openedFWe’re kicking this month’s openings off with yet another spot on 800 Allens Ave. Formerly Cactus Grille, The Barstow, and Cafe Ole within an 8-month span, the spot now welcomes Brass Monkey, an American-fare, bar-centric, more casual eatery than its predecessors. Fourth time’s a charm. In other much anticipated PVD food news, Pizza J, Julians on Broadway’s sister pizza place, is just about to open. For the central RI pizza lovers, Wescott House has opened in Coventry serving up pizzas in-house and to go along with a full bar and other pub grub. Keeping in the realm of bar food, Barrett’s Ale House opened its second location in Attleboro. On the upscale side of nightlife, ROCKnRYE has moved into The Grande’s old location on The Hill offering up the kind of class you’d expect on Atwells Ave. with an alternative, House of Blues-esque flare. After keeping its doors shut for about half the year, The Sunnyside in Warren finally re-opened as Simone’s.  The former breakfast dive is revamping its menu with dinner service as well.


This month we say goodbye to another Federal Hill spot, Romeo’s Kitchen and Cocktails.



Fox Point’s beloved pizza joint, Fellini Pizzeria, just opened a second location in Pawtuxet Village, Cranston. Those on the other side of the bay no longer need to venture to Prov for their French pancake fix —  Crepelicious has arrived in Barrington serving up decedent crepe-themed desserts. A new cafe just opened on Federal Hill — Enoteca Umberto, meaning “wine library,” and is delivering on its claim with a wide selection of vinos in a small, classic, Italian-style bistro. Federal Hill is also seeing the opening of a casual, authentic Mexican cocina with Letty’s. New Bedford also has two openings this month. Ming Sushi, one of NB’s few sushi joints, is BYOB with an “All you can eat” special: bottomless menu items for a fixed price. Sold. NB’s waterfront is welcoming the appropriately named The Black Whale, boasting high-end cocktails and seafood. Barrett’s Alehouse opened in North Attleborough, serving up casual bar fare. Crosby’s Cafe, formerly Village Cafe, is East Greenwich’s latest addition, located off Main St. Tapas bars have been on the rise in RI since the spring. Another opened, this time in North Smithfield. Spark Grill and Tapas Bar offers small American fare plates, and now, a weekend comedy show. Only one opening in Newport this month. Parlor Bar and Kitchen is bringing the high-end menu we expect from Npt with a modern, comfortable atmosphere.


The Cheese Plate in Warren has closed, potentially temporarily. It is rumored that it will re-open after changing ownership. This will be the fourth time it’s changed hands since its open last spring.

Motif TV Top 5 Events of The Weekend | August 15 – 18

Summer in the City

What to do when the Rhode Island heat gets you down

10492533_10152508372169712_7050950148635490993_nFor the average Rhode Islander, summer generally consists of longingly staring out the window at work, braving beach traffic (has this term been recognized by the dictionary yet?), or hiding from the heat wherever air conditioning exists. I understand — the heat mirage that radiates off of the Providence skyline is a bit disconcerting. Breathe, we’re here to help.

For the Summer Vacation Warriors

If you’re a parent, nanny or a poor soul who gets stuck with some

one else’s child for no monetary compensation, chances are that by July you’re running out of cheap things to do with the kids on summer vacation, likely getting a little weepy at the thought of hauling children, two coolers and 10 pounds of sand toys to the beach (I’m starting to sound like Kim Kinzie). Don’t let the Xbox tempt you. Bring the gang over to the India Point Park playground.

Nestled under shady trees alongside the breezy bay, this maritime-themed playground has the classic swings and slides accompanied by one small, one rather large and one massive set of geometric climbing ropes and nets. These interactive pieces of architecture are home to a series of obstacles, bridges and hammocks suitable for small children or energetic 12-year-olds.

India St., Providence

Cool Off … Locally

There comes a point in the summer when you start saying to yourself, “To hell with fun in the sun, I’m damn hot.” I know what you’re thinking. But please … say no to the mall. And please, for the love of all that is sane, don’t spend any more money on another Transformers movie. Get your air-conditioned cinematic kicks at The Avon on Thayer or The Cable Car on South Main Street. Both of these Providence staples screen award-winning indie flicks seven days a week. Keep an eye on The Cable Car’s schedule for special events and screenings of local films.

The Avon, 270 Thayer St., Providence, avoncinema.com

The Cable Car, 204 South Main St., Providence, cablecarcinema.com

Go Culture Yourself

It’s not any sort of best kept secret in town — Providence is home to the RISD Museum. You’ve seen billboards, you know it’s got the giant Buddha statue, and it likely never comes up as an option on the Saturday morning, “I don’t know, what do you want to do today,” conversation,  but when was the last time you actually went? The summer’s feature exhibit focuses on the freakish glamour of the 19th and early 20th century circuses. Bask in yet more air conditioning and get lost (possibly literally, but there are maps) in visual stimulation.

If you 1) have a short attention span, 2) want to peep some locally grown art, or 3) prefer your art with a side of wine and cheese, Providence Gallery Night is for you. Hop on the free gallery shuttle and cruise to a set of participating studios and galleries around the city. Choose between six different guided tours or visit any of the 26 participating galleries by foot on your own.

RISD Museum, 224 Benefit St., Providence, risdmuseum.org

Gallery Night shuttle stop, 1 Regency Plaza, Providence, gallerynight.org

Boozing, Cruising

My go-to summertime weekend, “I’m bored, it’s 3pm, there’s no way I’m actually going to the gym today,” activity is heading to a bar with a deck on the water and grabbing a cocktail in the sun. And if said bar has a boat docked outside, and if you can take said cocktail onto this boat and take a scenic tour of the Providence River. does it get much better? This exists. The Providence Riverboat Company is the only one of its kind on the river and leaves from The Hot Club daily. The riverboat tour is a slow cruise from the storm barriers to the basin of the Providence river and back again for a perspective most locals have never seen before. And the mini history lesson is interesting regardless of whether you’ve finished your drink. Hang on the Hot Club’s newly renovated deck with a drink, and bring it onto the boat when it’s time to set sail. Bon Voyage.

Tours leave from The Hot Club, 575 South Water St., Providence, providenceriverboat.com

Go For a Posh Dip

Lounge on a plush chair beside the pool and cabana bar  surrounded by greenery, escaping the harsh city concrete. This isn’t a scene out of “Sex and the City.” Actually, I’m fairly certain this exact scene did occur in “Sex and the City.” This could be you. This really exists downtown. AQUA Marriott is the city’s only poolside lounge. Stop by for a drink or get real elegant with it for the afternoon in a private cabana, perusing the cigar and cognac menu. PS: Salsa dance party every Thursday night. Andale!

AQUA at the Providence Marriott, 1 Orms St., Providence, marriottprovidence.com/aqua


Newest food and drink options in RI and goodbye to an old favorite

willyMy progression of emotion upon hearing of the opening of Fed Hill’s The $3 Bar (fairly self explanatory) began at confusion, transitioned to excitement, and settled at, “eh” upon seeing Facebook photos of miniature drinks. My progression of emotion after hearing of Erm’s Cupcake Truck began at “cool,” and ended at “OMG SO CUTE” after seeing a photo of a massive cupcake on wheels functioning as a food truck. Exciting the rest of Providence is the opening of North Bakery. The West Side’s renowned artisan-American fare spot, North, opened up a sweeter shop next door. Despina’s Café on Bellevue is catering to the sweet tooths of Newport with cakes, baked breakfast treats and homestyle meals. If you prefer bakeries that dish out savory snacks, Newport Pretzel opened on Thames Street. The old Asterisk on Thames has re-opened under the same ownership as Willy’s Burger Bar and Rotisserie … and hot dogs. The old Rhino Bar (also on Thames) has re-opened under half of the same ownership, as Perry Mill Tavern, a bit more upscale. Newport is seeing yet another opening with Caleb & Broad where you can find tacos, duck flatbread and edamame on the same menu. North Providence is getting in on the new-restaurant-fun as well with Fahrenheit 516, an upscale Asian fusion  bar and lounge boasting fresh, original bar bites.


The Blue Grotto on Federal Hill has shut its doors along with Vintage in Woonsocket of the same owner.

Sage Francis Grasps Listeners by the Neck and Shakes with Copper Gone


Earlier this month Providence’s hometown hip-hop hero, Sage Francis, lovingly referred to as “Uncle Sage,” released Copper Gone.  The much anticipated album marks the end of a four-year hiatus and his first studio album under his own indie label, Strange Famous Records.

Copper Gone is a 14-track trip into the psyche of Sage, merging his eminent quick-tongued sharp lyrical flair and what may be his darkest autobiographical poetic styling yet. He masterfully uses twisted imagery as commentary on his personal state of affairs along with the absurdity of today’s popular culture (“Knit me a sweater with the intestines of attention whores,” he  raps in “MAINT REQD”).

“It’s mainly in reference to houses that get stripped for their scrap metal,” Sage explained of the album’s title. “There was an abandoned building near where I live that had ‘Copper Gone’ spray painted onto it in an attempt to keep people from breaking into it. It was basically a plea to the people. Like, ‘Hey … there’s nothing left. I’ve been stripped clean. Stop fucking with me now.'”

The album explodes out of the gate 15 seconds into the first track, “Pressure Cooker,” with an abruptly shouted, “I been busy, get off my nuts,” as if to say, “Yeah, I’ve been on hiatus. What’s it to you?” setting the pace for the level of energy that holds strong through the entirety of Copper Gone. “I definitely felt the pressure to have an album that socked people over the head. And in the bread basket. And in the bean bag,” Sage explained of creating his first full-length album since 2010’s LI(F)E. 

The power that Copper Gone demonstrates commands the listener’s attention through mellower lulls in the track list as well with captivating lyricism and well developed, easy riding beats. Sage’s infamy as a wordsmith comes to fruition with his visual storytelling. He depicts a love gone far downhill in “Grace,” rapping in the outro,

“This a music box that haunts me from the top-shelf of the bedroom closet 
I don’t touch it, it just cuddles with my conscience
I’m on constant guard, jittery the whole night
Clinging the sheets because it sings to me slow like
And that’s her song running through an hourglass…”

Sage’s lyrics flow easily over by a diverse mix of beats from a number of producers in addition to affiliates Buck 65, Alias, Ceciel Otter and Reanimator. “A French producer by the name of Le Parasite put together [the “Over Under”] beat,” Sage explained, “It was actually submitted as part of a remix contest we held on our website a few years back. I liked the beat so much I asked him if I could keep it on reserve for an original song. The beat for ‘Say Uncle’ also came about in a similar way. In fact, now that I think of it, a lot of the producers on this record got in touch with me from the remix contests we held at Strange Famous. Crazy how that all worked out.”

Indie record Copper Gone has seen an overwhelming amount of support in its first month in circulation. Mid-June the album reached number 135 on Billboard’s Top 200 list of current albums and number 23 on the list of current hip-hop. Sage is currently on the final leg of his US tour, ending the journey at home in Providence.

He’ll be tearing down the house at Fete with Strange Famous artist and RI local, B. Dolan on July 4. What can fans expect at this homecoming? “Pure fucking insanity. We’re leaving it all out on the stage that night. If people leave that show feeling like it wasn’t the best show they’ve seen in recent years I’d be surprised. This will be one for the books. No doubt. Medical ones especially,” Sage assures us.

Copper Gone is available for purchase on strangefamous.com on vinyl, CD, digital download and yes, cassette tape.

Sage Francis with B Dolan
July 4, 7pm
Fete Ballroom, 103 Dike St, Providence

MotifTV Top 5 RI events May 8 – 13: Mother’s Day Edition

CORRECTION! The URI East Farm Spring Fest is on SATURDAY!! Not Tuesday 

Alt-Mother’s Day: How are you celebrating?



Everyone and Their Mom Goes Out in East Greenwich

IMG_3516My mother is a foodie. Not a bad trait to inherit. She unknowingly plays Motif’s editorial consult on half of our Locale coverage. I’ve also inherited her organizational skills that border on neurotic. This was made clear after asking her to participate in a Mother’s Day-themed bar hop as I read her itinerary email the night before, copied to nine other people, stating, “Here’s the lineup for tomorrow night’s drunken extravaganza.” She strategically mapped out three restaurants in East Greenwich based on a three-course evening: Meritage for high-end martinis, Finn’s Harborside for “clam cakes to soak up the booze,” and Grille on Main for, “yet more responsible drinking,” and the main course. I like the way you think, Mom. And so it began — five retired best friends and five of their grown children take on East Greenwich.

Ten ladies and a gentleman deep, we hit our first stop. Meritage must be where 9 to 5 sophisticates go after a long day at the office because for an early, rainy Wednesday evening it was packed. Even in a crowd the open room held the group of us comfortably. If there is such a thing as a cocktail destination, this is one of them. After flipping through pages of signature drinks, I settled on the Double Cross Pear Martini, which was Double Cross Vodka & Chilean baby pear nectar, garnished with a wild baby pear. The fruit nicely complemented the bite of the vodka without disguising the flavor.

As my sister whispered to me, half a martini deep, “Are you drunk yet, too?” it was clearly time to finish up and move the party along the road to the rehabilitating, booze-soaking clam cakes. And more cocktailing. Finn’s Harborside, known best for their weekend summertime dock parties, is a nautical dive bar during off-hours. It’s the type of place where you wouldn’t be phased if someone looking like Gorton’s Fisherman took the bar stool next to you. Bar food plus seafood translates into some quality fried appetizers. Clearly, Mother knows best.

Our last stop brought us to Grille on Main for a late-night dinner. As a Main Street staple, it was only appropriate.  Known for its grilled pizzas and pasta dishes, the bistro-style eatery certainly delivered. The butternut squash ravioli balanced sweet and savory with candied pecans and spinach tossed in a sage brown butter cream and Parmesan cheese sauce.

The casual sophistication of our night, not a usual ambiance for our group of 20-somethings, was not out of the ordinary for our mothers. “You were schooled in happy hour,” they declared. “We trained you for this!” And they were right. This group was no stranger to small intimate parties. I had been a guest at their patio soirees since the womb. We all got to college confused as to why there was never any fresh crab dip or bruschetta.

Teach your children how to tie their shoes, ride a bike, and that if you’re going to drink, do it right. They just might write about you in a magazine some day. Happy Mother’s Day to the group of women who raised me and trained me how to properly make a gin and tonic.

Meritage, 5454 Post Rd

Finn’s Harborside, 38 Water St

Grille on Main, 50 Main St

Smiley vs. Smiley on Gun Violence

With November’s statewide election drawing closer, Rhode Island is beginning to enter its bi-annual political frenzy of candidates and policies. In the four years since the last mayoral race, the nation has seen a dozen gun-related mass murders and hundreds of shootings in Providence alone, putting firearm policy atop the list of hot topics.

In one new approach to this complex issue, Providence mayoral candidate Brett Smiley (D) proposed a 10% supplemental sales tax on all guns and ammunition sales statewide with proceeds benefiting anti-violence efforts by nonprofits and underfunded community outreach programs.

Providence has not seen a proactive step toward the reduction of gun violence since Mayor Cicilline’s implementation of community policing in 2006. But is the proposed law fair to those who purchase firearms legally while the majority of shootings are carried out with illegally obtained weapons? Would financially backing selected community outreach programs have an effect on the rising number of shootings annually? Motif invited Brett Smiley and GOP Chair, Mark Smiley (no relation, as far as they can tell) into the studio to debate just that.

Brett (D): [The proposed law] is inspired by cigarette taxes. Just like we ask the tobacco companies and smokers to pay for public health initiatives, I think it’s fair to ask the firearms industry and those who prop it up to pay for anti-violence efforts.

Mark (R): On the surface, [the law] has merit. Of course gun violence is a terrible thing in the state; we don’t want to see it happening. But to tax gun owners when just a tiny percentage of the actual violence in the state is perpetrated by people who legally own guns … it’s not exactly related.

Mark links the state’s violence epidemic with its poor economy. “We have to improve that and the gun violence will relieve itself,” he explained. Brett agreed that there is a correlation between violence and poverty, but went on to explain that guns legally obtained do end up in the wrong hands.

While “Blue Cards,” received after passing a firearm safety evaluation, are required for purchasing firearms, there is no permit required to purchase ammunition. Both party representatives agreed that requiring a Blue Card to purchase ammo is a step in the right direction.

Mark: [But to] randomly tax people who are doing something perfectly legal that is also part of their Second Amendment rights … cigarettes are not part of the constitution.

Brett: Paying an extra 10% on either a box of shells or a new firearm isn’t infringing on anyone’s constitutional right, but [it’s] providing a way to protect the whole community.

Mark: It’s penalizing people who haven’t done anything wrong. There was recently a Harvard study put out that can’t find a correlation between stricter gun control laws and a reduction in gun violence. Guns don’t create any violence, it’s the people behind them. We have to fix that part.

Brett: I don’t think this is actually going to be an infringement on gun owners, but rather a fair and justified place to find additional funding to keep our streets and cities safer.

Mark: We need to figure out how to reduce the amount of revenue that we’re taking from the people that will allow them to create the economic prosperity that would solve the poverty issues.

Brett: We have students not receiving the proper education, an economy that is either not growing or growing too slow, and we have real serious public safety challenges. These three things are interconnected.

He went on to speculate that students don’t walk to school out of safety concerns, and that once a pupil’s fear of violence is resolved they may gain the proper education to become Providence’s entrepreneurs of tomorrow, in turn, improving the economy and reducing the crime rate.

“We need to find ways to provide additional support to the people doing anti-violence work in our neighborhoods.” Brett’s proposed law would strengthen community policing, implemented post-Mayor Cianci, to forge partnerships between the police force and crime-ridden neighborhoods. Statistically, crime dropped exponentially in the years that followed that earlier focus on community policing. The proposed law is a tool to re-form those community programs without drawing more, debatably needed, funds into the Providence police force.

The new tax would bring in an estimated $2 million each year.

Mark: It sounds to me like you’re trying to take a disproportionate amount of money from all around the state to correct problems in Providence. Telling someone in Narragansett that they need to pay for that — that’s not fair to anyone involved.

Brett: The capital city is an asset to this entire state. Just like you go to shows in Providence and have a meal on Federal Hill. You want to feel safe at that meal. The assets that we have in Providence are statewide assets.

Mark: I haven’t seen [violence] keep anyone away yet.

Brett’s proposed law has the backing of 10 sponsors and has been introduced into the house and senate where it  is currently awaiting its hearing. It will find its way from there to house and senate finance and from there, to the floor.