March Madness: Rhode Island Restaurants, Artisan Foodmakers, Brewers and Distillers Making Buzzer-Beating News
March 5, 2023
If you live in Southern New England, or you’re visiting here, you basically have the luck of the Irish. That’s because Rhode Island, despite being the smallest state, is making big food news. While we love our iconic eats and drinks, including stuffies, calamari, coffee milk, Del’s Lemonade and Olneyville New York System Weiners, Rhode Island restaurants, artisan foodmakers, brewers and distillers are always keeping it fresh with new finds and flavors. From Rhode Island coffee shops and bakeries to desserts and distilled spirits, we’ve got you covered.
In the spirit of March Madness, we’ve rounded up some local food news and must-trys that are a slam dunk.
Coffee & Pastry
Two new spots are making sure Rhode Islanders are getting their morning java, mid-afternoon jolt, or end-of-day- caffinated euphoria. CoCo’s Cafe Bar in the historic Arcade has a comfortable loungy vibe that invites you to stay a while. A women-owned small business that offers both delicious coffee drinks and decadent cocktails, Coco’s is an extraordinary addition to Downcity.
Nestled in the heart of Smith Hill, Rise ‘n Shine Coffee Bar has a hint of Luke’s Diner, for any Gilmore Girls fans. Housed on the first floor of the 1858 Christopher Dodge Carriage House on Holden Street just behind the Foundry complex, you’ll find vintage décor that pays homage to the address’s past, including an old fashioned shoe shine stand for seating and shoe making molds along the wall in a nod to the owner’s great-grandfather’s profession: a cobbler. The coffee bar’s talented baristas serve up locally roasted organic coffee, while fresh daily pastries please the palate. Caffeinated remote workers take note: there’s Wi-Fi, indoor and outdoor seating.
Oak Bakeshop’s take on traditional Jewish treats along with other classic pastries has made a splash in Providence since opening this past November. We’re talking hamantaschen, rugelach, Jerusalem bagels, challah and knish, but also cookies, muffins, cinnamon buns, scones and breakfast sandwiches. When it comes to beverages, Oak Bakeshop serves up all the espresso drinks. But know this: there’s no set menu. Items produced during their morning bake might be available earlier one day and later another day. Their pastry team bakes throughout the morning and puts out pastries and savory goods as they’re ready. So go often.
Chocolate & Desserts
Made in Wakefield, Rhode Island, Allumé Chocolate’s artisanal hand-painted chocolate confections are more than a treat – they’re an experience. These stunning small-batch confections are made from fresh local products combined with the finest ethically sourced ingredients from around the world, including their proprietary blend of French and Belgian chocolates. The local company ship from coast to coast.
We raved about newcomer Hawt Chocolate during the holiday season and now we’re ready to do it again. Now, just in time for spring, Hawt has debuted a new robin’s egg chocolate – a beautiful blue chocolate shell layered with salted caramel and chocolate chip cookie chunks. Hawt, which is an acronym for “Having a Wonderful Time,” was founded by Miguel Allis from Mexico City. As such, he’s recently introduced a taste of his home with “Mexcal Chocolate.” Straight from Oaxaca, Hawt’s mezcal chocolate is downright boozy, smokey and offers intense flavor.
Ellie’s has long been adored for it’s savories, pastries and overall Parisian vibe, (one word: macaroons), but the iconic eatery has added a new concept: Dessert Le Bar. Unfolding Thursdays through Sundays, 6pm to close, the evening indulgences include “confections, cocktails and coffee.” Cookie butter caramel cream croissants with a New Harvest coffee? Sounds like a plan!
Restaurants & Cocktails
Jazzy’s is perfectly perched on Hope Street on the East Side in a space that was the former hope to the beloved Chez Pascal. While some might say that’s some big shoes to fill, Jazzy’s carving out a history all their own. Breakfast, lunch and a full bar let’s diners enjoy a great start to their day!
In Warren, Chomp is putting the finishing touches on their new location at 279 Water Street – a project that’s been two years in the making and is finally close to the finish line. The digs may be new but you can still expect the nationally recognized and award-winning burgers, sandwiches and beer Chomp is known for.
Also in Warren, Bywater owner Katie Dickson has launched a capital campaign to raise funds to reopen the Bakeshop across the street. Some may remember that during the pandemic, Bywater pivoted, launching a number of offshoots including prepared foods, corporate gifting/retail, and most memorably, The Bakeshop, a cafe pop-up offering sourdough breads, European-style pastries, and artisanal roasted coffee and espresso. Now, with an opportunity to participate in the Hope Street Farmers Market – the busiest market in Rhode Island, Dickson is working to make The Bakeshop a permanent reality, right across the street from her very popular restaurant.
Newport is eagerly anticipating the opening of Mother Pizzeria on Long Wharf Mall, a pedestrian stretch bookended by America’s Cup Avenue and Washington Square,. Thea neighborhood pizzeria in downtown Newport will be a partnership between a trio best known for island hot spot Giusto chef/owner Kevin O’Donnell, executive chef Kyle Stamps and Giusto general manager Lauren Schaefer. The restaurant will have a casual, urban feel and diners will be able to choose between two unique experiences: a quick counter-style to-go reminiscent of a Roman café, and a dining room and bar with the same quality, service and hospitality for which Giusto is known. A Neapolitan-style pizza oven will be the focal point of the semi-open kitchen where guests can sit at a small counter to enjoy the action. Guests will find Roman-style pizza at the to-go counter, while the dining room menu will focus on sourdough pizza using local stone ground wheat plus cured meats, tin and house-cured fish and local cheeses served with a variety of breads all baked in-house. The bar will feature Italian-centric cocktails, approachable wines and craft beers. The restaurant will be open seven days a week for lunch and dinner.
Paying Homage to Fromage
Warren’s newest cheese shop, Wedge, is the kind of shop that makes you want to trade in your career for cheese mongering. The refrigerated, cheese-filled cases run the entire length of the sun-drenched space on Water Street. Order a cheese like or charcuterie board, sample artisan cheese from near and far like Siefried’s Pride, a favorite from High Lawn Farm, stock up on gourmet food stuffs like date and cumin chutney or brown butter dark chocolate from Good Now Farms, and be happy as can be.
Rind is a locally and family-owned artisanal cheese and gourmet foods shop in Barrington charming folks with its down home feel. The ever-evolving curated selection of domestic and imported cheeses, charcuterie, jams, honey, chocolates, olives, and many more specialty food items are top notch.
For the first time ever, Mozz in Newport has introduced cheese and pasta-making classes. Learn how to make your very own cheese under the tutelage of Luca Mignogna, a masterful artisanal cheesemaker. You’ll start with fresh local milk and end with Primo Sale, a fresh farmers cheese.Mignogna also teaches you how to make delicious homemade pasta with 2-3 simple ingredients.
Home & Main earned enviable acclaim as Rhode Island’s first official food incubator when it opened in Warren in 2014. Today, it is home to more than 50 independent food-related companies looking to develop and expand their businesses. In January of this year, Hope & Main unveiled its latest venture: the Downtown Makers Market. Stocking the shelves with hand-crafted, small batch pantry items, gifts, and a wide selection of freshly prepared and packaged foods from emerging and iconic artisan makers, and serving fresh breakfast and lunch options, it’s already a hit in the Capital City. Insider’s tip: before you start shopping, grab a refreshment from Schasteâ, a craft beverage bar there serving coffee, espresso, and their signature blends.
Rhode Island Spirits, makers of the Rhodium brand of gins, vodkas and liqueurs, opened four years ago in Pawtucket. At the end of March, owners Cathy Plourde and Kara Larson will open the doors of their new facility they’ve been working on across town, near The Guild brewery and beer hall and a block from the Pawtucket/Central Falls MBTA railway station. Think: new tasting room, new distillery, new event space. Cheers!
The Ocean State might be the smallest in the U.S. but it has a wave of exciting new food and beverage openings and events to check out!