WOONSOCKET, RI - When you walk into Ciro's Tavern, you might think you just hopped the pond and landed in London.
"Ciro's is just an old authentic English tavern," said co-owner Matt Moylan. "We try to go back with the history of where taverns came out where they welcome many travelers, so when you see the warm colors, the fireplace and the comfort foods that go around it, that kind of carries on that tradition."
This Woonsocket, Rhode Island building has been many restaurants throughout the years, and was recently taken over by Matt, his wife Jill and Jill's sister, Gina Savini. They set out to create the kind of place where customers are treated like family.
"It's a place where you can come by yourself. You're never alone when you're at Ciros," Gina said. "It sounds so cliché, but it's true. You always know the bartender or server. I'm always here or my sister or my brother-in-law, Matt, so you can come in by yourself and you always have someone to talk to."
While you're feeling the love from the staff, you'll have no trouble finding all of the foods you love on the menu, like grilled pizzas loaded up with sausage, meatballs and ricotta cheese; classic pub fare like fish and chips; and some house made creations like Cheesy Potato Nachos.
"They're delicious," Gina raved. "They're smothered like normal nachos with shredded cheese, scallions, bacon and our chipotle sour cream. So, it's kind of like nachos but with French fries instead."
Of course, you can have regular nachos too, but theirs are anything but ordinary, loaded up with plenty of pulled pork and purple slaw.
"Pulled Pork Nachos are our homemade fried nacho chips topped with our house made pulled pork. There's also some cheese on that, and then our homemade purple cole slaw, and a drizzle of chipotle cream on top," said Gina. "I think it's the perfect combo of salty and sweet."
Pulled pork is also piled high on top of Ciro's BBQ Burger.
"Not for the vegetarian," she stated. "It's our eight ounce burger, cooked to your liking, and then it's smothered with cheddar cheese, pulled pork and bacon... You might need an extra napkin for that one, but it is delicious."
While you may have trouble unhinging your jaw to eat the burger, nothing truly tests your taste buds like the Eddie Wing Challenge. Named for the creator, who also happens to be the fry cook, the Eddie Wing Challenge is not for the faint of heart. Customers have to consume eight fiery wings coated in a secret pepper sauce, without the aid of dipping sauces or sodas.
"Most people try to play tough, but you know they take a couple bites and it hits you after. They physically start to sweat and cry," described Gina.
"I have had people come and want to beat the challenge so bad they have these myths of wearing less clothes, wetting their hair; whatever they can do to cool the body off while they're eating it," Matt said.
Even the preparation of the wings causes quite the stir.
"If a drop of water hits the pan, the whole kitchen has to clear out because the aroma from it. Literally you cannot take a breath," said Gina. "You just have to step out and everyone is coughing and crying - in a funny way so the customers realize what's happening - but probably a little terrifying as well."
Meat lovers will marvel at the options at Ciro's. There's the Tavern Tips served in a stout demi glaze, or the Surf and Turf which pairs grilled sirloin with a skewer of jumbo shrimp. But the must-order on the menu is the Signature Steak Sandwich. Far from your typical shaved steak sub, this bad boy has the reputation for being one of the greatest grinders in all of Woonsocket.
"I think we have the best steak sandwich in town," Gina bragged. "It's a thick cut of sirloin smothered with American cheese, mushrooms and onions. So you're getting an actual piece of sirloin - like a full steak. You're biting into that thing like you just ordered a sirloin and you're eating it with your hands."
Since Gina and Jill grew up working in their parents' Italian restaurant just down the street, there are plenty of Italian dishes here, like creamy Chicken Penne A La Vodka and a sumptuous plate of Chicken Parm layered with ricotta and eggplant.
Another lesson Gina learned from their Italian restaurant experience, is portion size.
"We are known for our large portions," she said. "People do take a lot of leftovers home, but people also know to come with a big appetite. So depending on where you are during the day you're either eating a lot of food and being really full, or you have plenty to take home for the next day."
With prices all under twenty bucks, you'll find Ciro's Tavern to be one PHANtastic MEAL DEAL.
You can find Ciro's Tavern at 42 Cherry Street in Woonsocket, and online at cirostavern.com.
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