Inside Maharaja Indian Restaurant, the air is heady with the scents of traditional Tandoor-grilled Indian meats and flavorful curries, all served in a dining room done in striking hues of royal blue and canary. It's easy to feel like you've been whisked away to somewhere in Bombay, but if you look outside, you can see sweeping views of Rhode Island's Narragansett Beach. The restaurant occupies an upper floor of the Village Inn, a stone's throw from the shoreline. Beach views provide a temporary distraction, but the menu commands most of the attention, with spicy lamb vindaloo, Halal goat biryani, vegan channa masala, and ten different types of naan bread.
When asked what inspired her to open Genie's Hookah Lounge, Farahnaz Shobeiri recalls the parties her grandfather used to host in Iran. “Whenever he had parties, he had hookah. People came to talk about family and politics and also to just enjoy themselves.” Now directing her own festive space, Shobeiri hopes to not only foster a similarly laid-back, convivial atmosphere but also to share her Persian heritage with others.
On Friday and Saturday, belly dancers sway to the sounds of Middle Eastern music, and tarot-card readers divine fortunes amid thick persian rugs and plush couches heaped with pillows and tinier, plusher couches. Friends can pass around handmade Egyptian hookahs filled with coconut-shell coals and dozens of different flavors, including tobacco-free herbal molasses. The lounge also boasts a high-end air-filtration system, which means that the smell of smoke or wandering cologne salesmen never overpowers the aromas of spiced meats and fresh bread from the kitchen.
Though Genie's Hookah Lounge doesn’t serve alcohol, people are welcome to bring their own wine and beer, and servers pour pure pomegranate juice and herbal teas directly into mouths via a funnel. Shobeiri hopes that the atmosphere encourages people to relax and linger over their meals. “We do everything from the heart here,” she says. "Everyone comes here to be happy.”
When Simon and Jennifer Sousa opened Adagio Piano Lounge, they thought music would be the focus. That's why they planned to offer only a short menu of appetizers and drinks. But with Jennifer's mother, Lucy, in the kitchen, food became much more than an afterthought; her dishes garnered praise from patrons as well as The Herald News. Visitors can devour steamed littleneck clams in garlic sauce, chicken marsala, or Portuguese steak while live bands or dueling pianists perform in the background. Bartenders mix martinis and pitchers of sangria to pair with sumptuous entrees.
Under the ownership of Federal Hill native Christopher Conti, Blush Winebar pours half and full glasses from hundreds of red, white, and sparkling libations. The upscale watering hole offers more than 100 wines by the glass, each with its own distinct flavor notes and secret cheese crush. A champagne bar highlights the bubbly beverage with glasses, full bottles, and three-flute samplers as well as a selection of champagne-based cocktails, such as the Blush Boom Boom, a mixture of Moët champagne, pomegranate liqueur, Grand Marnier, and orange juice. Executive chef Jacen Scungio blends fresh, local ingredients to create the flatbread pizzas, sliders, and handmade pastas that populate the wine bar’s tapas menu and keep hungry imbibers from trying to stomp their wines back into grapes.
French-style bistro cuisine is The Grande’s specialty. The restaurant gets its ingredients from local farms and fisheries, who deliver organic meats and veggies whenever possible. The bistro’s wine list similarly emphasizes organic and sustainable wines from all over the world.
The chefs at Tap House Grille wrap bacon around meatloaf, top hand-formed Angus beef patties with guacamole and roasted chilies, and put inventive spins on classic American dishes. In the dining room, flatscreen televisions hang above tufted banquettes and a handsome wooden bar keeps more than 50 bottled beers and 24 rotating drafts chilled. On Friday and Saturday nights, live music, comedy acts, and Simon Says tournaments entertain patrons, and a complimentary valet service babysits patrons’ cars.