Diner’s Update

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

By Jamie Coelho and Daniel Araujo.

February and March 2018

2/16-2/25

The burger at Diego’s.

The Newport Burger Bender returns for the second year this February 16 to 25, coinciding with the Newport Winter Festival. The burger contest recognizes culinary creativity throughout Newport and surrounding towns, and it challenges local restaurants to compete for the lauded “Newport Burger Bender Best Burger” title, and the coveted Burger Bender trophy. Thirty area restaurants are competing. To vote, diners can go to the Newport Burger Bender website to see the entries, plan their burger tasting adventure accordingly and then vote for their favorite burger. The burger with the most votes at the end of the contest will be crowned the winner.

2/162/24 (but not 2/18)

Sick of long, cooped up winter nights? Venture to the Fire and Ice Bar at the Hotel Viking in Newport between 4–8 p.m. from February 16–24 (except the 18th) to enjoy an outdoor evening of craft beer by Devils Purse Brewery, refreshing Keel Vodka cocktails and catered snacks by A La Caja China grill. The outdoor courtyard features fire pits and an ice bar; but don’t plan on paying with plastic – it’s cash only.

2/162/24 (but not 2/18)

As part of its Winterfest Extravaganza, the Hotel Viking is offering an Ice Cream Sundae Bar from 1–3 p.m. in its elegant ballroom where you can satiate your sweet tooth. Admission is free for those with a Winterfest bracelet; otherwise, it’s an affordable $5 per person.

 

2/22 and 2/23

The renowned Hotel Viking in Newport will host a two-day “Field and Forage” event series featuring former Patriots player Matt Light and TV chef Mike Robinson from BBC’s “Ready Steady Cook.” The events include a butchery demonstration by the renowned chef, as well as cocktail receptions, family-style meals and live bidding for one of three prizes, including a signed Tom Brady game jersey. Ticket prices range from $65–$365. To reserve a spot or to find more information about the events, visit the Hotel Viking’s special event website.

2/22

Chapel Grille in Cranston is hosting a five-course Decoy Wine Dinner on March 22 at 6:30 p.m. Each course is served with wine pairings. Tickets are $75 per person. Limited seats available! Call 401-944-4900 for reservations.

2/24

Poke (poe-kay) is a traditional Hawaiian dish, almost completely unknown in the Rhode Island corridor, and best described as a raw fish salad complete with Hawaiian toppings, sauces and spices. Seize the chance to get your hands on this unique and healthy option by visiting the grand opening of Pokeworks on Thayer Street for a buy-one-get-one special on all menu items all day long. Try signature creations of Sheldon Simeon (alumnus of Bravo’s “Top Chef”), or make your own poke bowl or poke burrito as you dive into these exciting island entrees.

2/26

Join The East End bar and restaurant as well as the master distiller from the award-winning Four Roses, Brent Elliot, for an exclusive evening of rare bourbon tastings and a special dinner. The event starts at Bottles with a reception from 4–6 p.m. featuring Brent Elliot, who will sign bottles, discuss his distilling philosophy and offer samples of his prized bourbons. It concludes with a 6:30 p.m. dinner at The East End, where Elliot will guide guests through tastings of his bourbons as they dine. Tickets can be purchased for $125 each at 401-433-9770; visit website for more details.

2/26

Watch a special Rhode Island screening of Wasted! on Feb. 26 from 6 to 9:30 p.m. at Bayberry Beer Hall in Providence with chef Jake Rojas, chef Derek Wagner and chef Dave Johnson as they create a menu highlighting ideas to help tackle food waste in each of their kitchens. The film aims to change the way people buy, cook, recycle and eat food. Through the eyes of chef-heroes like Bourdain, Dan Barber, Massimo Bottura and Danny Bowien, Wasted! exposes the criminality of food waste and shows us how each of us can make small changes – all of them delicious – to make the most of every kind of food. Tickets are $20 per person.

3/2-3/11

Newport Restaurant Week takes place both in the spring and in the fall with more than fifty participating restaurants offering three-course prix fixe lunches for $16 and three-course prix fixe dinners for $35. Check out the list of restaurants, menus and special culinary events here.

3/8

Join Red Fin Crudo and Kitchen from 6–9:30 p.m. to share an unforgettable evening with five premier chefs, who will be preparing a five-course tasting menu to be served with paired cocktails and wines. The featured chefs include Brian Duffy from Spike TV’s “Bar Rescue,” and his latest show, “Bar Crashers,” and Monti Carlo, host of the Food Network’s “Help my Yelp” and a “MasterChef” top five finalist, alongside Red Fin’s owners and chefs Jennifer Behm Lazzarini, winner of Gordon Ramsay’s “MasterChef” season two, and Julio Lazzarini, finalist of Food Network’s “Chopped” and one time cook for the likes of Bill Clinton, the Dalai Lama and Joe Biden. Tickets are $125; a portion of the proceeds will be allocated to Support Adoption and Foster Care of Rhode Island.

3/8

Enjoy the refined tastes of the tip of Italy with Siena in East Greenwich and The Savory Grape Wine Shop as they collaborate to offer a five-course dinner featuring Librandi wines from Italy’s Calabria region. The evening kicks off at 6:30 p.m. with the serving of the first appetizer, barbaietola, and concludes with a dessert of mousse al cioccolato. Tickets are $79 per person. Call 401-885-8850 for details and reservations.

3/15

The Museum of Work and Culture in Woonsocket will again host an early St. Patrick’s Day celebration at Ciro’s Tavern in Woonsocket, complete with Irish food, music, dance, history and trivia. Music will include classic Irish sing-alongs and ballads, all performed by Irish natives; dinner will consist of traditional options such as soda bread, potato soup, shepherd’s pie, corned beef and cabbage. Tickets are available for $45 per person on the website, and all proceeds go towards funding the museum’s educational and public programs. Call 401-769-9675 for more information.

3/19

The local nonprofit Eating with the Ecosystem will host a series of workshops this winter and spring on specific dates from 6 to 8 p.m. to introduce home cooks to the joys of cooking with whole, local fish. The series, titled “School of Fish,” advances the organization’s mission to help New Englanders eat a more diverse and representative array of wild seafood from our local marine ecosystems by overcoming the barriers for consumers to feel comfortable cooking with local species. Workshops will take place in the demonstration kitchen at Hope and Main in Warren and will be led by well-known local chefs Max Peterson (Hemenway’s); on March 19; Greg Coccio (Avvio) on April 16; and Jason Hegedus and Nick Gillespie (Dune Brother’s Seafood) on May 21. Each class will feature one fish species prepared three ways, accompanied by instruction, conversation, tastings, and local wine. Tickets cost $50 per person and can be purchased here.

3/25

Save the date for the second annual Best Poutine Competition at Woonsocket’s Museum of Work and Culture. The event will take place from 1:30 to 4 p.m., and an even larger crowd is expected due to the kickoff of New England’s Poutine Route, featuring events in Rhode Island, New Hampshire and Maine. If you are interested in participating as an event partner, they are holding an informational meeting at the Museum on Wednesday, January 24 at 3 p.m. Area restaurateurs will also be invited to learn more information about the competition.

4/16

The local nonprofit Eating with the Ecosystem will host a series of workshops this winter and spring on specific dates from 6 to 8 p.m. to introduce home cooks to the joys of cooking with whole, local fish. The series, titled “School of Fish,” advances the organization’s mission to help New Englanders eat a more diverse and representative array of wild seafood from our local marine ecosystems by overcoming the barriers for consumers to feel comfortable cooking with local species. Workshops will take place in the demonstration kitchen at Hope and Main in Warren and will be led by well-known local chefs Greg Coccio (Avvio) on April 16; and Jason Hegedus and Nick Gillespie (Dune Brother’s Seafood) on May 21. Each class will feature one fish species prepared three ways, accompanied by instruction, conversation, tastings, and local wine. Tickets cost $50 per person and can be purchased here.

4/24-4/28

Local businesses, The Savory Grape and The Savory Affair have launched a premier Long Island Wine Country tour to cater to inspired traveling wine enthusiasts. Rhode Islanders now have the chance to partake in a personalized, behind-the-scenes gourmet wine experience in Long Island’s coveted North Fork area. Participants of the savory experience in Long Island will encounter a memorable boutique-styled tour during which they will sip, savor and socialize with the area’s elite winemakers, chefs and personal guides, with The Savory Grape and The Savory Affair’s founder and proprietor, Jessica Granatiero, and Food and Wine Educator, Tulay Lawton. This one-of a-kind trip is limited to a maximum of twelve to fourteen guests to maintain intimacy. The trip cost is $1,345 per person, double occupancy before Nov. 1. After Nov. 1, the cost is $1,395. Reservations will be accepted through January 30, 2018. To book a reservation, contact Tulay Lawton at tulay@thesavorygrape.com.

4/27–4/28

The Newport Craft Beer Festival is back for its seventh year for a special session on Friday, April 27 from 8–10 p.m. and for the two festival sessions on Saturday, April 28 from noon–3 p.m. and 4–7 p.m. It’s the best place in Rhody to experience unlimited craft beer samples, live music and food for sale from local Newport restaurants. Enjoy the VIB (very important beer) experience on Friday at the Newport Storm Brewery, or join the masses on Saturday under an enormous tent at the Great Friends Meeting House in Newport. Friday tickets are $35 per person; Saturday tickets are $45 per person.

5/21

The local nonprofit Eating with the Ecosystem will host a series of workshops this winter and spring on specific dates from 6 to 8 p.m. to introduce home cooks to the joys of cooking with whole, local fish. The series, titled “School of Fish,” advances the organization’s mission to help New Englanders eat a more diverse and representative array of wild seafood from our local marine ecosystems by overcoming the barriers for consumers to feel comfortable cooking with local species. Workshops will take place in the demonstration kitchen at Hope and Main in Warren and will be led by well-known local chefs Jason Hegedus and Nick Gillespie (Dune Brother’s Seafood) on May 21. Each class will feature one fish species prepared three ways, accompanied by instruction, conversation, tastings, and local wine. Tickets cost $50 per person and can be purchased here.

 

ONGOING EVENTS

Angelo’s Palace Pizza in Cumberland is celebrating it fortieth anniversary this year with specials, promotions and the opportunity for two lucky customers to visit the Greek Islands this fall. As part of the celebration, wine dinners and Greek dancers will be featured throughout April and on special nights during the year; in addition, a variety of special Greek dishes will be added to the menu.

Farm-to-table restaurant chain, B.Good, with locations in Providence and Cranston, recently announced its international search for its customer of the year. Contestants are asked to show their love for B. Good in their own unique way, and the winner will receive a free meal a day for a year, as well as other awesome prizes. Entries will be accepted online through Feb. 5. Check out last year’s winner from East Greenwich!

If it’s free, it’s for me — right? If the old adage rings true for you, then stop by Farm Fresh RI’s Harvest Kitchen Cafe and Corner Store every Friday from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. for Free Sample Friday, where you will be treated to delicious locally sourced food, prepared fresh for your sampling pleasure. Farm Fresh RI’s Harvest Market Cafe is located at 2 Bayley St. in downtown Pawtucket.

Join special guest sommeliers and wine experts at Massimo Italian restaurant on Federal Hill in Providence to enjoy a sophisticated evening of wine tastings on the first Thursday of every month, starting this February, from 6–8 p.m. While admission is only $25, reservations are recommended. Call 401-273-0650 or visit the website to guarantee a spot to try the delicious wines, meats, cheeses and hors d’oeuvres, as well as to pick the brains of the seasoned wine connoisseurs.

Narragansett Beer and Sons of Liberty Spirits Company teamed up to create a hop-flavored limited edition whiskey that is made from Narragansett’s Lovecraft I Am Providence Imperial Red Ale beer. Aged in ten-gallon newly charred American Oak barrels, the whiskey presents a floral nose and mild sweetness up front followed by rich nutty caramel and subtle vanilla flavors. With only 1,400 bottles produced, the 43 percent ABV whiskey will be available for purchase from select retail locations throughout Rhode Island and the Sons of Liberty tasting room in South Kingstown. For more information about the whiskey visit narragansettbeer.com or solspirits.com.

Ella’s in Westerly offers a two-course pre-fixe menu for $25 per person. Choose from appetizers like pate, the dynamite oyster, a mixed greens salad and cavatelli, and entrees like squid arrabiata, pan-seared flounder, shrimp tempura and momma’s chicken. For reservations, call 401-315-0606.

Gurney’s Newport is offering a few specials for the season: Scarpetta has a pre-fixe menu for $35 that’s available from Sunday to Thursday, in addition to the a la carte menu. Choose from a primi piatti like creamy polenta or tuna ‘sushi,’ secondi like housemade tagliolini or branzino, and dolce such as warm banana bread or coconut panna cotta. Regent Cocktail Club, which boasts indoor seating in addition to a three-tiered outdoor deck with eleven fire pits, is offering $1 oysters and 50 percent off small plates/appetizers (excluding raw bar) with a drink Monday through Thursday from 5 to 7 p.m. Enjoy the sunset right over the famed Newport Bridge.

Join Chair 5 at the Break Hotel in Narragansett for specials all week long! Every day from 4–6 p.m., enjoy buck-a-shuck on the rooftop or enjoy appy hour, five appetizers for $5. Wine Wednesdays is available from 6–7 p.m. Enjoy three wines with a common factor (producer, varietal or region) and munch on a small bite to accompany each selected wine. Visit dinechair5.com for additional information.

Massimo has new beverage and menu selections on the brunch menu, which is available every Sunday from 10:30 a.m.–2:30 p.m. Choices range from lobster crepes and pork belly with fontina polenta to brioche French toast with strawberries and mascarpone. Don’t miss the Drag Brunch on the first Sunday of each month in the upstairs dining room from noon–2 p.m.

 

OPENINGS AND LAUNCHES

R1 Indoor Karting Entertainment Center opened Fuel Restaurant and Sports Bar. The eatery adds a dining dynamic to the venue with its urban chic atmosphere located right above the karting center. Fuel, designed by Dutch designer Hans Snoeijen, boasts twenty-five-foot ceilings, brick walls and large windows for guests to watch the karting action below. The space features a full-service bar, a restaurant and VIP room that accommodates 450 people. The restaurant menu will provide options such as brick oven pizzas, chicken wings and vegetarian options like quinoa salad. Read more here.

At the location of what was once Doherty’s East Avenue Cafe now stands Craft Burgers and Beer (B and B), featuring a fifty-seven beer menu chock-full of local favorites. The new restaurant is reminiscent of Doherty’s, but has narrowed its focus in order to provide the best burger and beer experience possible. See the Valley Breeze article and the website for more details.

Downtown Providence favorite, Knead Doughnuts, just announced plans to open a second location on Elmgrove Avenue on the East Side of Providence! Knead is known for its gourmet doughnuts, and it’s ready to expand to conveniently reach customers all around Providence. Stay tuned for the opening on Knead’s Facebook page!

Waffle Providence opens its door to the public in downtown Providence. Be one of the first to try their liege waffles in sweet and savory varieties.  Read more about their business venture.

Rhode Islanders have been waiting, and the time has come. By CHLOE., the well-known plant-based, fast casual restaurant that has a following in New York City, Los Angeles, and most recently, Boston, opens its first location in Rhode Island at 223 Thayer Street in Providence. Menu items are made fresh and in-house daily from whole ingredients to create vegan options, including salads, burgers and sandwiches, fries and sides, pasta, freshly-baked sweets, and Chill by CHLOE., the brand’s line of ice cream. Each and every menu item is entirely free of meat, dairy and egg products, as well as of saturated animal fat, added preservatives and artificial flavors. Read more about it on our blog.

From The Burgundian: Coffee and Waffles Facebook.

The Burgundian: Coffee and Waffles has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund its double-decker bus cafe. Check out the Kickstarter page to be the first to nab a fun Kickstarter reward.

Xaco Taco, in the old Rick’s Roadhouse space, is now open, serving all kinds of tacos from $3 to $3.50 each. Similar to Harry’s Bar and Burger’s famous special, everyday between 3 and 5 p.m., all tacos will be $2 each. Read more here.

The Nitro Coffee Bar, from the owners of the Nitro Cart (or Nitro Cartel as they call themselves), is now open on the West Side of Providence, next to

Gracie’s is now booking guests for a once-in-a-lifetime vacation opportunity — to meander through the rivers of France’s Burgundy and Provence regions while accompanied by Gracie’s own executive chef, Matthew Varga, and enjoying five star French cuisine, complete with unparalleled local wines, craft beers and spirits. The eight-day vacation also includes six days of prepared excursions hosted in Avignon, Tarascon, Viviers, Tournon, Lyon and Marcon. The guided vacation costs $3,399 per person. For reservation bookings or more information, visit the website, call 941-312-2584 or email lori@innovativetravelconcepts.com.

Greeted by the sound of applause from Narragansett Beer fans everywhere is the beautiful reintroduction of Narragansett Porter, a craft beer available in four-packs of sixteen-ounce cans for the next few months. This historic beer, which was sold even through Prohibition, is well known for its chocolate base, smoky malts, berry flavors and pine hops. Buy now for $10.99­–$12.49 statewide.

 

CLOSINGS

Persimmon Provisions in Barrington has closed after seven years in business. The Speidels are focusing on expanding to Sunday brunch service at the Providence restaurant (first brunch Feb. 4 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.). The butcher shop is currently for sale, but not the name.

Fat Belly’s owner Scott Parker has decided to close Fat Belly’s in Providence and Warwick for personal reasons. Parker said a construction project in Providence contributed to his decision and he believes the ongoing construction would have hurt business. Three other Fat Belly’s locations in East Greenwich, Coventry and one next to the Warwick Mall will remain open.

 

TRANSITIONS

The Rhode Island Brew Bus has been sold to the Maine Brew Bus company based in Portland, Maine, and will continue operating under the new owner. Bill Nangle started the brew bus in 2014 after completing his last semester at the University of Rhode Island. The tours have visited more than twenty breweries and wineries in Rhode Island that are part of multiple weekly itineraries. “The past few years as owner of The Rhode Island Brew Bus have been so rewarding,” says Bill Nangle in a release. “Our partnerships have grown and our reviews speak for themselves. I take pride in the product we put on the road every weekend and want to see our tours and partnerships continue to grow. Stepping away from the company was not an easy decision, but I feel it is what is best for my family, career, and the future of The Rhode Island Brew Bus,” he added.

Munroe Dairy has announced a change in ownership. Tracy and Bill Daugherty, along with a group of other long-term customers of Munroe Dairy, have purchased the company and its assets from former owner Rob Armstrong and the Armstrong family. The new ownership ensures Munroe Dairy will remain a family-owned Rhode Island company and is dedicated to continuing the company’s successful tradition of delivering farm-to-table milk and fresh local products to Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts families. The Daughertys are planning several investments in the company to improve customer experience, including launching a new mobile app and opening a commercial kitchen to expand on its highly successful Sacred Cow line of baked goods. Plans are also underway for new partnerships with local food and beverage brands. To read more about the change, click here.

 

NOTABLES

The Chanler at Cliff Walk welcomes new culinary talent to its restaurant, The Spiced Pear. The executive chef and director of food and beverage is Matthew Voskuil. He will manage the dining room and facilitate the more casual dining experiences that can be found on property. Chef Voskuil arrives from Las Vegas, where he trained with Joel Robuchon, and most recently served as chef de cuisine at the Venetian Resort and Casino.

Custom House Coffee in Middletown is now owned by fourteen of its employees. The founder of the company, Robert Mastin, began selling shares of his stock last year to employees who want to become owners of the fifteen-year-old coffeehouse and wholesale roasting operation. “I’m surprised and gratified that so many employees decided to participate,” says Mastin. “After all, they’re largely responsible for that success.” Mastin wants to gradually turn over the company to his staff, and selling shares over time is a good way to do it. “I’m not sure I’ll ever totally retire,” he says, “But this is a good way to slowly scale back and turn over more and more responsibility to the new owners at a pace that works for all of us.”

Through a partnership with Bank of America, Collette tour managers and business development managers from around the world gathered together to package 50,000 meals for Rise Against Hunger. Collette has set out to donate 1 million meals in honor of its centennial anniversary, which they expect to exceed later this year.

Rhode Island master chef Walter Potenza of Chef Walter’s Cooking School in Providence and Potenza Ristorante Bar in Cranston, won “Guy’s Grocery Games International Challenge” on the Food Network. The semifinals were held in Santa Rosa, California, and the final challenge to crown the winner was held on Jan. 30, 2018. Potenza also won the competition in 2016.

 


 

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