Neighborhood Champion Maria DeCarvalho

Meet Maria DeCarvalho, Neighborhood Champion

Maria DeCarvalho shared three wonderful local family businesses.

La Arepa owner Nohemi Rodriguez and her son Bernardo Garcia
  • La Arepa, 582 Smithfield Avenue, Pawtucket 

Nohemi Rodriguez grew up in Valencia, Venezuela and she and her son Bernardo Garcia bring traditions of both beauty and deliciousness to their wonderful restaurant, La Arepa, located in the Fairlawn neighborhood of Pawtucket.  

Arepas are sweet corn cakes filled with meat, cheese, beans and vegetables that Nohemi and Bernardo began selling out of a food truck in 2000.  They are delicious, and their biggest seller is the Papellon Arepa, available with chicken or shredded beef. The restaurant now occupies a Pawtucket store front elegantly decorated to evoke Nohemi’s home town. You can’t help but notice how cheerful and well-kept it is — a perfect place for lunch or dinner, or to throw a party!

Bernardo says running your own business requires patience but he loves it — and he and his Mom appreciate how cozy Rhode Island is, and how many small business there are here.  His personal favorite: Cured Collection, located at Providence Place Mall, where he goes for streetwear.

Italian Corner owners Massimo and Paola Dellolio
  • Italian Corner, 10 Boyd Avenue, East Providence

Massimo and Paola Dellolio make legendary Italian sandwiches but it doesn’t stop there.  You can also visit the Italian Corner for homemade Italian soups, pastas and sauces, cured meats and cheeses and every ingredient an antipasto might require.  If you’re lucky, you can find yourself at Massimo’s table on a Saturday night, when their restaurant serves his cooking.  

When you visit the deli counter, Paola greets you with, “Senora?” and it’s just a little bit like being in Italy. She and Massimo dedicate themselves to preserving the best of the small Italian towns they came from, and they offer advice and encouragement as well as general yumminess.

You can also find everything you need for any pasta, polenta or risotto you want to cook up. 

What do Paola and Massimo love?  Being close to the water, as they were in their home towns.  They love helping their customers learn about and appreciate authentic Italian cooking and watching them bite into their famous sandwiches.  And when they hang up their aprons and go out to dinner themselves, they head towards Chomp in Warren and Nacho Mama in Bristol.

Reliable Gold owners Sarah Abeles and Rena
  • Reliable Gold, Wayland Square, Providence

At Reliable Gold jewelers in Wayland Square you can find both one-of-a-kind, heirloom-quality treasures from the past and fun, fresh new looks created by the young jewelers Sarah Abeles and her Mom Rena have discovered. Rena and Sarah work with their team to make sure their beautiful Wayland Square shop has something for every occasion.  Because they’ve carefully chosen each item in their store, and because they give each customer individual time and attention, they can help them find exactly the right piece for the person and the moment. 

Sarah and Rena treasure both the history of this family-owned business founded in 1934 and the opportunity it gives them to embody their family values of trust and respect in their relationships with vendors, customers and each other.  They love the sense of community and continuity that doing business here in Rhode Island for so long has given them — and Sarah says the breathtaking architecture, active arts community, wonderful restaurants and beaches don’t hurt either!

They love supporting other women-owned businesses, especially their neighbors on Wayland Square, like CORE Fitness and Bloom Back Flowers.