There’s something to say about the charm of a newly opened restaurant: freshly printed menus, new flavors, and an additional gathering spot for locals. But new businesses also add vibrancy to neighborhoods, typically taking over spaces that sat vacant for months or even years.
In Rhode Island, there have been scores of new restaurants and bars that have opened in the last several months with menus that range from “Jew-ish” pastries at a new bakeshop in Providence’s Mount Hope neighborhood, a cheese shop in Warren, to zero-proof plays on classic cocktail favorites at a new downtown bar owned by a congressman.
Here are a few new spots to check out heading into the new year.
CLEMENTINE, downtown Providence
Owned by Congressman David Cicilline and led by general manager and lead bartender Cristian Cantaragiu, Clementine is a boutique-sized cocktail bar in the same space where Birch restaurant used to be. The location is named after the Congressmen’s great-grandmother and features zero-proof offerings (Cicilline does not drink) and elevated cocktails that pack a punch. 200 Washington St., Providence, instagram.com/clementinecocktailbar.
OAK BAKESHOP, Mount Hope, Providence
Imagine a pastry case full of piles of golden rugelach. Hamantaschen. Knish. And Jerusalem bagels. (But alongside them, stacks of cookies, mounds of muffins, and loads of cinnamon buns.)
From the owners behind PVDonuts, the pastry gods led by Julia Menendez of Oak Bakeshop bring their own spin on traditional Jewish treats (they call it “Jew-ish”) with a full coffee bar. They don’t plan to be 100 percent kosher (hint the “-ish” part), but are offering some kosher products. Instead of being focused on breads, they’ll be specializing in pastries. 130 Cypress St. in Providence, oakbakeshop.com.
GREENWICH COVE KITCHEN, Cowesett, Warwick
A self-described New England coastal restaurant, Greenwich Cove Kitchen in Warwick serves comfort food classics for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Dinner entrees range from a bouillabaisse (seafood stew with shellfish and the catch of the day with tomato fennel broth), roasted flounder, and scallops with a potato gratin and mushroom cream. 3880 Post Road, Warwick, greenwichcovekitchen.com.
PICKEREL, West End, Providence
When Big King by chef James Mark closed in early July, the unassuming restaurant space in Luongo Square wasn’t empty for long. Pickerel, a new ramen restaurant, opened in its place this past fall by owners Scott LaChapelle, who has spent years trying out new ramen recipes, and Spencer Smith, who is leading the craft cocktail program. Millie Joslyn, who previously led the pastry program at Big King and then started selling her creative ice creams this past summer, has helped lead the pastry program and front of the house at Pickerel.
The restaurant keeps a simple and boutique-style menu to focus on selections like menma rice, classic shoyu, and a cabbage caesar with yuzu dressing and ichimi. 3 Luongo Square, Providence, instagram.com/pickerel_ri.
PINE STREET SOCIAL, Jewelry District, Providence
It was once Sidebar Bistro before it was Victor Spoils. Now the basement-level of 127 Dorrance St. has opened has Pine Street Social, an all-brick cocktail bar with bright pink accents. 127 Dorrance St., Providence, instagram.com/pinestreetsocial.
MOONSHINE ALLEY, downtown Providence
It was Challengers, McFadden’s, and then Hanley’s Ale House. Finally, Moonshine Alley has opened at the corner space at 52 Pine St. in Providence. The restaurant space was notorious for attracting rowdy college students until it sat empty from early 2019 to late October 2022 when the owners of Moonshine Alley opened their Nashville-inspired bar.
The kitchen is led by chef Randy Carvalho, who said everything is made from scratch including the hand-cut fries, tangy sauces, and meat rubs. While several venues in the area have live entertainment, Moonshine Alley is the only one dedicated to country music. 52 Pine St., Providence, moonshinealley.com.
WEDGE, Water Street, Warren
This one is more of a shop than it is a restaurant. The cheese shop Wedge, on property that was once a barge and then a storage facility, plans to open sometime this before Christmas in Warren. It’ll be fully women-owned, led by Sasha Goldman and Chelsea Morrissey, who both live in Barrington. They plan to partner with local makers and artisans to sell their products in the shop, along with their ready-made boards, custom orders, or individual cheeses to bring home. 279 Water St., Warren, instagram.com/wedgerhodeisland.
TWELVE 21, Federal Hill, Providence
A modern American restaurant with a hookah lounge and live music, Twelve 21 is led by chef Jason Amott. Amott started his career about three decades ago when he attended Johnson & Wales University before moving on to Le Cordon Blue. He brings more of an elevated twist to food served with hookah, such as an iron-seared Norwegian salmon with a Langoustine Beurre Blanc, smoked seafood boards, and desserts like cider beignets and cabernet chocolate and cherry gateaux. 248 Atwells Ave., Providence, twelve21ri.com.
JAZZY’S, Hope Street, Providence
Nestor and Patricia Noriega have opened Jazzy’s, named for their daughter, in the same space Chez Pascal used to be. They categorize the new restaurant, which opened in late October, as “upscale breakfast,” and an entire section of the menu is dedicated to “South of the Border” where carnitas-filled omelettes rule. They plan on opening the rooftop for additional seating sometime next year. The couple also own Emmily’s in Johnston. 960 Hope St., Providence, facebook.com/Jazzy’s.
Know of another great spot that recently opened in Rhode Island? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.