Arts & Culture

Local food truck voted best fried food in Rhode Island

Citizen Wing offers beer-battered seasonal menu, prizes creativity, unique takes on classic dishes

By
Staff Writer
Thursday, December 1, 2016

In this month’s edition of Rhode Island Monthly, Citizen Wing, a food truck based in Providence, was given the “Best Fried Stuff” award. Citizen Wing prides itself on creativity, updating the menu seasonally and battering much of its food in beer from a local brewery before frying it.

Citizen Wing, a food truck serving the greater Providence community, received the “Best Fried Stuff” award in the most recent issue of Rhode Island Monthly. The quirky vendor is known for its fried chicken wings, along with other staples such as po’ boy sandwiches, french fries and chicken and waffles.

The company was started in spring 2014 under the direction of chef Nick Lefebvre and his business partner, Amy Lavoie.

“The food truck and its menu sprung from my desire to do something different,” Lefebvre said. “There were no other fried chicken-centered food trucks out there at the time. We wanted to build a brand that would be fresh and viable years into the future.”

After attending a community culinary school and working as a sous chef at Portafino’s in Warwick, Lefebvre enrolled at Johnson and Wales University. While working as a caterer, he came across the food truck that would later become Citizen Wing. The truck “was different from anything else I’d ever seen. We really built the brand around the truck,” Lefebvre said.

Citizen Wing’s menu includes a core ensemble of fried food, along with rotating seasonal options. “We are constantly trying to do different things and explore our options. We tried to build a brand that could evolve over time while still keeping our core values,” Lefebvre said. The chicken and waffles, for example, is served with a scoop of cheddar cheese ice cream in lieu of the traditional pat of butter.

“We get to bring variety to the streets. A lot of where we appear is at festivals with other food trucks, where people can pick and choose what they want from each truck,” Lavoie said. “We keep things interesting to stand out of the crowd.”

The food truck batters much of its fried food with beer from Foolproof Brewery in Pawtucket, and it appears frequently at festivals hosted by the brewery.

For now, the company’s sole truck is manned by Lefebvre, Lavoie and hired hands, but Citizen Wing hopes to expand in the future.

“Ultimately we hope to grow and see what the future brings us — maybe open up a restaurant at some point,” said Lavoie, who handles much of the company’s logistical operations such as ordering supplies and booking events.

“If we ever had a restaurant, we would have to be more balanced, but the food truck allows us to be more creative and do things like build an entire recipe around a fun ingredient,” Lefebvre said.

In the short term, Citizen Wing hopes to expand the number of locations at which it can appear. Until recently, Providence regulations on mobile vendors made it difficult for food trucks like Citizen Wing to set up shop in a lot of places, including around the Brown community. But recent changes to those laws opened a lot of doors for Citizen Wing. “We never know what to expect year by year,” Lavoie said. “We’re always rolling with the punches.”

Still, the logistical difficulties do not bother Lefebvre all that much. “The best part, for me, is the creativity,” he said. “We’ve always been happy to be different.”