Thayer Street is loud — filled with the chatter of students and visitors, the whooshing of buses en route to the tunnel and the never-ending music drifting out of Johnny Rocket's and Baja's.
But a stone's throw from Thayer sits Ives Street, a tranquil escape from the chaos of finals period on campus. Packed with a variety of eateries, Ives runs parallel to and east of Thayer, about a 10-minute walk from the Main Green.
Because the number of stores on Ives pales in comparison to that on Thayer, it can be easy to miss the gems found there. In comparison to the ever-crowded East Side Pockets and Chipotle, eateries on Ives are quietly empty, providing a relaxing experience and good food.
A tour heading south on Ives begins with Victoria's Pizzeria, between Power and Williams streets. The restaurant resides in a tiny wooden house with peeling teal paint. Two small iron tables sit in front of it, facing Ives. A sign details the daily special: two slices of cheese pizza and a drink for less than $4. Inside, two large signs indicate that smoking is not allowed. This rule does not seem to apply to the owner, who sat smoking in the corner on a recent afternoon as he barked into a telephone in Arabic. The cozy interior smelled like homemade marinara sauce and cigarettes, punctuated by the sound of the rolling pin hitting the counter as the pizza crust is rolled. In a modern touch, the main sign hanging outside advertises a free Wi-Fi connection.
A couple of shops down is East Side Creamery, which has sat at the corner of Williams and Ives for about three years. Inside, the small shop has four small tables, each decorated with a different mismatched tablecloth. The menu includes Rhode Island favorites like Del's Lemonade, Portuguese sloppy joes and Italian sandwiches. Sometimes, if you hang around near the 10 p.m. closing time, employees offer free donuts and other treats.
The little creamery also boasts "Rhode Island's best wieners." The "traditional Rhode Island wiener," as described by the cook at the counter, is a hot weiner topped with mustard, meat sauce and a celery garnish. For $5, you can buy two wieners with the works, a bag of chips and a soda.
On a recent Tuesday lunch break, the restaurant exuded a strong sense of community, with employees greeting customers by name. The woman at the counter relayed her Thanksgiving adventures with Michael Jackson's Wii game to a man who just stopped in to say hello.
No meal at East Side Creamery is complete without a scoop of their most popular ice cream flavor, Graham Central Station, which tastes like a sugary cinnamon graham cracker without the crunchy texture. Hand-packed pints are also available for purchase. Other flavors include Moose Tracks and Witch's Brew, a mix of candy corn and other candies.
After a friendly "Have a good one," from the counter person, the next stop is the Ugly American, a restaurant directly across the street. This is one of the newest eateries on Ives, evidenced by the sparkling blue and orange awning and the bright orange rustic letters. Ugly American, which opened this summer, boasts freshly cut fries. Their menu also includes hot dogs, burgers and wings.
Toward the southern end of Ives Street, on the corner of Fremont Street, is Silver Star Bakery, a traditional Portuguese bakery. As the door opens, the sweet and warm scents mingle with the crisp Providence air. The glass counter is filled with a large variety of pastries, such as baklava, cannolis and chocolate eclairs. Their most popular pastries, according to the baker with flour-dusted hands, are traditional Portuguese treats: queijadas de nata, or custard cups, and Portuguese sweet bread.
Ives Street has many places to appease a sweet tooth and get a taste of something different from dining hall fare. It is a quiet little pocket close to campus — far less crowded than Thayer Street on a Friday afternoon.