Meatball Comedy Stop travels to a variety of venues presenting standup sets during the night. But regardless of its latest resident bar, restaurant, or whoopee-cushion factory, it always brings along a brick-wall façade. It's served as the backdrop for a variety of national headliners. Audiences lounging in cabaret-style seating sip cocktails and munch snacks between chuckles.
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.”
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.
McFaddens Restaurant and Saloon combines the warm atmosphere and decadent fare of a family restaurant with the all the rowdy good times of an old-fashioned saloon. In the dining room, the wait staff shuffles around plates of classic fare for both lunch and dinner, including Black Angus burgers, roasted vegetable flatbread pizzas, and slow-roasted prime rib, with a few treats for kids, such as grilled-cheese sandwiches, cheeseburger sliders, and ice-cream pie for dessert. After dark, the bar comes alive with trivia and karaoke on Wednesday nights, supplemented by liquid courage in the form of beer towers and Ciroc ultra-premium vodka. Weekends start on Thursday with a live DJ and wrap up on Sunday with game-day specials during NFL games and professional rock-paper-scissor smack downs.
Every Friday, the Firehouse Theater hosts a merry evening of witty improvisational comedy, performed by Newport’s The Bit Players. Watch the zany troupe as they drolly play off the suggestions of the audience and make off-the-cuff remarks in a series of short-form skits. Firehouse Theater is BYOB, so show-goers are obliged to bring beer, wine or a cask of aromatherapy bathtub gin. For teetotalers, free hot teas, cocoa, and cookies accompany every performance, helping audience members feel welcome, cozy, and primed for incessant giggling in the 49-seat theater.
Providence Byblos is a family owned and operated hookah lounge and restaurant, offering two floors, two ceilings, three dimensions, and one patio's worth of smoke and satiation space. Prepare your palate for a Lebanese feast with the fruity flavors of a hookah, including apple, blueberry, raspberry, grape, melon, mango, and the daily special ($18 for one flavor, $21 for a mixture of two flavors), complemented by a refreshing jellab (traditional concoction of grape juice, molasses, and raisins, $2.99). Providence's "mama-style" menu serves up a wide variety of traditionally tasty appetizers, salads, paninis, and desserts. Start with a savory serving of fatayer (pita pies stuffed with organic spinach and onions, $7) or a plate of soujouk (dried beef and lamb sausages sautéed with tomatoes and onions, $8) before moving on to a crisp Greek salad ($8) or a chicken tawook panini (chicken breast, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and a homemade garlic sauce, $8). Cap off the meal and quell a nagging sweet tooth with a flakey slice of homemade baklava ($3) or a sweet date-stuffed maamoul ($2).