Every year just about this time, I have the pleasant task of letting you know about new and relaunched restaurants around the state. Just in time for the high season, chef-owners and restaurateurs roll the dice and open their doors. In reviewing the columns I have written on this topic over the past five years, I uncovered an interesting trend. The number of restaurants opening their doors each year since the recession began is something of an economic indicator.
Since 2008 – the generally agreed-upon recessionary period – the number of restaurants opening their doors in the state has stayed just about the same, in the low single digits. Year by year, there have been as few as two and as many as five new places opening their doors. This year, there appears to be something of a mini-boom taking place. We have already reported on six new places this year.
Not surprising with the flurry of activity expected this summer in Newport comes a flurry of new eateries. From the owners of Perro Salado, El Perrito on Thames Street is a taqueria, quick-serve-style restaurant featuring handmade tortillas and authentic Mexican fare. The Lobster Bar housed inside the Aquidneck Lobster Company, which is a wholesale and retail fish market of longstanding at the end of Fatulli’s Wharf, is expected to open this summer
offering a raw bar plus lunch and dinner menus.
Also opening this summer in the City by the Sea, a new restaurant in a century-old building on Thames Street. The Midtown Oyster Bar is taking the space occupied for many years by Salas’, which closed its doors in January. Midtown will feature more than 40 beers, a “better burger” menu (which sounds like hype but is actually an industry description) and raw bar. Midtown will be open seven days a week for lunch, dinner and late-night.
There is a new look at one of the few waterfront restaurants in town, as the space on Howard Wharf last known as H2O reopened as The Port. Local tourism officials describe the new place as a bar-restaurant featuring inside and al fresco dining overlooking Newport Harbor in the heart of downtown.
Café Fresco in East Greenwich made a major announcement of what its spokesperson is calling its “fresh look for 2012,” including de-emphasizing the “café” in the Main Street restaurant’s name. Fresco’s menu has been updated and Fresco now offers a three-course, limited-menu dinner Sunday thru Wednesday price-fixed at $21 per person. The three-course dinner includes choice of three salads, 12 entrees and three desserts. In addition, Fresco offers half-price, wood-grilled pizzas on Thursdays. Fresco is the sister restaurant to Di-Vine near Veterans Memorial High School in Warwick.