South County might seem small at times, but it’s filled with incredible culinary talent.
If you’ve been going to the same tried-and-true eateries and are looking for something new, we have good news – six new establishments opened or reopened with new proprietors in the last six months, all locally owned. That’s six new places to add to your repertoire. We checked them out to give you a little rundown so you know which you want to hit first. Cheers!
After being vacant for a few years, Wilcox Tavern is once again welcoming guests to dine where Joseph Stanton Jr., one of the first two senators from Rhode Island, was born in 1739.
Mia Byrnes, who also owns Mia’s Prime Time Cafe in Pawcatuck, says her goal in reopening the beloved tavern is to offer simple, classic American cuisine priced for the locals. “There’s such a great charm here,” she says, adding that she’s kept all of the original hardwood floors and the low ceilings. “I fell in love immediately when I saw this place because it reminds me of the home I grew up in on Long Island. There’s so much warmth and coziness, and I think the community has really latched onto that and it’s become a place for the locals to come hang their hats.”
Their signature menu items are a hit, including pot roast, tavern garlic bread, stuffed codfish, stuffed shrimp, prime rib and fish and chips. “We work at ensuring that our product is fresh, high quality and reasonably priced for the locals,” says Byrnes. “We’ve earned a great reputation in Pawcatuck and are so grateful to our loyal clientele for coming to Wilcox Tavern and making our first few months a great success.”
If you haven’t noticed by the packed parking lot, the old Carriage Inn, now called Dan’s Carriage Inn & Saloon, has reopened under the ownership of experienced restaurateur Dan Hebert, owner of Dan’s Place in West Greenwich.
After spending most of 2017 renovating, he reopened the new and improved restaurant in December. One of the biggest draws was the banquet facility, Hebert says, where he’s hosted comedy and entertainment shows and whiskey dinners. Some of the other changes include a more eclectic menu, an improved interior layout with more natural lighting and dinner seating in the whiskey bar. “The word is that North Kingstown doesn’t have any place to eat, and we were getting a lot of NK customers at Dan’s Place in West Greenwich,” says Hebert. “The Carriage Inn had a lot of character and we’ve kept all that but have just tried to add some new flair to the place.” ￼
It’s every home-brewer’s dream to open their own brewery. Well, Josh Letourneau and Chip Samson have been living out that dream since launching the newest spot for craft brews: Shaidzon Brewery.
They acquired the equipment and space formerly utilized by Proclamation Brewing, which just moved to Warwick, and have been doing a booming business since opening in November. Samson says Shaidzon, as in “shades on,” is a made-up name he thought of while driving with the sun in his eyes.
Since opening, the two say they’ve been working hard to offer a range of global brews and have committed to offering a diverse and varied menu. A few of their offerings, which rotate regularly, include a German black lager, a French farmhouse-style ale, a Belgian-style quadrupel, an American-style IPA and a Czech-style pilsner. “One of the slogans we’ve been using is ‘inspired globally, brewed locally,’ and I think that really sums up what we’re all about,” says Samson.
It might have the same name, but the beloved waterfront café has been almost entirely revamped since Greg Stevens purchased and reopened the Wickford establishment. Along with a full breakfast and lunch menu, the full-service restaurant will soon be open for dinner Thursday through Sunday nights and will begin utilizing the outdoor deck as a bar and dining area in the spring. “We want to take advantage of the gorgeous view that we have here of the harbor,” says Stevens. “We’ve got 1,000 square feet to work with on the deck, which will fit 12 to 14 tables.”
As the season picks up and the cafe starts serving dinner, Stevens says he’ll be adding more items to the menu. For now, he wants to be known as the go-to spot for fresh, local lobster rolls.
Before Jane LeBlanc opened The Flatts last fall at the site of the former Giro’s – the first restaurant in South Kingstown to ever receive a liquor license – there weren’t any sit-down restaurants in the tight-knit Peace Dale community.
LeBlanc, a realtor, decided she wanted to open an eatery there after showing the space to a prospective buyer. In typical Rhode Island style, a slew of local connections helped her open The Flatts without a hitch. So far, the restaurant, which is named for the Peace Dale village center that’s long been known as The Flats, has been a smashing success. “I wanted this to be the place where you walk in and always recognize someone,” says LeBlanc. “It’s what Giro’s once was – the place where you’d go and hang out with your friends, and your kids saw their friends, too. It’s like a community-gathering place with great food.”
Aside from being the go-to spot in the neighborhood, The Flatts is one spot offering house-smoked meats and house-made BBQ sauces. Menu favorites include the mac and cheese bowls, buffalo cauliflower and edamame with Pop Rocks.
Mariner Square, 140 Point Judith Road, Narragansett
There’s nothing quite like it in Narragansett, which is exactly what owner Mark Parenteau was going for when he opened Proof Prohibition-style restaurant.
Without a freezer or microwave, chef Joey Medeiros makes everything in-house and sources all produce, meat and seafood locally, each day. Parenteau says he’s hoping to offer a rotating menu, as Medeiros’ daily specials have been outselling the menu recently. “We’ve taken entrees from around the world and shrunk them down on small plates and then put our own spin on it,” says Parenteau.
So far, some of the most popular items are their short rib chuck and brisket slider made from a meat grind specially produced by Sunset Farms, Thai chili mussels and littlenecks and a lobster grilled cheese slider.
What’s a good restaurant without good atmosphere? Proof has that in spades – from the brick walls to the tin ceiling and shuffleboard, you’d swear you stepped back into the 1930s.