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.
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.
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.
In 2011, CBS's the Early Show lauded Iggy's Doughboys and Chowder House for having the best clam chowder in America. Perhaps that’s because each batch is made with clam juice instead of water, with clams added at the very end to ensure tenderness. Or maybe it’s because owner David Gravino whips up the Manhattan-style red chowder using his mother's special recipe. Whatever the cause, the effect is a zesty stew flecked with celery, pepper, garlic, dill, and basil that people have been happy to stand in line for.
Recently celebrating their 25th anniversary, Iggy's, which has also been graced with a recent visit from Nick Jonas and Miss Universe 2012, also dishes out clam cakes, stuffed quahogs, and landlubbing entrees such as burgers and BLTs in a dining room overlooking Narragansett Bay. Housemade root beer and raspberry-lime sodas complement each meal, alongside doughboys—pastries topped with ice cream, cool whip, and powdered sugar. In addition to the main location, there’s a seasonal outpost in Narragansett proper that stays open from March until Columbus Day, the holiday which celebrates Christopher Columbus's discovery of a new world inhabited solely by fish.