The opening of a new eatery can be a real shot in the arm for a neighborhood, leading to more economic activity and, in some cases, the emergence of a restaurant row. This has happened over the last six months on Main Street in East Greenwich, where three new places have opened. There is another trio of restaurants that have recently opened in the center of Rhode Island and all appear to be going strong.
Tavolo Wine Bar & Tuscan Grille opened its third bistro and wine bar recently in Warwick. The locally owned, modern Italian concept with extensive wine list took over the space that had been the sole Rhode Island location of Legal Sea Foods, across from T.F. Green Airport. Legal moved to new quarters in Cranston as Legal Sea Bar Garden City Center. The proprietors of Tavolo emphasize their on-site responsiveness to guests on their restaurants’ website, and the other locations – one in Smithfield, the other on Federal Hill in Providence – are quite successful.
Black Oak Kitchen and Drinks on Tiogue Avenue in Coventry is from the owners of Back 40 in North Kingstown, one of whom was Miss Universe. Olivia Culpo, formerly of Rhode Island and a member of a restaurateur family from the Boston area, was part of the original ownership team, but another family member, Josh Culpo, is partnered with restaurant manager Justin Dalton-Ameen and Back 40 chef Rob Pirnie. Black Oak opened in May in the former Fat Belly’s location with casual pub fare, such as Kung Pao chicken bites along with sandwiches and burgers. Black Oak is open for lunch and dinner seven days a week and began serving Sunday brunch on June 2.
Just to the north on the shore of Lake Tiogue is a landmark restaurant address that served as one of the town’s major banquet halls and wedding venues for decades. It was known as Nino’s On The Lake and then just Nino’s until the turn of the century, then went through a couple of ownership changes. For the past several months it has been quietly relaunching as Morse Tavern. It is owned by the Stournaras family, who are also the owners of the original Morse Tavern in Natick, Mass., and the Bolton Street Tavern in Marlborough, Mass. The menu is approachable and casual with interesting selections, such as Bernie and Joe’s Haddock and Dr. Morse’s Burger. Entertainment is featured, which was always a staple of Nino’s, as is the patio overlooking the lake.
The new experiences are exciting, but we have our traditions throughout the state that make every season special. The Newport summer season kicks off in traditional fashion from June 21-23 with the Newport Flower Show at Rosecliff. Attendees look forward to the culinary and dining offerings each year, starting with the Opening Night Party on June 21. The exciting cocktail buffet by Russell Morin Catering & Events on the back lawn of the stunning mansion befits such surroundings. Over the years, the show has expanded its culinary offerings, with chef demonstrations a major part of the marketplace attractions amidst the floral arrangements and horticultural exhibits. This year’s show features a Box Supper & Movie on the lawn of Rosecliff on June 22, which includes admission for the front-lawn gardens and interior floral designs and a special private viewing of the Audubon Exhibition, as well as a boxed picnic supper to enjoy. There is also an Afternoon Tea and on the final day of the flower show, a buffet champagne brunch. It promises to be another busy summer season, as some experiences settle into traditional status, while there’s always something new to sample in the Ocean State. n
Bruce Newbury’s “Dining Out” radio talk show is heard Saturdays at 11 a.m. on 1540 AM WADK, on radio throughout New England, through various mobile applications and his podcast. Email Bruce at Bruce@brucenewbury.com.