The Dish: Diner's Update

The latest Rhode Island food, drink, restaurant and dining news.

By Orrin Hanratty, Dillon Stambaugh and Jamie Coelho

 

February–April 2017

2/1–2/28

We can’t decide what is more important: a United States Passport or a #BestDonutsRI Passport? We’ll let you decide. Click here to get a RI Food Fights passport for only $15. Grab your doughnut-loving friends and travel around Rhode Island from Feb. 1–28 to receive a complimentary doughnut from participating bakeries and doughnut shops.  

2/1−2/28

Hope and Main offers a variety of culinary classes and workshops for all ages all month long. Want to introduce your child to world of cooking? Sprouts offers a class for children ages five to eight years old and a separate class for children ages nine and older. Hope and Main also offers classes on food service management, ancient grain nutrition, Valentine’s Day truffle-making, pasta making and eco-friendly eating. All registration information is linked to each class.

2/27

At Eating with the Ecosystem’s "School of Fish," Rhode Island chefs will educate participants about different methods for turning a whole fish — straight from the sea — into a dinner to share with family and friends. Learn how to use plentiful local species like scup, herring, whiting, skate, dogfish and sea robin. This month’s class will feature chef Helio Araujo of Jamestown Fish. The lessons and dinner are held from 6–8 p.m. in the demo kitchen (a former school classroom) at Hope and Main, and each workshop is also a dinner, complete with wine and good company. The cost is $50 per person and tickets can be reserved online.

3/2

This March, the Newport Irish Heritage Association celebrates the city’s fortieth annual Irish Heritage Month. To honor the occasion, Newport has invited guests from Kinsale, County Cork — “The Gourmet Capital of Ireland” — to participate in a chef exchange and tasting event. Kinsale and Newport have shared a sister city partnership for fifteen years. The Newport-Kinsale Chef Exchange costs $25 and runs from 6–9 p.m. at Hibernian Hall. This authentic Irish dining experience is the perfect precursor to St. Patrick’s Day. Also, following the chef exchange, participating Newport restaurants will feature dining specials from March 3–9. Participating restaurants include La Forge Casino Restaurant, Malt on Broadway, Midtown Oyster Bar, Main Sail at the Newport Marriott, the Fastnet Irish Pub and caterers McGrath Clambakes and Kitchen Companion.

3/4

The Rhode Island Historical Society and Coggeshall Farm Museum are teaming up to teach a lesson on maple sugaring. From 10 a.m.–noon, head to Bristol to learn about the history of maple sugaring and watch the methods in action. Bonus: after the lecture, you can try some of the Coggeshall syrup on freshly baked French toast. Tickets are $10 for non-members, $8 for members.

3/6, 3/27

Chef Joe Simone of Simone’s in Warren is hosting Mediterranean cooking classes. Instead of getting brunch out, learn to make it yourself on March 6. Lastly, on March 27, go seafood crazy and learn to craft a pasta dish with mussels and clams. Every event is held on Monday nights at at 6:30 p.m. Each class is $60 per person; to reserve a seat, call 401-247-1200 or email hello@simonesri.com.

3/7

NewportFILM and the Aquidneck Land Trust present the documentary Forgotten Farms on Mar. 7 at 6 p.m. at Portsmouth Abbey School. The film was directed by Dave Simonds and features local dairy farmers Jane and Louie Escobar of Escobar’s Highland Farm. Forgotten Farms examines how class impacts the food we buy and by tracking the history of farming in New England, from the booming industry that met all our needs more than 100 years ago to the state of affairs today. You’ll get a new appreciation for the Rhody Fresh cheese and wine that will be available at the pre-film reception at 6 p.m., followed by the movie at 7 p.m.

3/8

Red Stripe is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a Dinner in Dublin. The four-course meal runs $49 and features cabbage salad, Irish chowder and soda bread, Guinness-braised short ribs, traditional mushy peas and colcannon and a sticky toffee pudding for dessert. Each course is paired with a classic Irish drink, as well. Dinner begins at 6:30 p.m. and is available at both the Providence and East Greenwich locations.

3/9

Join Chapel Grille in Cranston on March 9 for the Hess Collection Wine Dinner. Enjoy a five-course meal with special wine pairings. Tickets are $75 inclusive per person. Call to purchase your tickets or click here. Menu coming soon!

3/12

Sign up for the Pot au Feu Ecole de Cuisine Cooking Class on Sun., March 12 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. This is a Stocks and Sauces Master Class. The cost of $495 per person includes personal instruction, class materials, a professional chef's coat, lunch with the chef, a wine seminar and wine tasting, plus a five-course gourmet graduation dinner for four.

3/14

Flatbread Company Providence will team up with Girls on the Run RI for a good cause. Head to this pizza spot on 161 Cushing St. between 4–10 p.m. for a chance to enjoy some quality pizza and make a difference in young girls’ lives. Thirty percent of the proceeds will benefit Girls on the Run RI. Reservations aren’t necessary, and take-out orders do apply.

3/17–3/26

Enjoy week-long deals at a number of spots during Narragansett’s Spring Restaurant Week. Visit George’s for a prix fixe lunch at just over $12 or try a three-course dinner at Matunuck Oyster Bar for less than $30. Other participating restaurants include Trattoria Romana, Trio, Outside at the Pier and The Cove. The specialty menus can be found here.

3/20

At Eating with the Ecosystem’s "School of Fish," Rhode Island chefs will educate participants about different methods for turning a whole fish — straight from the sea — into a dinner to share with family and friends. Learn how to use plentiful local species like scup, herring, whiting, skate, dogfish and sea robin. The March 20 class will feature chef Matt Tortora of Crave Food Services. From March 20–25, Rhode Island is also celebrating its second annual Quahog Week. As part of this statewide celebration, this lesson will feature Rhode Island's favorite bivalve. The lessons and dinner are held from 6–8 p.m. in the demo kitchen (a former school classroom) at Hope and Main, and each workshop is also a dinner, complete with wine and good company. The cost is $50 per person and tickets can be reserved online.

3/20–3/25

Second Annual Quahog Week begins March 20, showcasing Rhode Island’s rich shellfish industry and history. Restaurants across the state will feature special seafood menu items to celebrate. Quahog Week partners, which include  Dave’s Marketplace, Discover Newport, Eat Drink RI, Go Providence, Isle Brewers Guild, Johnson and Wales University, Narragansett Beer, RI Commerce, RI Department of Environmental Management, RI Shellfishermen’s Association, Save The Bay, and the University of Rhode Island, will hold special events.

3/21

Entertainer Rose Weaver performs at the Salon Upstairs at Pot au Feu restaurant in Providence on March 21. The witty Weaver presents “Menopause Mama,” a solo performance calculating the throws of menopause. This unique take on an often swept-under-the-rug topic is a part of the Pot au Feu Dinner and Theatre Series. Tickets are $65 per person, not including tax and tip. Register here. The event begins at 6 p.m.

3/22

The Ocean House culinary team and Weekapaug Inn’s new executive ehef Devin Bozkaya collaborate to bring you March’s Farm and Vine Dinner. This four-course meal inside Seasons features distinguished wine pairings and locally-sourced ingredients from Upper Pond Farm. Guests attending the dinner will be offered a special rate of twenty percent off their room at Ocean House. The dinner is $95 and runs from 7–10 p.m. Children under the age of eight are not permitted to dine.

4/24

At Eating with the Ecosystem’s "School of Fish," Rhode Island chefs will educate participants about different methods for turning a whole fish — straight from the sea — into a dinner to share with family and friends. Learn how to use plentiful local species like scup, herring, whiting, skate, dogfish and sea robin. The April 24 lesson features Jason Timothy of Laughing Gorilla. The lessons and dinner are held from 6–8 p.m. in the demo kitchen (a former school classroom) at Hope and Main, and each workshop is also a dinner, complete with wine and good company. The cost is $50 per person and tickets can be reserved online.

4/27−4/29

The sixth annual Eat Drink RI Festival kicks off on Thurs., April 27 with Dinner by Dames, a multi-course dining event showcasing five of Rhode Island’s top women chefs. The event begins at 6 p.m. and costs $150 for a five-course meal with cocktail pairings. Tax, tip and charitable donation are included in the price. The following day, stop by the Truck Stop to benefit the Rhode Island Community Food Bank and experience some of the Ocean State’s most delicious mobile cuisine. Tickets are $75 and include food from every truck and one drink. Lastly, attend Saturday’s Grand Tasting and sample elegant beer, wine, spirits and local artisanal foods. Tickets are $75 and all inclusive. Buy all tickets here.

4/28-4/29

Save the dates for the Newport Craft Beer Festival, with a special event at Newport Storm Brewery on Fri., April 28 from 8–10 p.m., and the festival on Sat., April 29 from noon–3 p.m. and 4–7 p.m. More details to come soon. This festival is strictly a twenty-one-plus event. Friday VIB tickets are $35, and Saturday tickets are $45. Tickets include admission, unlimited beer samples, live music and a souvenir glass. For tickets and up to date information, visit newportcraftbeer.com,

 

ONGOING EVENTS

AIDS Care Ocean State is looking for bars, restaurants and clubs to participate in Paint the Town Red, a benefit to raise funds for the organization’s mission to assist people and families affected by HIV/AIDS. By participating, businesses agree to contribute 15, 20 or 30 percent of their total sales on one day, April 27, to help provide housing, case management, medical care and prevention services. When people, organizations and businesses with good intentions work together, there is no such thing as an unreachable goal. Join here.

Statesman Tavern in Bristol is offering a family-style supper menu Tuesday through Thursday evenings, featuring dishes that are designed to be split between two guests. Tuesday features whole roasted chickens with buttermilk biscuits, charred kale and quinoa salad with mustard gravy for $50; Wednesday features a tomahawk ribeye with confit fingerlings, roasted Brussels sprouts, onion rings and chimichurri for $75; Thursday is a whole fried Acadian red fish with frisee lardon salad, saffron littlenecks and mussels and coconut jasmine rice for $40. Call 401-396-5115 for reservations.
Trattoria Zooma in Providence is offering affordable lunch and dinner specials during the week. For lunch, enjoy three “fresh and fast” courses for $15.95 from 11:30 a.m.–3:30 p.m. Later in the evening, enjoy dinner for two and a bottle of wine for $35.  The dinner special is available Monday through Thursday between 4–7 p.m. Call 401-383-2002 for reservations.

Narragansett Cafe in Jamestown hosts Italian Night every Wednesday from 5-9 p.m. when you can enjoy dinner for two with a bottle of wine for only $24.95. Don't miss the Blues, Bloodies and Brunch series every Sunday from 1-4 p.m.

Tio Mateo's in East Greenwich is offering several weekday dining deals, including three tacos and a craft beer for $13 on Taco Tuesdays, and a bottle of wine and fajitas for two for $30 on Wine and Dine Wednesdays.

22 Bowen’s Wine Bar and Grille in Newport is offering a three-course prix fixe Tavern Tasting Menu for $35 per person, available Sun.–Fri. Options include a field greens salad, Caesar salad or clam chowder for a starter; redfish, tagliatelle Bolognese, pork tenderloin or New York sirloin ($15 extra) for an entree; and apple spice cake or German chocolate cake for dessert. Add a bottle of wine for $25. For more information or reservations, call 401-841-8884 or visit 22bowens.com.

Each month, a family recipe will be featured as a special for the month at Sardella's in Newport. Ten percent of the proceeds will go to the King Center of Newport. The recipe will be featured on the menu for an entire month, on Facebook and at sardellas.com.

The Mooring Seafood Kitchen and Bar in Newport is offering two off-season specials including a Half-Price Raw Bar and Paella for Two. Wednesdays from Nov. 16 through March 29, enjoy oysters, littlenecks, shrimp, lobster and more for half price. On Thursdays from Nov. 17 through March 30, enjoy old-world style paella with a whole lobster, clams, mussels, chicken, shrimp, calamari, rice, sausage and saffron-garlic sofrito all day for $49 or for $65 with a pitcher of house-made sangria.

The Boat House, 227 Schooner Dr., Tiverton, is offering half-price appetizers, Sun.–Thurs. from 4–6 p.m., now through May 24. With appetizers in the $6–$8 range, you can enjoy a number of healthy, light choices. Some of the dishes include: Bolognese, octopus and potato salad, truffle linguini, littleneck clams and more.

Join Ella’s Fine Food and Drink for Whimsical Weekdays. Tues.–Fri. from 4–6 p.m. in the lounge and 5–6 p.m. in the dining room, guests can enjoy Ella’s entire menu for half off. Head over to Ella’s, located at 2 Tower St., Westerly, for this special deal.

Matunuck Oyster Bar is now taking reservations online here. The waterfront oyster bar, located at 629 Succotash Rd., South Kingstown, is open to online reservations, but also has a dedicated area of the restaurant for walk-in guests. Monday through Thursday from 4–6 p.m. guests can purchase Matunuck’s own oysters for $1 each.

Greenvale Vineyards is open seven days a week in winter for wine tastings and tours. January through March, the hours are Mon. through Sat. 11 a.m.–4 p.m. and Sun. noon–4 p.m. with vineyard tours at 2 p.m. (weather permitting).

Drink and Dabbles are available at B.Pinelli's Italian Restaurant in East Providence for private functions and fundraisers. Call Bill at B.Pinelli's at 401-270-7111 or email charliehall@cox.net.

 

OPENINGS AND LAUNCHES

After a brief closing for renovations, Trio Restaurant in Narragansett has now reopened. There is a larger bar area and an enhanced menu with a new array of shareable appetizers and cocktails.

What Cheer Tavern in Providence has reopened under new ownership.

Stop in for lunch at Mad Dog Cafe, located on the first floor of 65 Blackstone Ave. in Pawtucket's Armory Arts District. Mad Dog Artist Studios and Gallery is located upstairs, while the cafe includes local bakery products and sandwiches featuring local ingredients.

Avvio Ristorante in Garden City has unveiled a new brunch menu. It’s available Saturdays and Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes items like the Day Break Panini, a stirred egg sandwich with double thick smoked bacon and black pepper aioli served with home fries, or if you prefer something sweet and savory, try the melon and prosciutto salad. The steak Benedict with poached eggs, tomatos and flat iron steak served with focaccia, hollandaise and a side of home fries is another fine option. Call 401-942-2900 for reservations.

Sydney, an Australia-inspired cafe and coffee shop, is now open in the Waterplace complex at the corner of Exchange and Stillman streets in Providence. Specialties include the avocado smash toast, sandwiches, seasonal salads, lattes and more.

Renowned Newport bartender Jason Kindness has moved on from Revolving Door to open the new Kai Bar on Main Street in East Greenwich.

Tilly's Cheesesteaks is open at 3711 Kingstown Rd. in West Kingston, serving Philly cheesesteak sandwiches.

Fortnight is new a casual, experimental wine bar located at the corner of Dorrance and Weybosset Streets in Providence, in the space formerly occupied by Aruba Steve’s. Wines come from makers who use minimal chemical or technological interference, and owners Elizabeth McDonnell, Mike da Cruz and Chris Norris-LeBlanc have designed the project as a workers’ cooperative. The food program is also designed to eliminate waste by including items that get better with time, such as pickles and brines, braises, rillettes, smokes and cures.

Revival Brewing has released the Juliett Russian Imperial Stout aged in Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels. This is a brewery-only, limited-quantity release with specialty wax-dipped twenty-two-ounce bottles that come with matching collectible glassware and shirts. Click here to place an order.

Newport Storm’s collaboration beer with Empire Tea and Coffee will be released on Feb. 20. High Test Coffee Stout is filled with aromas of coffee and sweet chocolate. It's made with locally roasted coffee that adds subtle hints of caramel and nougat, while dark malts create depth with roasted flavors. It will be available in four-packs the week of Feb. 20.

Sardella’s Italian Restaurant in Newport has launched Pronto, a new to-go menu with catering selections. The entire menu is available for takeout with only a phone call. The Sardella’s staff will pack up orders to be picked up "pronto."

 

COMING SOON

The plant-based, fast-casual brand by Chloe. will open its first Rhode Island location by Summer of 2017 at 223 Thayer St. in Providence. The menu is free of meat, dairy and egg products, as well as of saturated animal fat, added preservatives and artificial flavors. Visit eatbychloe.com or follow @eatbychloe for more information.

Newport Storm’s collaboration beer with Empire Tea and Coffee will be released on Feb. 20. High Test Coffee Stout is filled with aromas of coffee and sweet chocolate. It's made with locally roasted coffee that adds subtle hints of caramel and nougat, while dark malts create depth with roasted flavors. It will be available in four-packs the week of Feb. 20.

A Greek restaurant, KLEOS, from the owners of Rosalina, will open this spring in Providence.

The owners of Den Den Cafe Asiana are opening Den Den Korean Fried Chicken restaurant at 182 Angell St. in Providence in March.

 

CLOSINGS

Vanuatu Coffee Roasters on Federal Hill closed permanently on Feb. 26. Read the note about the closing on its Facebook page.

Local 121, Providence’s farm-to-table eatery on Washington Street, will close its doors after ten years. Owned and operated by Josh and Nancy Miller, Local 121 was the anchor tenant in AS220's Dreyfus building at 121 Washington Street in downtown Providence, purchased and restored by the nonprofit between 2005 and 2007. The last day of business will be on March 11.

Josh and Nancy Miller have issued the following statement: "As owners of Local 121, we have decided after ten years to close our restaurant. Our last day of business will be on Saturday, March 11, 2017. Our lease with AS220 expires in April, and pursuing another ten year option would have us as restaurant owners and operators into our 70s. We are not interested in doing that through this stage of our lives. We are committed to marketing this beautiful restaurant for sale as a turnkey operation, with the full cooperation and participation of AS220. We want to thank our staff and many patrons. We especially want to thank the many local farmers, fisherman, and other local purveyors for helping us to pioneer the farm-to-table concept in Rhode Island."

 

NOTABLES

Congratulations to chef Derek Wagner of Nicks on Broadway and chef Benjamin Sukle of birch and Oberlin for their James Beard Foundation 2017 Restaurant and Chef Awards semifinalist nominations for Best Chef: Northeast. The final Restaurant and Chef Award nominees, as well as the nominations for Book, Journalism, Broadcast Media and Restaurant Design Awards, will be announced in Los Angeles on Wed., March 15 in real time on Facebook Live and Twitter.

Avvio Ristorante in Cranston has achieved VPN Certification for its Neapolitan pizzas. It is one of three restaurants in Rhode Island with this certification.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announces that $380,000 is available to help grow Rhode Island farm and food businesses and increase the competitiveness of local products in the marketplace. The funding is part of the Local Agriculture and Seafood Act (LASA) and Farm Viability grant programs – which combined have invested nearly $3 million to accelerate growth of Rhode Island’s green economy and support small businesses. For more information on the LASA program or to apply, visit dem.ri.gov/agriculture.  Applications must be received by 11:59 p.m. on March 1.  Awards will be announced as part of Rhode Island’s Ag Day celebration in the spring.   

The Weekapaug Inn's sommelier/senior restaurant manager, Ryan Robinson, has been selected to participate in the Food and Wine Pebble Beach event taking place April 20-23, 2017. There are only under 1,200 advanced sommeliers in the Americas, Australia and New Zealand, and Ryan happens to be the only one in Rhode Island who has been chosen.

The Dean Hotel and Faust restaurant have been recognized by Architectural Digest in "The 8 Best Hotels for Beer Lovers."

was featured in the Travel Channel's "50 States of Donuts" for Rhode Island.

 

TRANSITIONS

The owners of Stoneacre Pantry, Christopher Bender and David Crowell, have signed a multi-year lease for the former Yesterday's space in Newport. After forty-two years in business, Yesterday's closed in September 2015. The new owners will open a brasserie-style restaurant called Stoneacre in late spring or early summer 2017.

​The owners of Stoneacre Pantry are keeping the Thames Street space and have changed up the dining concept to a Basque-style restaurant featuring pinxtos, or small plates. The revamped La Vasca is now open.

Laughing Gorilla Catering has taken over the popular breakfast spot Kitchen's space in Providence for the fall and winter seasons. Lunch and dinner is served inside the intimate restaurant.