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Mane Character Energy: Leo season’s fiercest, fanciest foodie finds

Like it or not, it’s Leo Season, y’all! From July 22nd to August 22nd every year, the planet becomes just a little bit more extra while those of us lucky to be born under this leonine sign all declare as one that “It’s MY birthday month!” Face it: for Leos, this stretch of time is a full blown party, and not just any spot will do for these ferociously fickle felines. As a Leo myself (August 15th, a national holiday, and the date of Motif’s food truck awards!), here are some of my faves for when I just need to celebrate and channel my Main Character Energy – which is stronger than normal around this time of the year.

Porch Dining at The Clarke Cooke House

Leos are all about getting glammed up and having a fabulous time, and what better way than to indulge at one of the last spots where a dress code is (thankfully) enforced? Yes, guys must don sport jackets, and gals are expected to reach similar levels of #fashion, but your efforts will be rewarded with effortless service by handsome, tuxedo-clad gentlemen (ok, purr), a menu of locally inspired delicacies (the Lobster with Sauce Poivre Rose is winsome without catering to the masses of seafood zombies on the wharf below), and of course, the Snowball in Hell, everyone’s favorite Newport dessert – a wine glass filled to the brim with house-made chocolate mousse, devil’s food cake, Callebaut chocolate, fresh vanilla ice cream and toasted coconut. Watch all eyes turn to your table as this towering trifle is presented, complete with a birthday sparkler — but don’t worry, Leo. You’re the sparkliest one in the room.

24 Bannister’s Wharf, Newport

The Boombox Karaoke

The overlap between manic theater kids and August birthdays is unsurprisingly common, and where else can one belt out “Little Girls” from Annie while sipping on a fruity, guava-y Love Cat sake cocktail served in an actual ceramic cat glass? The Dean Hotel is already a total vibe — the 52-room boutique hotel boasts a fantastic location and distinctive decor right in the heart of downtown PVD — and the swanky subterranean lounge is the perfect place to channel your inner diva. Private karaoke rooms are available, but in true Leo fashion, the main room is where the spotlight will truly shine on you. Also, “Little Girls” is my karaoke song of choice. #MissHanniganDeservedBetter #SorryNotSorry

122 Fountain Street, PVD

Secret Garden at Ocean House

Nothing says excessive like a champagne and crepe garden, and even though Westerly is a bit far, Ocean House is a total Leo mood, and I am so here for it. The Secret Garden pop-up runs all summer long, and no birthday visit is complete without a Smoked Salmon Crepe with a generous scoop of Royal Belgian Osetra Caviar and a Veuve Clicquot Rich Rosé Watermelon Crush Swimming Pool cocktail, featuring fresh watermelon and Pop Rocks! They’re even open for private dining in their lush waterfront realm, and honestly, that sounds like an ideal birthday party to me!

1 Bluff Avenue, Westerly

Cara at The Chanler

IMO, Leos are the pickiest sign of the Zodiac, so when you subject us to a tasting menu that is completely Chef’s choice, you’re either in for an Oscar-winning tantrum, or a happy kitty, nibbling contentedly on foie gras. At Cara, it’s definitely the latter. With only four tables, guests are truly the stars of the show as they indulge in five or eight course menus of bespoke culinary creations. Executive Chef Jacob Jasinki is at the helm of this impressive Forbes Five Star dining experience, and between the seaside views and gastronomic greatness, this experience is not to be missed.

117 Memorial Boulevard, Newport




I’m Literally Screaming: The scoop on great Rhody ice creams

Summer is officially here, and that means it’s time to venture out after dinner and grab a scoop of ice cream! Oh, what? You don’t do after-dinner ice cream? You’re weak and I don’t want to be friends with you. For those of you who are strong enough to enjoy an apres-cookout nosh, here are some picks for the most fabulous frozen treats!

The Wright Scoop

Who could actually say no to ice cream so farm-fresh that you may potentially get to shake the hoof of the cow that produced it before you dig in? The Wright Scoop’s Insta-friendly vintage airstream trailers at the North Smithfield flagship and at Warren’s Blount Clam Shack turn out some of the most delicious scoops in RI (Black Raspberry Oreo, anyone?), but what really sets Wright’s apart are the mounds of homemade whipped cream that top these icy confections. I have been known to just get a bowl of this with toppings. Seriously. Run, don’t walk! #MooMoo

200 Woonsocket Hill Road, North Smithfield

335 Water Street, Warren

The Inside Scoop

Nothing says Americana like a good ol’ fashioned roadside ice cream shop, and The Inside Scoop in North Kingstown would fit right into a modern day Kerouac novel. Your head will actually explode over the dizzying array of over 50 house-made flavors, but my personal pick is the Cookie Dough Parfait, featuring layer upon layer of dreamy soft serve ice cream, cookie dough and whipped cream. With so much to choose from, you really can’t go wrong.

30 Ten Rod Road, North Kingstown

Sandcastles Sundaes

I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical the first time I visited Sandcastles — as a make-your-own sundae shop, I was like “there’s TOO much freedom here. This is basically a Chipotle for ice cream!” Boy, was I quickly proven wrong! Yes, there’s so much to choose from (Even bacon. Get the bacon.), but everything is super yummy. If you’re not in an adventurous mood, they have several handcrafted selections for sundaes and milkshakes (The Coffee and Donuts Milkshake is a whimsical riff on Rhode Island Coffee Milk), but make-your-own is the way to go. Be sure to snap a selfie with Chip, their costumed mascot, before heading out to people-watch on the patio.

225 Goddard Row, Newport

Cold Fusion Gelato

Mmkay, so gelato is not TECHNICALLY ice cream (it has less cream and more milk, resulting in a richer flavor – I think I just helped you win trivia — #You’reWelcome), but Cold Fusion has been a Newport staple since 2004, and as I always say, if you can survive the early 2000s, you can survive anything. Sure, all of the classics are present and accounted for (the stracciatella is particularly masterful, with a creamy base and dark chocolate flecks dotted throughout), but my new fave for summer is the bright purple Ube Gelato. This tuber is the new kid on the block in Newport (peep the Nitro Bar’s Ube Latte right across the street!), but is quickly becoming a fan favorite no matter in a cup, cone or sensible coffee beverage.

389 Thames Street, Newport

The Perfect Sweet Shoppe

I stumbled upon this actual hidden gem while on a pilgrimage to the adjacent Taco Box Truck, and it’s still one of my favorite foodie finds! Not only does The Perfect Sweet craft incredible desserts, such as actually the best cupcakes I have ever had (that buttercream frosting, tho) and French-style macarons, but they also have a year-round (!!!) Scoop Shop, so you can get your sundae fix even in the dead of winter. And you’ll definitely want to, because there’s a Macaron Ice Cream Sandwich, and what’s better than that?

16 Joyce Street, Warren




On A Clear Day, You Can See Forever: Dining on deck in RI

I am the first person to transform into an eye roll emoji when friends suggest outdoor patio dining during the summer. Sure, the people-watching is usually fire, but I am over trying to defend my well-earned fries against rogue seagulls. However, patio dining is an inevitable part of coastal living, and if you’re going to take the risk to dine at the mercy of our avian friends, it better be worth it!

Fish Co.

Straight out the ‘90s, this perennial PVD favorite has been wowing visitors for years with fabulous marina views and squad-friendly menu options like bottomless mimosas and sangrias, loaded nachos and wings tossed in a variety of sauces and rubs (love the Sweet Thai Chili paired with Passion Fruit Sangria — yum!). Now reopened and under new management since 2020, Fish Co. is ready for a new generation of revelers. In addition to the crowd-pleasing menu and spacious patio, don’t miss DJ Ken spinning tunes on the weekends. 

Don’t call it a comeback — they’ve been here for years!

Fish Co.
15 Bridge Street, PVD
fishcopvd.com

Waterdog Kitchen + Bar

City sophistication meets small town charm at Waterdog Kitchen + Bar, a cute li’l spot in the heart of Warren’s waterfront. The globally inspired menu features eclectic bites like the Octopus Taco, spiced up with piri piri seasoning, and the Street Corn Crab Dip, which gives a south-of-the-border twist to a local seafood fave. Locals roll out of bed for the hearty brunch offerings on Saturday and Sunday mornings – nothing beats a hangover quite like the brioche WD French Toast or the massively delish Bom Dia Burger, topped with Shrimp Mozambique Rangoons, fried egg and creamy garlic aioli.

Waterdog Kitchen + Bar
125 Water Street, Warren
waterdogkitchen.com

The Coast Guard House

Trying to impress that special someone? If your personality isn’t on point, never fear! You’ll have plenty to talk about when you dine at the Coast Guard House, with expansive views of the Narragansett Bay serving as wonderful conversation fodder. The menu is equally memorable, featuring the bounty of the daily catch, such as a gorgeous roasted Branzino with local RI-foraged mushrooms, scallops with a sweet bacon jam and creamy polenta and of course, a classic New England-style lobster dinner. Hey, even if the date sucks, the food doesn’t have to!

Coast Guard House
40 Ocean Road, Narragansett
thecoastguardhouse.com

Iggy’s Boardwalk

What better way to kick off the summer than at Iggy’s Boardwalk, which serves up iconic doughboys and chowder, plus boasts one of the most underrated sunset-watching spots in RI? Honestly, these sweet yet salty fried dough morsels hit different on a warm July evening, paired with a housemade Iggy’s Raspberry Lime Rickey soda. When you’re done with your doughboy feast, scoot next door for a sundae at the Creamery — everyone knows that if you can’t handle after-dinner ice cream in summer, you’re weak and I don’t want to be friends with you.

Iggy’s Boardwalk
885 Ocean Beach Avenue, Warwick
iggysri.com

Newport Lobster Shack

Kudos must be given to my favorite neighborhood hidden gem — the Newport Lobster Shack. Nestled among the schooners and megayachts of the Newport Shipyard, this unassuming takeout window whips up the freshest lobster rolls in town. Prices fluctuate daily based on supply and demand (sad trombone), but two things are certainly reliable: the top notch quality of the succulent lobster and the million-dollar views of the Newport Harbor and Pell Bridge – make sure to induce the FOMO of your uninvited friends by snapping as many photos as humanly possible – you’ll be glad you did.

Newport Lobster Shack
150 Long Wharf Trailer, Newport
newportlobstershack.com




Challenge Accepted: Rhody’s Games of Gastronomic Gusto

Put your tummy to the test this summer by checking off each of these foodie feats! Every bucket list should include at least one of these epic challenges, but if you really want to go for the gold, try all four! After all, it was Theodore Roosevelt who said that one who strives “at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and… at the worst, if he fails, at least fails by daring greatly…” We aren’t sure if he was referring to food challenges specifically, but we imagine he was. 

Wally’s Wieners

The new kid on the block in Newport, named for owners Brad and Morgan Head’s adorbs goldendoodle pup, may have the craziest challenge on Aquidneck Island! To take on the Wally Challenge, you must (without the help of your friends) nom an order of Thames Street Fries, a Quadruple Wynter Burger with a Grilled Cheese Bun, two Wally Wieners, one Nashville Hot Barkin’ Bun, AND one Chocolate Milkshake – all in fifteen minutes or less. Not in the mood to pig out? Their Wedge Salad is a surprisingly fresh take on the classic steakhouse app with crisp iceberg lettuce and juicy bacon bits, and Wally’s is also home to THE BEST ONION RINGS I HAVE EVER HAD. No joke. Run, don’t walk!

464 Thames Street, Newport

Nacho Mamma’s

Give your tastebuds a south of the border vacay and head to Nacho Mamma’s in Bristol to take on the epic Burrito Challenge. Featuring five pounds (!!!) of your choice of flavorful marinated pork, juicy grilled chicken or spice-rubbed beef, plus rice, beans, veggies, lettuce and cheese wrapped in three tortilla shells, it is truly a sight to behold. This challenge is not easily conquered, but if you are victorious, you get your name on the “winner’s wall,” a trophy and bragging rights for years to come!

76 State Street, Bristol

The Hungry Monkey

Brunch is not immune to feats of culinary insanity, and to start your day right, head to The Hungry Monkey in Newport’s funky Broadway neighborhood. Sure, the menu is chock-full of morning faves like Insta-perfect avocado toast and stacks of fresh off the griddle chocolate chip pancakes, but if you really want to test your stomach’s strength, take on the King Kong Challenge – Hungry Monkey’s massive 15-egg omelet stuffed to the gills with cheeses, meats, veggies and more, devoured in one hour or less. If you win (and it’s highly unlikely, as 521 have tried and only 9 – including “Man vs. Food”’s Adam Richman – have succeeded), you get the omelet for free, shoutouts on their social media Winner’s Circle and yes… a t-shirt.

124 Broadway, Newport

Newport Creamery

We saved the granddaddy of RI eating challenges for last, and nothing is more iconic than the Awful Awful Milkshake Challenge at the Newport Creamery. Since the 1950’s, this Rhody rite of passage has consisted of consuming three 24-ounce Awful Awful shakes in one sitting. Even though the prize is the fourth shake for free, you do get to choose the flavor, and if we’re going for true RI vintage vibes, the coffee milk is a must.

Various Locations, RI & Southeastern MA




I Love A (St. Patty’s Day) Parade

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the cancellation of St. Patrick’s Day parades statewide saddened locals and visitors alike. Except for our friends who avoid “amatuer night,” most folks look forward to this raucous day of revelry, which celebrates the spirit of Ireland and marks the coming of warmer days ahead. Luckily, the jubilant atmosphere resumes in 2022 with a little extra pomp and circumstance to make up for lost time. 

Newport

Newport’s iconic St. Patrick’s Day Parade marks its 66th year and first year back since the pandemic put a damper on the Celtic celebration. Grand Marshall Robert “Rocky” Kempenaar, who divides his time between commercial real estate development and countless hours serving on various boards and charities around the city, leads the parade, which steps off from Newport’s City Hall

Take some time between cheering on local squads of bagpipers and step dancing troupes to stop into Basic Irish Luxury, a local gift shop whose authentic wares harken back to the traditions of yore. The cable-knit woolen sweaters and scally caps are classic, but it’s the wide selection of imported candies that really set this sweet shop apart. I am currently addicted to Nestle Lion Bars, and unafraid to admit it! 

For a more educational opportunity, a visit to the Newport Irish History Museum is not to be missed. Anchored in the heart of the Fifth Ward, Newport’s historically Irish epicenter, this small-but-mighty institution highlights the contributions of the sons and daughters of Erin to the City by the Sea. The museum also offers an impressive slate of programming throughout the month of March, highlighted by the Tour of Irish Newport, a complimentary afternoon hosted by Museum President Mike Slein, who wheels guests through decades of Hibernian history in a two hour jaunt aboard a classic red and green trolley.

Newport St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Newport City Hall
11 AM, Saturday March 12th, 2022

Basic Irish Luxury
127 Swinburne Row

Newport Irish History Museum
684 Thames Street
newportirishhistory.org

Providence

Residents of PVD have feted St. Patrick’s Day as far back as 1835, and this year will be no exception. Girl power is the order of the day, with Grand Marshall Barbara Cottam at the helm of the festivities. Cottam currently serves both as Executive Vice President at Citizens Bank in Providence and Chairwoman of the Rhode Island Board of Education, and her roots trace back to formative years in East Providence baking her grandmother’s famous Irish soda bread for friends and family. 

No trip to Providence on any day of the year is complete without a pint and a corned beef sandwich from Murphy’s, a venerable pub that’s been going strong since 1929. With a fun and friendly team doling out quaffs of Guinness to thirsty parade goers and the best people-watching in downcity, you can’t go wrong with a visit to this awesome alehouse!

Providence St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Departs from Smith Street and Hilltop Avenue
11 AM, Saturday March 19th, 2022

Murphy’s Bar
100 Fountain St, PVD
murphysprovidence.com

Pawtucket

Pawtucket’s parade may not receive the hype and buzz of its counterparts in Newport and Providence, but don’t sleep on this spectacular celebration, which ushers in its 40th year. In addition to the parade itself, there’s also the Tour De Patrick Irish 5K (if you’ve ever had the desire to run the St. Patrick’s Day Parade Route, here’s your chance!), and an all-out post-parade bash at the Pawtucket Armory, featuring Gaelic grub and live music by local guitarist and singer Sean Connell.

Pawtucket St. Patrick’s Day Parade
Departs from Pawtucket City Hall
12 PM, Saturday March 5th, 2022

Pawtucket Armory
172 Exchange St, Pawtucket
pawtucketarmoryartscenter.com




Pick Up Lines: A Love Letter To Takeaway V-Day

Valentine’s Day is often a hassle. Impossible-to-get dining reservations plus dull prix fixe menus with predictable rubber chicken entrees and gauche lava cake desserts equal a less than romantic atmosphere for the most amorous day of the year. Luckily, these local gastronomic geniuses save the day with enjoyable divertissements for at-home fun to take Valentine’s Day from dull to desirable.

MOSAIC TABLE

Israel-born owner and Chief Experience Curator Anat Sagi brings her unique brand of culinary hospitality to Mosaic Table, a vibrant pop-up dining experience at Warren’s Hope and Main food incubator. Ever the conscientious hostess in these trying pandemic times, Sagi offers a full at-home Valentine’s Day feast for pickup or delivery, which includes a lovingly crafted multicourse meal, flower arrangements from The Lilac Thief, and of course, a handpicked playlist of tunes to get you in the mood. Looking to get out of the house and meet some new friends (or something more?) – On February 20th, Hope and Main transforms into a romantic supper club, featuring Sagat’s seasonal specialties, local libations from RI Cruisin’ Cocktails, and some exciting surprises sure to ignite that spark!

GRAZE ON MAIN

Nothing is better than staying in on Valentine’s Day with a giant charcuterie board, because unlike a real date, cheese will never let you down! Elyse Pare and Geza Tanner run this small-but-mighty “SpeakCheesy” in the heart of downtown East Greenwich, and their menu has something for everyone. From the Tuscan Nights Board (perfect for two, resplendent with merlot-soaked cheddar, hot capicola, and grape preserves) to the girls’ night-ready Bougie Board (your choice of six meats and cheeses, plus house-made accompaniments – don’t sleep on the raspberry cabernet jam!), there’s something for everyone to celebrate love in all its cheesy glory.

RIFOODFIGHTS’ Valentine’s SWEETS POP-UP

Back by popular demand, RIFoodFights’ Valentine’s Sweets Pop-Up is definitely not to be missed! Filled to the brim with sugary goodness from local purveyors, the boxes even offer a vegan option. Favorites last year included Coffee Milk & Cookies Ice Cream from Warwick Ice Cream, Red Velvet Valentine Cupcakes from LaSalle Bakery, and macarons from Silver Spoon Bakery. The contents of this year’s incarnation are a heavily guarded secret, but what’s better than a blind date to spice up your Valentine’s Day?

Pre-Order Online, Pickup 2/12 and 2/13 at PVDBagels, 695 North Main Street, Providence

NEWPORT SWEET SHOPPE

Something special happens when real-life partners parlay their love for each other into a business venture, and that’s exactly what Patrick and Amanda Bryan did when they opened Newport Sweet Shoppe ten years ago. 

Valentine’s Day is kind of a big deal at this pink-tinted confectionary, and the menu of chocolate covered strawberries, heart shaped cookies, and even a saccharin spin on a charcuterie board –- with truffles and dipped pretzels taking the place of the expected savories — doesn’t disappoint. This holiday is all about consuming copious amounts of chocolate, so why not enjoy the best Rhode Island has to offer?

Pre-Order In-Store Until 2/8, Pickup 2/12-2/14




Feast Your Senses: Feast & Fettle delivers the goods

I am embarrassed to confess the amount of DoorDash Delivery I have ordered during the COVID-19 pandemic. From Thai food to turkey burgers, and even the occasional Applebee’s Riblet moment, the list is a long-running testament to late-night cravings during Netflix Big Mouth binges. But 2022 is the year I vow to #DoBetter, not only improve my diet by bringing in healthful and whole foods (sorry, Quesaritos, I’ll miss you too), but also shop small, stop supporting Big Pizza and start looking to my backyard for ways to up my culinary delivery game. Enter Feast and Fettle, who are saving the world, one delish prepared meal at a time.

Feast and Fettle is a subscription-based service where users can choose from a rotating menu of entrees and sides, which are then hand-delivered fresh to your doorstep. With several tantalizing options to choose from (I am weirdly excited for the Pistachio-Crusted Cod Fish), plus vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free accommodations, there is something for even the pickiest eaters. The small but mighty East Providence company  has seen a huge increase in business, especially after adding milk, bread and eggs to their menu during the onset of the pandemic.

Of course, it wasn’t always that way. Sarah MacDougall, Feast and Fettle’s longtime marketing chief, noted the impact of COVID-19 on their company and stated that many people utilized the delivery service when it was otherwise unsafe to venture out of the home to the grocery store. “It really brought us from Year 1 to Year 4 within a couple of months. We are grateful that a lot of these subscribers stayed on with us after restrictions loosened, and have become repeat customers even a year or two later.” 

Their dedication to quality is admirable, with staff working tirelessly to ensure the high standards for gastronomical excellence are met. “We have our own team of in-house delivery personnel,” MacDougall added. “Twenty delivery vans solely dedicated to bringing our product to Rhode Island and Massachusetts residents who deserve something good and homemade.” Indeed, Feast and Fettle’s baked ziti, which makes occasional celebrity appearances on the ever-changing menu, has such a cult following that the company still mails one out to a subscriber who no longer utilizes the service, but is a devoted lover of the carb-tastic goodness.

Where does MacDougall see the young company headed in the next five years? “We’re leasing out a second facility in Connecticut in 2022, which will serve CT and some of New York as well. In five years? Wouldn’t it be great to have a Feast and Fettle kitchen in every part of the country?”

Yes. Yes, it would.




The Apothecary Is In!: Home-grown service and homemade treats make Green Line Apothecary a special spot

Picture this: You step through the frosted glass doors and take in the scene around you as pharmacists cheerfully fill prescriptions, greeting each customer by name. You approach the gleaming wooden soda fountain and settle into an evergreen velvet stool, peering at the menu, filled with seemingly endless choices. A cherry phosphate? A chocolate egg cream? What sort of wonderful concoction will it be today? No, this isn’t a stage direction from a deleted scene of Thornton Wilder’s Our Town – it’s actually just a day in the life at the Green Line Apothecary.

What began as a romance on an MBTA Green Line train in Boston (get it?) blossomed into a booming business for husband and wife duo Ken and Christina Proccacianti, and they just welcomed a brand new brick n’ mortar outpost — an expanded location steps away from the former home of their Wakefield flagship. The new spot boasts extensive seating at the comfortable soda bar that’s polished to a luster that would rival the dapperest of gentlemens spit-shined spats, shelves stocked with dozens of local goodies, and a carhop-style pick-up, so you don’t even need to leave your vehicle to take advantage of this warm and welcoming spot that strives to be Rhode Island’s community pharmacy.

Christina grew up working alongside her father delivering greeting cards to local drugstores and saw the clear difference between the personalized feel of these small businesses and large chain stores. She wanted to replicate that authentic and personalized feel in her own business. Everyone who walks through the sliding doors are treated like members of the family, and it’s details like this that really set Green Line Apothecary apart from the big box competitors. 

Of course, Green Line wouldn’t be Green Line without their fabulous selection of vintage victuals and vittles. It’s hard to pick between the seasonal Banana Split Ice Cream, the Strawberry Soda with syrup made in-house or the Donut Ice Cream Sandwich, but the Coffee Egg Cream is the true star of the show. This soda fountain staple that dates back to the 1880s consists of soda water, milk and syrup, but Christina and Ken pay homage to Rhode Island Coffee Milk with Dave’s Coffee Syrup added to the mix. It’s a delightful blend of old and new, with a touch of Li’l Rhody thrown in for good measure!

The Proccaciantis have truly made Green Line Apothecary into a family business — their three daughters serve as taste testers for the homemade ice cream and are integral players in developing the soda fountain’s menu. “They’re our biggest supporters, but also our biggest critics,” says Ken, laughing. Their oldest daughter will tie on the iconic green soda jerk bowtie this summer and try her hand at serving up sweets. Who knows? This could be the start of the next generation of ice cream soda superstars! 

No matter how the Green Line Apothecary expands (and boy, do they plan to!), you can count on the Proccaciantis to deliver friendly and one-of-a-kind service with a smile. “Pharmacy is personal. And the community has embraced our modern and personalized version of the classic American drugstore,” says Christina. I’ll raise an ice cream soda to that!

Green Line Apothecary has two locations: 905 North Main St, PVD and 245 Main St, Wakefield. For more, go to greenlineapothecary.com or follow them @greenlineapothecary.




Hear Us Out!: Morning, noon or night, our expert helps you plan the perfect Newport outing

Surprise! You have a whole day to yourself! Why not go to Newport? I know what you’re thinking as you groan and roll your eyes in my general direction: lack of parking, zillions of people crowding the streets and long lines for that one weird bathroom on Bannister’s Wharf. I get it; however, Newport in the summer is home to some truly amazing experiences for the mind, body, and soul. That is, if you’re willing to venture off the beaten path to try them.

Morning:

Any good day in Newport starts with breakfast on Bellevue at Cru Cafe! This darling courtyard spot not only has the greatest avocado toast in town (order it “Twisted” style with smoked salmon and capers for a truly tantalizing treat), but is also BYOB. Don’t want to imbibe? Head across the parking lot to Bellevue Nutrition to fuel up with a Dunkaroo Protein Shake or a supersized Watermelon Jolly Rancher Mega Tea before tackling the Cliff Walk or, if you’re looking for something a bit less taxing on your feet, a leisurely stroll around Audrain Automobile Museum’s showplace of vintage vehicles might just be the stop for you. Check out their “Cars and Coffee” event, offered every other Saturday at various locations around the island.

Afternoon:

Newport is packed with history, but you could satisfy both your mind and your stomach on a Rhode Island Red Food Tour. Take a guided jaunt around Broadway where the funky flavors of local restaurants blend seamlessly into a neighborhood steeped in the essence of days gone by, and you have a wonderful way to while away the afternoon. Or if you want something a bit quicker without sacrificing any charm, dig into a Meat Pie at Megs’ Aussie Milk Bar, where owners Megs and Haydn Bugden serve up authentic bites and refreshing smoothies with relaxed Down Under hospitality. Cap off your foodie adventure with a Newport Classic Car Tour, where proprietor Ken Hudson is driven to ensure that every guest feels like a Gilded Age millionaire as he chauffeurs you and your friends in a 1924 Studebaker on a trip back in time that would make Gatsby proud.

Evening:

The Top of Newport roof deck at the Viking Hotel is the best place in town to watch the sunset, and local troubadours The Yacht Club Rejects provide the soundtrack to summer nights as they serenade locals and tourists who come to drink in the panoramic views and creative cocktails like the classic Best Seller Espresso Martini, made with local Rhodium coffee vodka. If you’re in the mood for food, head to Broadway, where you’ll find Leo’s Market, which serves up the best Latin cuisine in town. Step right up to the counter in the back of the store to order my personal favorite, the Al Pastor Tacos, featuring marinated adobada pork topped with fresh veggies, lots of cilantro and handcrafted spicy salsa verde. If you’re looking to channel your inner Gossip Girl, you can’t go wrong with Clarke Cooke House’s iconic Summer Sushi Bar, where you can see sushi chefs nimbly assemble tuna hand rolls, local shrimp sashimi, and seemingly endless plates of wakame seaweed salad. Get a seat by the open-air windows on the first floor — it’s the best people watching in town! After your feast, burn off the calories with a fun Newport Silver Screen walking tour offered through collaborative experience space Huddle. This 90-minute excursion takes guests to all the spots in town where film fabulousness was made, and even includes popcorn pairings from Inpopnito Popcorn along the way – Bacon and Waffles popcorn for The Demon Murder Case, a flick starring a 19-year-old Kevin Bacon, anyone?

Late Night:

Caffeine-addicted Rhode Islanders, rejoice! The Nitro Bar just opened a third location on Thames Street in Newport, but what sets this locale apart from the rest is the welcome addition of a late night menu, served on Friday and Saturday evenings ‘til 10. Select noshes include a housemade Crunchwrap that puts Taco Bell to shame, a giant hunk of Chocolate Pretzel Cake oozing with caramel in every bite, and of course, an affogato made with freshly brewed espresso and local black raspberry ice cream that will keep you up through the wee hours. Head down the street to take in a show at the Bit Players, another BYOB venue for improv comedy that’s been making folks laugh for over 10 years, and after a year of hiatus from the pandemic, they’re back with a full slate of shows for the summer, and as a lover of live theater, I couldn’t be more excited! Finally, after an exhausting but super fun day, you’ll want to crash at the Chart House Inn on Clarke Street, a comfortable and homey oasis just steps away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Newport. It’ll be easy to dream sweet dreams of your day in the City by the Sea as you drift off, and waking up to innkeeper Margaret Pardee’s homemade lemon poppyseed muffins at breakfast in the morning isn’t so bad, either!

There’s something truly special about Newport — it’s a meeting ground for travelers and townies alike, with something for everyone. It doesn’t matter if you’re looking for a low-key or super extra way to spend the day, because you’ll find it here, as Kurt Vonnegut once wrote, “in Newport, Rhode Island, USA, Solar System, Earth, Milky Way.”




Better Days Are Coming

When COVID cases decreased enough to allow for some shopping, Westminster Street got creative with Open Air Saturdays.

The usually heavily trafficked thoroughfare was closed to vehicles, allowing shoppers to wander the street while giving each other plenty of space. The event had to be postponed due to an uptick in cases, but business owners bouncing back from a long COVID winter’s nap are excited to continue this awesome initiative starting May 8.

Adam Buck, owner of Small Point Cafe, says, “Open Air Saturdays were awesome and got people to wander around the neighborhood and check out a lot of the shops and restaurants on Westminster Street. It was a bummer when we had to shut it down during the surge, but we’re excited to debut a brand new Coffee Cart with a house made Blood Orange Nitro and authentic Thai Iced Tea that we were able to acquire through RI’s Take It Outside program.” Some delish caffeine and sidewalk shopping? Sign me up!

Ongoing Saturdays beginning May 8, visit @indowncitypvd for more info