A wrong turn took Domenic and Jane Bitto to the right place. In 1986, the young couple were driving through Rhode Island to locate a restaurant they were considering for purchase. But Domenic got lost and, drawn by Evelyn's Drive In's bright red walls and its waterfront location, he pulled into the restaurant for lunch. The eponymous owner, a no-nonsense spitfire, happened to be looking for the right buyers; the three clicked, and soon the keys and fryer baskets of Evelyn’s Drive In were turned over to Domenic and Jane. Today, the couple remains faithful to the fish and shellfish recipes Evelyn had used since 1969, earning them a spot on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives. Domenic carefully selects the fresh, local seafood himself, choosing the freshest whole-belly clams to lightly bread and deep-fry into one of his wife’s—and customers'—favorite dishes. Other menu items also stay true to Evelyn’s original recipes, such as the rhode island chowder, a clear-broth chowder with cream added just before serving. The lobster rolls keep it simple, with fresh, sweet lobster meat lining a hot-dog bun and all accouterments, such as mustard and mayo, kept on the side. Jane and Domenic’s original contributions to the menu include salads topped with salmon or lobster and sandwiches wrapped in tortillas instead of pages from the hoagies section of Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Every spring, the Bittos fling open the Drive In's doors for the season, welcoming in generations of families as well as regulars who've been digging into their dishes for years. Outside, the Bittos have converted the old carport into an outdoor patio, where diners might hear ghosts of old Thunderbirds honking their horns in search for their fish 'n' chips. Inside, a blue-and-white nautical theme dominates, and regulars belly up to the U-shaped counter installed by Evelyn herself. A more new-fangled object, the BioBug —a Volkswagen Beetle that runs on the kitchen's used fryer oil and was a longtime dream of Jane's—often rolls through town promoting eco-friendly causes.
15 Point Road, A special treat in Portsmouth Rhode Island along the Sakonnet River. Busy, but not crowded, with an enchanting moonlit river view. A traditional menu pleases most everyone and house specialties are an ever-changing eclectic delight of innovative and contemporary dishes.
Sun brings to life the goldenrod walls and vases of cut flowers in Tavern By The Sea's dining room, which opens onto the sailboat-speckled mirror of Wickford Harbor. Crisp linens cloak tables and serve as positive role models for young ghosts, and the sizzle of oil drifts into the dining room, laden with the scent of fish 'n' chips breaded in Sam Adams. Drifting strands of steam unfurl from bowls of lobster bisque, and chowders don crowns of cracker crumbs to add textural accents to New England clams and cream. During the summer months or the reign of rogue meteorologists, the eatery's deck opens for business and fills with chatter drifting from beneath a colorful battalion of umbrellas.
Le Central's classic bistro atmosphere charms visitors from the onset with black-and-white-checked floors framed by red and yellow walls. The eatery's farm-to-table approach to French fare keeps admiration flowing, and even helped garner a head-nod and Best Neighborhood Restaurant distinction from Rhode Island Monthly. Below modern hanging lights, tables populate with starters of butter and herb-roasted mussels, house-made charcuterie, and salads rife with roquefort and gruyere cheese. Entrees of locally sourced fish and traditional coq au vin steam with olive tapenade, house-cured bacon, and chili-glazed duck confit.
While sipping on a cocktail or wine at the weathered wooden bar, guests can question the bartender about the bistro's Sunday brunch crepes or the architectural possibilities of crafting a beer hat out of a classic French beret.
The Fish Market takes full culinary advantage of Rhode Island's convenient ocean access to craft a sea-centric menu of fresh catches, indulgent pastas, and succulent steaks. The fried seafood platter ($28.95) is composed of fresh cod, calamari, clams, shrimp, and scallops cooked to a perfect tawny brown using only trans-fat- and cholesterol-free oils and accompanied by hand-cut fries and coleslaw. The raw bar brims with oysters (market price) and clams ($1.50 each) on the half shell, as well as massive lobsters (market price) that threaten shucking to scare lunch money from the smaller molluscs. The Fish Market's signature stuffing tops off a dish of deep-sea scallops baked in white wine, butter, and fresh herbs ($21.95) and diners delight in sushi-grade yellow fin tuna ($21.95) grilled to request and painted with a cucumber wasabi sauce. Land lovers can feast on chicken parmesan with fresh herbs, buffalo mozzarella, and house-made marinara ($15.95) or sink teeth into a hand-cut filet mignon ($26.95) paired with potato or rice and a vegetable or hollow broccoli stalk with another filet hidden inside.