Exploring Providence’s New PVDonuts Location: A Sweet Transformation With a Bitter Aftertaste

by Victor Martelle
Updated:

Providence’s PVDonuts has been around since 2014 and has had little competition in the artisan donut community, making it one of the most popular places around. It wasn’t until June of 2023 where they announced a temporary closing and their intentions to away from their little spot on Ives street and open new doors on Wickenden. Only about a month later in late July, they announced their reopening at this new location.

Come late August, a month after their reopening, I had decided it was time to visit. What greeted me something completely different. This was actually a nicely sized storefront. Indeed, remembering the previous location on Ives; an odd and extremely small store where you would have to wait outside to be called in to order. Due to popularity, the line would often get enormous and waits could extend well over 30 minutes. Needless to say, it wasn’t at all a pleasant experience. This new location however, was better, albeit some caveats.

Approaching, I noticed there wasn’t any line outside of the door, I could just enter! Stepping inside, everything felt more “new” despite being in an older building. I had to walk up a few small steps to make it to the counter where I noticed a vast layout of different donuts. Everything looked clean and fairly organized, and there was even ample seating despite a few number of guests having already took up residence. With a lot of excitement and wanting to try absolutely everything, I happily greeted the front desk person and ordered a variety of six different donuts.

I nearly gasped at the price at checkout. I must have missed the menu in my excitement—there weren’t any prices near the donuts so I expected something modest, maybe even scoring a 6-pack deal of sorts. The total came to $25 where upon paying, I was flipped the electronic payment tablet and asked if I wanted to tip. I hadn’t even been served or tried anything yet I thought. After these shenanigans passed, I found a nice spot by the window and dug in.

Looking at them, I got a honey cruller, a strawberry shortcake flavored old fashioned, and a variety of brioches. I had wanted to try a filled one but they were sold out. The donuts are very aesthetic and it was a debate as to what to try first. The odd man out, the thickly glazed cruller was the first to go. It was sweet, one of the sweetest crullers I’ve had in fact. But, if you’re like me and enjoy sweets, you’ll certainly savor it. Unfortunately, I cannot say the same to those who want something more mild. The texture was also great and fairly standard of a cruller, nothing really to write home about. With that down, the more interesting looking donuts remained.

The strawberry shortcake had that wonderfully thick, old fashioned texture. The donut itself was semi-sweet and had a good amount of topping without being overbearing. Next, the final four remaining were the brioches. Each one was decorated nicely and appeared unique. Biting into one, it was sort of sweet. The frosting was a bit thin but the flavor was still mostly there. After trying each one, I noticed that each brioche can be explained as exactly this: A thin layer of frosting, a few decorations, and the same regular tasting donut base. This donut base was fluffy, not too thick on the inside, but large overall. This meant that each bite felt a bit off as the ratio of donut to frosting was skewed, making each one a little on the plain side. Still, they were all decent to say the least.

So, let’s recap and be frank here. Did I like the donuts? Yes, although they aren’t as unique as they appear on the surface. PVDonuts does often carry “that crazy must-have donut” or a filled one that’s an instant buy, but if you want a chance at those, you have to go early or preorder. The donuts I had were still tasty but were they $25 tasty? Not really. If the brioche donut batters varied, perhaps the frostings were thicker, or there was something else such as an offer to warm them up to an extent, bulk discounts, free water, or a service amenity, I might change my mind. Until then, I came away understanding that overall, while these were levels ahead of your typical fast food donut spot, the cost was a noticeable blemish.

Donuts aside, the service was mostly excellent, although there needs to be prices next to their wide front-of-house spread of donuts. Seating was sufficient and the large windows made the interior bright and cozy. However, this wasn’t appreciable as the noise of the shop is unbearable. The walls have zero dampening and they echo, so even though there were only a few others in the shop with me, I could hardly conversate without having to lean across the table. With that, perhaps some plants or physical dampeners may be needed at certain spots throughout to fix the issue.

Though, looking back, even leading up to eating the donuts was needlessly frustrating. I didn’t notice a bike rack in the area despite this shop being situated on one of the most bicycled area in the state. And while even the small steps leading to the counter were cute, a handicapped or older individual might think otherwise. Lastly, I shouldn’t be asked to tip before I was served on top of an already expensive bill. The whole tip culture really bothers me as a shop is potentially putting the onus onto whether the employees get paid fairly onto the customer. Heck, what or who is the tip even going to?

In summary, I suggest folks look for more of their special or filled donuts. See if you feel it’s worth it because after all, according to most reviews, I’m in the minority as I think much of it is fairly mediocre. To be clear, I didn’t hate PVDonuts but I don’t see myself going back either unless I can score something truly unique and worth the price. And almost certainly, I have no intention of dining in until they fix their issues. Until then, while this location is better and may be worth a try, PVDonuts has a lot to improve upon.


Six donuts from Providence Donuts (PVDonuts) in a box.
Six donuts from Providence Donuts (PVDonuts) in a box.
Six donuts from Providence Donuts (PVDonuts) in a box.

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