From downtown Providence’s first grocery store in decades closing after just a year in business to PVDonuts going up for sale, there have been plenty of changes in Rhode Island’s restaurant scene in the last few months.
The ever-popular Riffraff Bookstore and Bar has been sold to new owners who once held their baby shower in between the stacks of books. Oberlin has moved across the street into its new space, and The Shop in Providence’s Fox Point neighborhood is closing its doors on Nov. 14.
Just in time for the holiday parties and winter chill, new restaurant and bar concepts are opening across Rhode Island. From traditional Jewish delis to a biscuit nook, and tea shops to hidden bars that require a passcode to get in, here are a few places that opened — or are coming soon — this fall.
Between the zebra-printed curtains, Victorian couches, and chandeliers dripping in crystals, Myrtle is where a retro bar, antique shop, and rock and roll music venue met and had a baby. Owners Natalie Vanlandingham and Tommy Allen are artists and musicians who combined their interests into one place, and where you can literally purchase the items you see on the walls. The East Providence hangout, which has a rotating schedule of local musicians coming to perform, features local spirits from makers like Don Nacho Tequila, Island Coquito, and wine distributors like Brands of Portugal. 134 Waterman Ave., East Providence, stay updated on Instagram.
A short walk from Westerly’s Amtrak train station, Bar Pisco is a new Peruvian restaurant that’s putting it’s own spin on traditional dishes. They opened in late September, and where crudo dishes are a staple, such as a fluke ceviche with leche de tigre and sweet potato; and raw scallop tiradito with white corn, chili oil, cilantro, and green onion. Small plates include roasted pork buns, roasted yuca with three salsas, and empanadas with a beef saltado filling. The restaurant, which initially opened as Bar Emilia, is operated by Shoreline Hospitality Group, which also owns restaurants in Mystic, Connecticut. 1 Railroad Ave., Westerly, piscowesterly.com.
Chicago native Amber Jackson started developing her own teas in 2019, and her business quickly flourished into a well-known online brand. Since then, she has been selling her blends like “Haze” (which turns blue, and is made of butterfly pea flower, lavender, and lemongrass) and “CoCo Bae” (which is a Keemun Snail black tea with roasted cacao nibs and coconut flakes) on her website.
In October, Jackson swung open the doors to Black Leaf’s first-ever brick and mortar cafe in the Olneyville neighborhood. Jackson says the goal of the shop, which has corners dedicated to books and other work by Black authors and creators, is to “use the communal traditions of tea and herbs to engage the community and celebrate Black culture.” Keep your eye out for upcoming events. 52A Valley St., Providence, theblackleaftea.com.
Irregardless Biscuit has been a well-loved pop-up since it broke out in Rhode Island’s culinary scene in 2020 by James Dean (who also owns Slow Rhode with Patsy Wilson and Patrick Lowney). Originally from North Carolina, Dean used his grandmother’s biscuit recipe using flour from mills in his hometown.
Clearly the recipe was a hit with us northerners, as the “pop-up” will be no longer. Dean and partner Joe Hafner have transitioned the former (and very tiny) Kitchen space into Irregardless’ permanent home. Kitchen, another beloved breakfast place, was run by Howard Crofts before he died from cancer in 2022. It has sat empty since his passing.
Hafner previously worked as the head chef of Gracie’s, was filmmaker Wes Anderson’s private chef, and has cooked all over the country — from Nantucket to Santa Barbara, Philadelphia to Wyoming. At Irregardless, Hafner will run the day-to-day operations. 94 Carpenter St., Providence, stay updated on Instagram.
PINOY KABAYAN FILIPINO ASIAN CUISINE
Beef mechado, traditional Pancit Guisado, and Lumpia (delicious spring rolls that hail from the Philippines) are also staple items on the menu at Pinoy Kabayan Filipino Asian Cuisine. The new owners recently took over from the operators of Sea Shay restaurant, and have a second location in Boston. 747 Aquidneck Ave. #1b, Middletown, 401-380-7495, stay updated on Facebook.
Sometimes it feels as though every new bar opening in America claims to be a “speakeasy.” Putting a massive sign on the side of the road with the name of your bar immediately disqualifies you from using that term in your branding. It takes a special kind of place to truly pull it off, and can be found inside the Room & Works building on Cromwell Avenue.
Owners Brian Oakley and Morgan Snyder opened Juniper Bar in early August, but is still an unknown gem. It’s the same space where High Dive (which was open for less than a year) and Far West used to be. Be prepared to drink some delicious cocktails over a cabaret show or other shenanigans. Oh, and you’ll need to hunt their social media for the password (which changes weekly) to actually get into the industrial building. 55 Cromwell St., Providence, stay updated on Instagram.
Teetering over Providence and Pawtucket’s city borders is a storefront that has become one of the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year: a classic, Jewish deli. Opening a classic delicatessen that resembles something like Katz on the Lower East Side, or 2nd Ave Deli in Murray Hill (or their Upper East Side branch) has been on restaurateur Jason Sugarman’s mind for more than a decade. He’s allegedly been collecting deli menus and speaking to owners all over the country, and plans to open his passion project — Maven’s Delicatessen — during the last week of November.
The space will have 100 seats, and all menu items will be cooked in-house — from rye bread to noodle kugel. 727 East Ave., Pawtucket, mavensdeli.com.
MR. R FUSION
From the same team that brought Rhode Island the Pasta Beach brand, Mr. R is a new fusion BYOB spot where dishes are meant to be shared at the table. They have four variations of dumplings, which include parmigiana with pan fried eggplant, steam pulled pork dumplings topped with spicy chili oil, “French Onion” with pan fried beef and gruyere cheese, and spicy Nduja shrimp topped with a ginger mayo.
Their rice gnocchi is Korean rice cakes with pork ragu, and fried garlic. The seafood curry is bright with Asian greens and spiced mango. There’s some Rhode Island favorites, too, such as the clam shooters using grilled quahogs with soy scallion sauce. 7 Memorial Blvd., Newport, 401-843-8127, mrrfusion.com.
Stacy Deetz has been working in restaurants for the last two decades — from running the kitchen at The Inn at Hastings Park in Lexington, Mass., cooking at The James Beard House in New York City, to competing on the television show “Top Chef” about a decade ago. In 2015, Deetz (then Stacy Cogswell) published “The New New England Cookbook: 125 Traditional Recipes,” which she considers her “love letter” to the region she’s known all her life. Recipes include roasted monkfish with farro risotto, braised pork shanks with spinach dumplings, and desserts like a walnut brown butter cake with roasted apples.
Deetz and her husband Robert plan on opening the Hangry Kitchen in Pawtucket in mid-November. It’s a new American bistro serving neighborhood comfort dishes that speak to her love for New England’s quintessential bites. 542 Pawtucket Ave., Pawtucket, 401-424-5812, hangry-kitchen.com.
MAHAHENG HOT POT AND BOWL
The owners behind Tong-D, a Thai restaurant in Barrington, and Heng, a Thai rotisserie spot in Providence, are opening a third location that will specialize in hot pot. MahaHeng Hot Pot and Bowl will soon open on College Hill on Angell Street, in the same building where Heng is located. They have not yet finalized their menu, but look forward to any new products they might be coming out with. 165 Angell St., Providence, stay updated on Instagram.
THE GREEN ROOM KITCHEN & BAR
Attached to the Fête Music Hall, the former site of the Shelter Arcade Bar and Bad Fit is getting a new restaurant. On Nov. 18, The Green Room Kitchen & Bar is expected to open to serve late-night street food like stuffed padron peppers, corn peppers, and empanadas. The beverage program is said to be focused primarily on the local brewery scene, but their drink menu has yet to be finalized. 103 Dike St., Providence, 401-383-1112, fetemusic.com/thegreenroom.
CEVICHES BY DIVINO
About a year after the Miami-area chain Ceviches by Devino opened its first northern location on the ground floor of the River House in Providence, partner Ali Alejandro Quero decided to go off on his own — but with the Ceviches brand. Quero, a sommelier who broke into the industry working for the popular Los Andes restaurant, recently opened Ceviches in Chapel View in Cranston. He’s still serving Peruvian dishes — like Pulpo Anticuchero and Lomo Saltado — that are found at the Providence Ceviches, while bringing funky natural wines into the mix. 1000 Chapel View Blvd #100, Cranston, 401-281-8128, cevichesbydivino.com/cranston.
Formerly the space of Huck’s Filing Station, Scotti’s Salumeria opened in August emphasizing Roman cuisine with pizzas and focaccia, and Southern Italian antipasto and pastas. Ingredients like piennolo tomatoes and burrata are imported. The restaurant is named after and inspired by owner Marco Scott’s family, who partnered with Jeffery Quinlan and Edward Brady — well-known figures in Rhode Island’s restaurant scene — on the project. The executive chef is Armando Bisceglia, who was born in Naples, Italy, and now owns Bacco Vino & Contorni in Providence’s Federal Hill neighborhood. 4654 Post Road, East Greenwich, 401-471-7170, scottissalumeria.com.
HOOKED SEAFOOD BAR AND GRILL
When a spot opened up next door, owner Tony Lorusso of Viesté Simply Italian decided it was time to open their sister restaurant concept. Viesté focuses on Italian plates, and Hooked Seafood Bar and Grill features fresh seafood, grilled steaks, and colorful salads. The restaurant is open Wednesdays through Sundays starting at 4:30 p.m. 580 Thames St. Newport, 401-324-5905, hooked-newport.com.
Know of another great spot that recently opened or is coming soon in Rhode Island? Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.