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.
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.
TRIO Cafe & Lounge is the brainchild of brothers Tony and Paul Rodrigues and their childhood friend, Brian Carvalho. The trio sought to replicate a European-style eatery and lounge in Massachusetts, complete with chic decor, contemporary cuisine, and innovative cocktails. Abstract art speckles the walls of each location's sleek space, where diners sit on cushy couches and clink glasses of sangria over raw oysters and peppercorn-encrusted steaks.
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.
India Restaurant's chefs modify iconic South Asian staples to eliminate excess fat, cholesterol, and calories while still ensuring that the dishes are delicious enough to win various accolades. The chefs craft each authentic dish with locally sourced seafood and produce, and they avoid frying any dish, eschew butter entirely, and only cook with canola oil. Yet their nacho-like papri chaat appetizer has been called "truly addictive" by the Providence Phoenix, which also called the restaurant’s biryani “a veritable feast for the senses.” To make their cuisine even more inclusive, the chefs prepare an array of vegan-friendly and gluten-free dishes.
The decor strives to be similarly accommodating, presenting diners with numerous seating options, each with a distinctive ambience. A projection screen playing subtitled Bollywood films dominates the main dining area, smaller tables surround each of the three roaring fireplaces, and more than 200 flickering candles line the bar area. During the warmer months, the garden courtyard tempts patrons with its swings for seats, lush gardens, and bubbling water fountains. The sidewalk seating allows guests to dine alongside their dogs and pet lobsters; a doggie menu offers hamburger-and-rice dishes and yogurt pops for canine companions.
Traditional belly dancers drift throughout the space on Friday and Saturday evenings, and the restaurant's global jazz ensemble entertains diners with its contemporary melodic stylings.