The George on Washington Opens in the Former Local 121 Space in Providence
The new restaurant offers elevated comfort food and craft cocktails, plus live jazz and piano performances Thursday through Sunday.
There’s a new restaurant in place of Local 121 at 121 Washington Street, the former Dreyfus Hotel in Providence. The intricate dark wood detailing and stained glass windows of the bar and lounge remain the same at the George on Washington, though the dining room has been completely redesigned with COVID-19 precautions in mind.
“The structure in the bar area has remained untouched. It’s too beautiful to change, especially where the piano is,” says Alex Tomasso, the George on Washington’s managing partner. “But in the dining room, we did a total transformation.” Tomasso worked with Valerie Malloy to reinvent the space.
There are flourishes of artwork and design that pay tribute to George Washington, including a handmade mural of his portrait from the dollar bill. The name of the restaurant is a play on its location in Providence, and it also references Washington’s several trips to Rhode Island in the eighteenth century.
Tomasso signed the lease for the space in early February before COVID-19 arrived in the area. But he always had a vision for what the restaurant would become. He pictured elevated comfort food, craft cocktails and nightly live music, including jazz and piano performances. And he’s succeeded in launching live music there Thursday through Saturday nights, as well as for Sunday brunch.
Thursday nights, Tomasso himself takes over the baby Grand Steinway piano from 7:30 to 10:30 p.m. (sometimes 6 to 9 p.m.) to perform Elton John hits, tunes from Broadway musicals and jazz standards. Friday nights, they feature a jazz duo with a pianist and upright bass, and Saturdays, there’s a jazz trio, including an upright bass, pianist and female vocalist. On Sundays for brunch, pianist Danny Arico performs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. “He plays happy tunes,” Tomasso says. “A lot of Broadway, standard jazz and some Frank Sinatra.”
The elevated comfort food menu includes stuffed mushrooms, calamari alla mama, buffalo cauliflower and more, followed by grilled pizzas and main courses of braised short rib, chicken Milanese, pan-seared sea scallops, burgers and more. The chef is Juan Fernandez, formerly of Blackie’s in Smithfield.
Tomasso has some favorites on the menu. “I would start off with the stuffed mushroom appetizer, then try one of our grilled pizzas,” he says. “Go for the buffalo chicken pizza, and for the mains, I would highly recommend the braised short ribs with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.”
The restaurant offers complimentary valet parking on Friday and Saturday nights. Upon entering, guests will be asked a few questions, as part of COVID-19 precautions. Social-distancing measures are in place in the dining room with tables spaced far apart and the bar is protected by plexiglass to keep guests and staff safe. Even with the challenge of opening a restaurant during a pandemic, Tomasso remains optimistic because of the support he has received so far. “It’s been very good. The compliments are overwhelming, and I am very happy so far,” he says.
121 Washington St., Providence, 401-642-6840, thegeorge-onwashington.com
View a gallery of images from the restaurant.