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.
Film buffs across six states stare wide-eyed at large cinema screens, losing themselves in first-run Hollywood movies and the smell of fresh, buttery kernels within Your Neighborhood Theatre's 17 locations. Though all theaters prioritize comfortable seating, old-fashioned friendly service, and high-stakes preshow trivia slideshows, each location encompasses its own distinct charm, be it through arthouse décor, 3-D screens, or Rhode Island's vintage 1950's drive-in setting.
The team members at Rok Bar n Grill describe their domain as a "rock n roll-themed establishment" that cultivates an immersive, party-centric experience for its guests. But while dramatic decor and architecture feed eyes, and a packed schedule of events beckons ears, it's a menu of artfully crafted American favorites that keeps mouths and bellies satisfied.
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.”
In 1999, four college friends founded Newport Storm Brewery with some used equipment and two Middletown garage bays. In the 15 years since then, the enterprise has been on an upward trajectory. First off, it moved into a new, 8,000-square-foot facility. Secondly, they expanded into the liquor business and starting distilling Thomas Tew Rum, a dark amber rum with hints of molasses. However, the founders never abandoned beer, their original passion. Their current craft beers range from Rhode Island Blueberry Beer, infused with juice from local berries five days into the brewing process, to Hurricane Amber Ale with Tettenang hops.
A non-profit film series, newportFILM sparks cinematic discourse in the Rhode Island community with independent programming. The organization aims to invigorate the filmmaking and film-loving communities with a festival spirit year-round, hosting themed mini-festivals on topics such as animals or the environment. Films travel to a variety of theme-appropriate venues, from summer showings under the stars to atmosphere-heavy historic theaters renovated to include high-tech A/V equipment but retain their old-fashioned scratch-and-sniff popcorn-scented seats.