that the pasta is coated and the bits of broccoli are well-distributed throughout. Add the cheese and stir well until you have a nice, green-speckled sauce. Sprinkle with a little extra cheese, and add some pepper.

Recipe: Classic Italian meatballs

1/3 pound ground beef

1/3 pound ground veal

1/3 pound ground pork*

3/4 cup parmesan cheese, divided

1/2 cup bread crumbs

1/4 cup heavy cream

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon chopped parsley, divided

1/4 cup fresh basil, chopped

1/2 pound penne, cooked according to package instructions

1 1/2 cups of prepared marinara sauce, simmered over low heat until warm

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non-stick vegetable cooking spray. Set aside.

Heat olive oil over medium-low heat and gently saute the onion until turning golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook to sweat out the strong flavor and sweeten. Remove from heat and cool.

In a medium bowl, mix together sauteed onions and garlic and ground beef, veal, pork, 1/2 cup parmesan, bread crumbs, cream, eggs, salt, pepper, 1/4 cup parsley and basil. Avoid squeezing the mixture too tightly or the meatballs will be tough. Divide mixture into 8 equal portions, about 2 ounces by weight, or roughly the size of a golf ball.

Place the meatballs on prepared pan and bake until cooked through and browned, about 20 minutes.

To serve, mix together warm penne and marinara. Add meatballs.

Divide penne and sauce between four plates. Top each plate with two meatballs and garnish with remaining teaspoon of parsley.

Serves 4.

Nutrition information

Per serving: 714 calories, 39% calories from fat, 31 g fat, 12 g saturated fat, 200 mg cholesterol, 65 g carbohydrates, 43 g protein, 1,296 mg sodium, 5 g fiber

In the rubble: a secret tunnel, forgotten restaurants, mob memories

The last time I dined at one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants in the city, Pho 97, I noticed that a few storefronts to the east, the original entrance to the long-shuttered Vista Theater -- a 1932 movie house at 26th and Independence Avenue -- was slightly ajar. Peeking in, I could see the original concession stand. The candy cases, like the theater, had been long empty. After a massive fire on May 12, there's nothing left of the old movie theater or the storefront that had been occupied, in the 1960s and '70s, by the notorious Villa Capri restaurant.
No, not the 50-year-old Villa Capri still owned by Tony Scudiero at 8126 Metcalf, but the East Side venue next to the Vista Theater, where Cork Civella and Carl DeLuna were secretly recorded by FBI agents on June 2, 1978, discussing "the Genius." This meeting later inspired a subplot in the Martin Scorsese film, Casino.
The cause of the blaze is still undetermined, but the fire did reveal a long-forgotten secret in the basement of the theater building. According to Northeast News publisher Mike Bushnell, there was a 60-foot tunnel -- 4-foot-by-4-foot passage running, from west to east, the length of the building.
"It ran from under the old Villa Capri restaurant out to the parking lot where there had been another building at an earlier time," Bushnell says.
No one seems to know why there would be a secret tunnel under the building, but the Vista Theater opened in 1932, the year before the repeal of Prohibition. Was the tunnel used to store illegal hootch? The Vista Theater stopped showing films in 1958. Tony Scudiero, whose brother sold the Independence Avenue Villa Capri to an in-law in the 1960s, wasn't aware of any tunnels under the building
The good news is that a standing firewall left the stores on the west side of the Vista Theater unscathed. But Pho 97 has not yet reopened for business.