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A Tank Away

Night life in Westerly, R.I., a surprising draw for singles, couples

Bridge restaurant is perched over the Pawcatuck River, which divides Westerly, R.I., from Pawcatuck, Conn.
Bridge restaurant is perched over the Pawcatuck River, which divides Westerly, R.I., from Pawcatuck, Conn.Ellen Albanese for The Boston Globe

Buoyed by the opening of two historic seaside inns in the last year, Rhode Island’s westernmost and southernmost town is enjoying a bit of a resurgence. Along with the lodging additions, some of the newcomers to town include restaurants, brew pubs, and wine bars, many of which offer live music, making Westerly’s night life a surprising new draw for singles and couples.


The newest lodging in town is the Weekapaug Inn (25 Salt Spray Rock Road, 401-322-0301, www.weekapauginn.com, from $190 offseason, from $445 peak season), which has reopened after a $15 million renovation. The brown-shingled buildings overlooking Quonochontaug Pond and the Atlantic beyond were designed to replicate the inn in its early-20th-century heyday. The Weekapaug is under the same ownership as another relatively new luxury inn, the Ocean House (1 Bluff Ave., 401-584-7000, from $260 offseason, from $595 peak season), just 5 miles away in the village of Watch Hill. Considerably larger and slightly more upscale, the Ocean House is a Relais & Chateaux property with an onsite spa. Shelter Harbor Inn (10 Wagner Road, 401-322-8883, www.shelterharbor
inn.com, $106-$258) offers more economical, comfortable accommodations in an early-1800s farmhouse near the ocean. At the Mediterranean-themed Villa Bed & Breakfast (190 Shore Road, 401-596-1054, 800-722-9240, www.thevillaatwesterly
.com, $115-$305) many of the rooms have fireplaces and Jacuzzis, and every square foot of the property is brightened with flowering plants.


Occupying one of the most scenic spots in town, perched above the Pawcatuck River, Bridge (37 Main St., 401-348-9700, www.bridgeri.com, lunch $5-$17, dinner $5-$25) offers several vegetarian and vegan choices on its menu. Mushroom ravioli and grilled fish tacos are especially popular items, our waitress told us. At Ella’s Fine Food and Drink (2 Tower St., 401-315-0606, www.ellasfine
foodanddrink.com, dinner $17-
$45), in a striking flatiron-shaped, red brick building, chef Jeanie Roland and her husband and business manager, James Roland, present a combination of Asian fusion and French foods using locally sourced ingredients and organic meats. At 84 High Street (84 High St., 401-596-7871, www.84highstreet.com, lunch $7-$13, dinner $10-$26), a casual eatery across from Wilcox Park, the kitchen specializes in regional American cuisine, using as much as possible from local farmers. Creative pastas, available in half and full portions, are especially popular. One of the few places in the village of Watch Hill that is open year round, The Cooked Goose (92 Watch Hill Road, 401-348-9888, www.thecookedgoose
.com, breakfast $4.50-$13, lunch $8-$14) offers a creative selection of sandwiches, salads, quiche, and homemade soups at lunch; truffled eggs are a breakfast specialty.



Pick up brochures and maps at the well-stocked Greater Westerly-Pawcatuck Area Chamber of Commerce Visitors Center (1 Chamber Way, 401-596-7761, www.westerlycham
ber.org). Then follow the scent of chocolate to Hauser Chocolatier (59 Tom Harvey Road, 401-596-8866, www.hauserchocolates
.com). From a small exhibit area in the back of the retail store — which displays cacao beans, antique tin candy molds, and custom candy boxes — you can get a glimpse into the factory. Try the signature “chocolate lace” or a blueberry port truffle. Taste Weekapaug White, Watch Hill Merlot, and other local vintages at Langworthy Farm Winery (308 Shore Road, 401-322-7791, www.langworthyfarm.com). This year’s Riesling is particularly good, said winemaker Joe Sharry. The Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly (7 Canal St., 401-596-2221, www.westerly
arts.com) is celebrating its 20th year. Openings are held from 5 to 8 p.m. on the first Wednesday of each month during the Westerly-Pawcatuck Art Stroll. This month’s show, which opens Wednesday, is “Small Treasures.” If the weather is fine, stroll through lovely Wilcox Park, behind the yellow-brick, Roman-esque Westerly Public Library (44 Broad St.). The 14-acre site, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted protégé Warren Manning in 1899. Rent skates at or bring your own to the Washington Trust Community Skating Center (61 Main St., 401-637-7902, www.ocean
communityymca.org), with 12,000 square feet of ice. Opening day is Nov. 23.



An assortment of distinctive drinking, noshing, and listening venues makes Westerly a nightlife destination. Perks & Corks (48 High St., 401-596-1260, www.perksandcorks.com) started the trend when it opened 12 years ago. A coffee lounge by day, it’s a martini bar at night with 55 varieties and live music six nights a week. A few doors down, The Malted Barley (42 High St., 401-315-2184, www
.themaltedbarleyri.com), which opened last year, serves 35 beers on tap as well as hard cider and root beer. The entire food menu is based on soft pretzels, which are made to order and turned into appetizers, sandwiches, and even desserts. There’s entertainment five nights a week. The Twisted Vine (3 Canal St., 401-596-4600) opened in September in an expansive space with high ceilings, dark wood, and exposed brick. The wine list includes several from local vineyards, and the owners intend to offer piano music a couple of nights a week. The Knickerbocker Cafe (35 Railroad Ave., 401-315-5070, www. theknickerbock
ercafe.com) draws name entertainers in jazz and blues music and offers free dance lessons on Wednesday nights. For more sedate entertainment, the handsome Granite Theatre (1 Granite St., 401-596-2341, www.granite
theatre.com), housed in a restored Greek Revival church, stages Broadway plays, children’s plays, lecture programs, cabaret acts, and more year round. “Godspell” continues through Nov. 18.


Ellen Albanese can be reached at ellen.albanese@gmail.com.