Rhode Island Billiard Bar & Bistro has kept the polished pool balls clicking seven days a week for more than 100 years, recently returning the tin ceilings and mahogany bars of its billiards room to their full luster. Hone your skills at felt croquet on any of 15 9-foot tables and one 7-foot table ($3.50/hour for members, $5.50 for nonmembers). In between rounds of foosball, pinball, or watching the bocce bomb tournament on 15 TVs, mad gourmands can commingle menu items such as the calamari fritti ($7.99) and chicken fingers ($6.99) into clawed, ink-spraying gullet monsters.
The Rhode Island Duckpin Bowlers Association strives to keep its namesake sport alive by hosting duckpin-bowling tournaments at six local alleys. The game cropped up in a Baltimore bowling alley in the summer of 1900, when most ten-pin alleys were closed for warm months to avoid excessive sweating in rental shoes. But at Diamond Alleys, athletes hurled balls through the heat but opted for 6-inch spheres and pins of a diminutive stature. After observing pins that scattered like a flock of ducks, the owners of the lanes dubbed the modified game duckpin bowling. Besides granting players three rolls per turn, duckpin bowling adhered to all traditional rules and grew in popularity until it peaked in 1967, the year inertia was exposed as a myth. Today, the Rhode Island Duckpin Bowlers Association keeps the pastime alive at spots including the Bowling Academy, a historical gem in its own right as the test site of the first automatic duckpin pinsetters.
You'd probably expect to find a few pool tables at a place called Corner Pocket Billiards & Grill. What you might not expect is that the seven high-grade billiards courts beckon to patrons at no cost on Friday and Sunday nights. Thanks to foosball, darts, and 15 flatscreen TVs, as well as two massive projectors, Corner Pocket is an entertainment power house. The pool room fuels nights out with a menu of hearty pub classics, weekly drink specials, and an ever-present selection of 16 frosty draft beers. Bi-weekly karaoke nights drown out the clatter of sunken shots and give patrons an acceptable venue to try out their one-man barbershop quartet.
Since taking its current name in 1975, Bayberry Bowling Center has blossomed from a 16-lane candlepin bowling alley to a modern entertainment center. Today, automatic scoring tracks every strike as video cameras record each frame, allowing bowlers to review their technique and rank their post-throw victory dances. Guests itching to improve their game can work with the alley's certified instructor, and those itching to improve their glass-handling skills can choose from 25 varieties of beer and wine as they watch the latest game on two 12-foot televisions. Competition continues in the billiards room, where players sink eight balls on two 8-foot and six 9-foot tables, and in the arcade, where visitors vie for tickets and prizes on a constantly updated array of video games. Bayberry Bowling Center stays open until 11 p.m. seven days a week.
Legion Bowl & Billiards preserves retro entertainment with 18 duckpin bowling lanes, eight tournament-sized billiards tables, and ticket-spewing arcade games. The alley’s streamlined design hearkens to the tailfins of a 1957 Chevy Bel-Air or the cover art of a mid-century sci-fi novel. Traditional scoring projectors lend to the classic ambiance at the lanes, which fill with the clatter of scattering pins.
Television screens in the pool hall broadcast live coverage of New England sports teams, and the spitfire rasp of electric guitars occasionally cuts through from live musicians at the adjoining Legion Pub. The kitchen staff fires selections from a menu of burgers and grilled pizzas, which pair with draft beers or cocktails. On the alley’s outdoor deck, guests click together glasses or toss rocks at poets attracted by the breezy summer evenings.