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Rhode Island Restaurants

Michaela Atiae, Staff Writer

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There’s a school of thought that are Hamptons people, and then there are Rhode Island people. And then there are those of us who are both, because we think it’s equal opportunity to enjoy the sunshine in a quintessentially beautiful place. So, for your next trip to Newport, this is your restaurant list.

For the Scene

The Restaurant: Clarke Cooke House

The Location: Newport, Rhode Island


The Clarke Cooke House. Courtesy of The Clarke Cooke House.

Clarke Cooke House has to be at the start of this list because it iconically has everything you’d want in a New England joint. The dining experience is multi-leveled, so you can make your rounds from a cocktail at The Sky Bar to the Bistro and Candy Store, and take the party downstairs to the Boom Boom Room for dancing. 

Sometimes beachy decor can be a tad tacky, but Clarke Cooke House elevates traditional beach accents. So you’re still experiencing the magic of the seaside but with the sophistication of fine dining. In other words, come dressed up when you dock the yacht. You’ll be able to get your lobster roll fix, a renowned wine selection, and party in the same building Captain James Cook and other notable captains once frequented. It’s worth the voyage.

The Restaurant: Olympia Tea Room

The Location: Watch Hill, Rhode Island

Olympia Tea Room. Courtesy of Olympia Tea Room on Facebook.

Another restaurant known for its historical atmosphere, Olympia Tea Room is older than the prohibition era. It started as a soda shop and still maintains many of those elements. Don’t worry, a ban on booze is not one of them. Quite the contrary, with over 100 award-winning wines by the bottle.

Watch Hill is a fitting name for the area because the restaurant is perched by the docks for gorgeous waterfront sunset viewings. The restaurant closes in the fall season, so now through the summer is the time to go for a more casual seafood experience. No reservation is needed.

For the Food

The Restaurant: The Shanty

The Location: Warwick, Rhode Island


Seared Sea Scallops at The Shanty. Courtesy of the Shanty on Facebook.

The Shanty is where to go for an elevated comfort meal, this includes the epitome of comfort food, the T.V. dinner. We’re not talking soggy microwave veggies. This T.V. dinner includes buttermilk fried cornish game hen, smoked cheddar mac & cheese, slaw, maple carrots, and cranberry apple cobbler.

Many ingredients are locally sourced, including the coffee supplied for your morning brew or cocktail – no judgment here. The coffee-infused cocktails are made with nitro coffee and have fun names like Tipsy Wilbur and Adult Chocolate Milk. They’re open seven days a week, so keep this one in your back pocket when you’re craving classic American or some good old caffeine. 

The Restaurant: Ella’s Food & Drink

The Location: Westerly, Rhode Island

Pan Seared Atlantic Halibut with Butter poached Lobster at Ella’s Food and Drink. Courtesy of Ella’s Food and Drink on Facebook.

Despite the name: Ella’s Food & Drink, seven-time James Beard Foundation nominee for “Best Chef: South,” Jeanie Roland is the owner. You’re probably wondering how the name originated. When Chef Roland bought the restaurant, she honored the mother of the prior Italian family owned restaurant- Eleanor.

Roland runs the restaurant with her husband based on a cruelty-free approach and French-Asian influence. So you can expect dishes like Red Thai Curry Mussels and Crispy Confit of Duck. That said, Roland changes the menu seasonally, allowing you to try new things. The Food Network champ’s restaurant is on Taylor Swift’s list, and now it’s on yours.

 For the Location

The Restaurant: Wickford on the Water

The Location: North Kingstown, Rhode Island

Wickford on the Water. Courtesy of Wickford on the Water on Facebook.

There’s nothing better than having a delicious meal near a picturesque waterfront; Wickford on the Water does just that. If you’re planning a day trip, you can enjoy a boat ride with a rest stop for a cocktail or fish and chips. The restaurant has just introduced a new brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays, serving shareables featuring Prince Edward Island Mussels and Lobster Frittata for breakfast. Perhaps the best news, the outdoor patio is dog-friendly, so your furry friends can join in the fun.

The Restaurant: Matunuck Oyster Bar

The Location: Wakefield, Rhode Island


Matunuck Oyster Bar. Courtesy of Matunuck Oyster Bar on Facebook.

Matunuck Oyster Bar is a good option if you want the convenience of your excursion and meal in the same place. Owner, Perry Raso is a seafood expert, and we are not exaggerating. Raso has a master’s degree in aquaculture and fisheries technology. In 2002, he opened an oyster farm on Potter Pond.

It wasn’t until 2009 that he bought the nearby restaurant property to sell pond to plate. You can sit on the patio with a view and eat from the impressive raw bar menu. Raso gives educational tours of the different species of shellfish sold at the restaurant; while not a requirement, booking the tour and a reservation is the way to go. 

For a Last Minute Reservation with a Large Party

The Restaurant: Midtown Oyster Bar

The Location: Newport, Rhode Island

Midtown Oyster Bar. Courtesy of Midtown Oyster Bar on Facebook.

It seems almost impossible to get a large party reservation spontaneously, especially with a solid atmosphere and reliable food. Luckily, if your group happens to be in Rhode Island this spot miraculously checks all those boxes. Midtown Oyster Bar can most likely accommodate because of its sheer size.

The two story building has two bars, three dining rooms, and three outside decks. The menu is equally hefty, with many seafood options and shared platters for a communal eating experience. The luxury of choosing between drinks or dinner with a big group is hard to swing the week of, Midtown Oyster gives you the option. 

For a Rooftop View

The Restaurant: The Roof Deck at The Vanderbilt

Location: Newport, Rhode Island


The Roof Deck at The Vanderbilt. Courtesy of The Vanderbilt, Auberge Resorts Collection on Facebook.

The Roof Deck at The Vanderbilt is atop The Vanderbilt Mansion and has panoramic views of Newport Harbor and Claiborne Pell Bridge. The deck officially opens on May 3, but the opening soiree is on May 10. You can go for a craft cocktail on a weekday for a more chill vibe. However, if you’re in search of a party and who doesn’t love a summer rooftop party? The Roof Deck at The Vanderbilt will host Sunday Sounds starting May 26, with a D.J. playing anything from yacht rock to Afro-Cuban. It’s also great for the Fourth of July. Small bites, cocktails, and fireworks , who’s in? 

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