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Bruna's Table--Westerly, RI Review

It's been years since Westerly got a great new dining spot, and Bruna's table, an intimate Tuscan restaurant across from the Amtrak station, is just that. It's a rare combo of great food, gorgeous decor, friendly, professional, unpretentious service and moderate prices. Even rarer, they serve 3 meals a day. We've now had 3 breakfasts and 2 dinners and have been pleased every time.

The dinner menu is extensive with numerous blackboard specials each evening. Ingredients are first-rate. The crusty bread served with high quality evoo is superb. We've tried several salads (average price at $7), pasta dishes, risotto, and entrees (most are under $20), and desserts, including gelati & sorbetto (all $5.00) Everything has been excellent. They have a nice wine list, most bottles under $30, and about 8 wines by the glass, as well as an interesting beer list. At both Saturday night dinners, the place has been full, so reservations are a must. Don't know about weeknights.

We are looking forward to trying their Sunday jazz brunch, which offers their breakfast menu as well as many items from their dinner menu at much lower prices. I can't recommend this place more highly. Even their web site is beautiful. www.brunastable.com

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  1. You must not forget to mention Mario, who is there during the day, a local "celebrity". I ran into someone today in town who gave Brunos rave reviews. We have had lunch and loved it, anxious to try dinner!

    3 Replies
    1. re: Alica

      How long has this place been open? Anyone know? I've never noticed it. Has anyone been to the jazz brunch?

      1. re: coastalgypsy

        They opened for bfast & lunch in December. They started doing dinner when they got their beer & wine license in Feb. I just saw some more raves on Tripadvisor.com

        1. re: Joltingjoey

          I heard some great reviews from a few people. I also heard a reservation is suggested, they have been crowded. We tried to get in Saturday and could not. I guess that is a good sign.

    2. Did this replace the Thai place?

      18 Replies
      1. re: Johnymac2

        No, the Thai Place is still there. It is diagonally across the street from the Thai Place. It was a building they did over, now it is the restaurant, condos and a children's clothing store. Next door to the old hotel. A new Thai place is also going into Billia's very soon. We'll see how that goes.

        1. re: Alica

          Oldtimers tell me the building was the first auto dealership in Westerly. I've only lived in this town since 1973, so I'm a newcomer.

          As for the new Thai place, can this town really support 2 Thai restaurants a few hundred yards from each other., when we don't have any good Chinese, despite a large Chinese population?

          1. re: Joltingjoey

            I don't think many people in town know what "real" chinese food is, considering the business that Chen's and Lucky House do. I bet if a "real" chinese place opened up, they wouldn't even be able to compete. Has anyone tried the Beijing Dumpling place on Beach St.?

            1. re: coastalgypsy

              I don't really eat Chinese food but don't people love that Chinese restaurant near where thr registry used to be? I love that Chinese market!

              1. re: Alica

                I've never been to that restaurant (is it in the space where the pet store used to be?) Nor have I been to the Asian market -- what do they sell?

                1. re: coastalgypsy

                  Golden Chopstix (the restaurant) I find to be a curious mixture. They do dim sum, mostly made in house which is a rarity around here, so that's what I go there for when I go. I find that they do absolutely awful anglicized Chinese food (I made the mistake once, but I see it on other people's tables) On the other hand I also see and smell better stuff coming out to tables. I'm either not managing to order right, or I just can't read the Chinese menu where the good stuff.

                  Next door and owned by the same people, China Grocery is small, but serviceable. It focuses on Chinese food but you can get sushi ginger and nori too. Their produce is ok, but not overwhelming (it is a small space) and I can never remember what day of the week they get deliveries. They do typically have long chives, lemongrass, daikon, a couple of kinds of bok choi etc. After shopping there for 4 years, I feel much more accepted there.

                  I think it's better than Lee's in New London for most stuff, and the place in Groton. The market in Norwich is much bigger, but it's out of my way.

                  Where do you shop gypsy?

                  1. re: thinks too much

                    Wow - I didn't realize that little grocery store carried fresh asian produce. You mentioned you now "feel more accepted" there... how did they treat you intially? I didn't know Golden Chopstix does dim sum either... they should really advertise that.

                    I usually go out of town for groceries - Trader Joe's in Warwick and Whole Foods in Cranston. I'm vegetarian so I can't usually find many of the staples I need in town.

                    1. re: coastalgypsy

                      coastal gypsy, I am also vegetarian and I love to cook!! The asian market gets fresh produce on Thursdays, I have a great recipe where I use bok choy, I get it there almost every week. You pick what you want right out of the box. WONDERfUL baby bok choy. I have gotten beautiful spinach, green beans, Japanese eggplant and they have many vegi's I do not know much about. Any kind of rice wine vinegar, soy, etc is 1/2 the price there. They have great rice, I cook more Japanese than chinese, wasabe so cheap! When you go to Japanese restaurants they have seaweed salad, it is there frozen, you might not want to look at what is in it though! Seaweed, dumplings, nice bean sprouts. The owner speaks a bit of English and no one else really speaks much of it but they are so nice and helpful. What local restaurants do you like for vegetarian food? We like Waterstreet, Up River, Rice Spice & Noodles, Fra's for sandwiches, The Place, Pizza.. Do tell!!!

                      1. re: Alica

                        Wow, I can't believe I had no idea about this little market! I can't wait to check out their vegetables - I love baby bok choy. Where is Rice Spice & Noodles? I hate to say I patronize more restaurants out-of-town just because of the veg thing (Markos in Narragansett is one), but locally, I like the italian pizza from Ritacco's Market (which also sells dried lupini beans which are a great source of protein for vegetarians). The Pizza Place is great also. Westerly was actually supposed to get a restaurant called "The Local" in the Granite Plaze -- featuring local products and lots of veg items, but the girls decided on other ventures. That would have been fantastic!

                        1. re: coastalgypsy

                          Hi there! Rice, Spice & Noodles is in Mystic near the train station. They have very good Pad Thai, a fresher feel, not sauce heavy, tofu appetizers, and other vegi choices. I'll have to try Markos! I love trying new places. I will surely try Riticco's pizza and the lupini beans. A true Westerly gem! We tried the bakery across from Riticos, it is SINFUL! All I can say is, almond croissant. Believe it or not, Waterstreet in Stonington is pretty veggie friendly. They do not have it on the menu but you can get any meal there with tofu instead of meat, chicken etc.. good wine great atmosphere. Please keep me filled in on your vegi favorites!

                          1. re: Alica

                            I haven't been to Water St. in Stonington in ages. What spots do you recommend over there?
                            The lupini beans are sort of a pain-- you have to soak them in salt water and change the water every day for about 7 days... but when they're finally ready to eat, they're delicious!

                            1. re: coastalgypsy

                              We go to Water Street Cafe the most. Milagro, cute Mexican Place, Noah's, We go to Skipper's Dock in the summer, the food is okay but it is beautiful to sit outside there, great sunset over the water!
                              I WILL try lupini beans, love to cook and learn about new foods!

                              1. re: Alica

                                Make sure you post back when you try the lupini beans. They're eaten with salt - it's like the mediterranean version of edamame!

                                1. re: coastalgypsy

                                  Oh you use them like edamame! Do you serve them in the pod and eat the bean like edamame? That sounds great!

                                  1. re: Alica

                                    They aren't in a pod. You buy a bag of them dried (or you can buy them already soaked in a jar), and they're round, off-white beans that do have a soft outer shell. If you buy the dried version, you initially boil them in water for about 40 minutes, then put them in a jar to soak in a salt water solution for about 7 days, changing the water every day. You'll know when they're ready because they don't taste bitter -- it's like the olive curing process. Then you sprinkle salt on them, pop them in your mouth, and I'm not sure if anyone actually eats the skin because it's tough, but I spit it out.

                                    1. re: coastalgypsy

                                      Oh great, cannot wait to try them!

                    2. re: thinks too much

                      I like the produce at China Grocer. I wish the woman who works there spoke better English. I have tried to ask questions, but it has been difficult!

                      1. re: vpcoco

                        I know, I agree! They are both so nice but you are pretty much on your own.

        2. We ate at Bruna's (finally) last night. We had a really great meal, especially for Westerly. The service was great; Lee was on top of things! Food was really fresh. We had a Caesar salad and chopped salad to start. Caesar was good and not heavily dressed. The chopped salad was good, although it was slightly brand. My boyfriend's filet mignon was excellent and cooked perfectly (rare to medium rare). My fettucini was al dente and served with a mushroom cream sauce. The dessert, chocolate hazelnut torte was excellent, rich and not too sweet. We will definitely be back again. We arrived at 9:15 and their was a full dining room!

          3 Replies
          1. re: vpcoco

            How many tables are there? Are reservations a must?

            1. re: chowmensch

              It is small, from what I heard you must make a reservation. I am sure once the season is over it might get easier to get in. I thought it was great there. We dined there a bit later during the week. I tried on a Saturday afternoon to get a reso for that night and they were already booked.

              1. re: chowmensch

                I might want to make reservations especially in the next couple of weeks. I do not think it will be a problem after Labor Day.

            2. ate there again last night, for about the 10th time since it opened, and it was great, as always - and very vegetarian friendly, as they will customize their dishes for you. just love this place

              13 Replies
              1. re: bigmetfan

                They were recently under renovation, do you know what they did? Have you tried Mermaid Cafe yet. New Westerly addition.

                1. re: Alica

                  not sure how a year has passed and I missed this, but no, we haven't - tried the Mermaid, but sure plan on trying it soon. any feedback?

                  1. re: bigmetfan

                    Better try it soon, because I don't know how much longer they'll last. I've only had breakfasts there, and they're pretty good. Only place I know of in the area that serves jonnycakes with real maple syrup. They use white corn meal from right across the river. The dark roast coffee is great. The lunch and dinner menus have never really interested me though. LGM!

                    1. re: Joltingjoey

                      thanks joey - will be back in westerly next weekend for a few days, and if they are still around, we will surely head there. would love to check out their johnnycakes w/ the maple syrup.

                      1. re: Joltingjoey

                        Have you heard that Bruna's table is closing? That is one of the better restaurants in Westerly. How has the Bridge been lately? We went when they first opened a few times and were not that pleased. We have not been since they got the chef from Noah's. Maybe it got better?

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                        Bruna's Cafe
                        98 Bay St, Westerly, RI 02891

                        1. re: Alica

                          I have been to Bridge quite a few times now, mostly because I love the ambiance & friendly service. But the food is such a disappointment. I went a couple months ago and got the black bean burger, it was very mushy and completely fell apart - had to use a fork to eat it. Then went back last week - companion got fish & chips and it was a tiny piece of fish with a whole plate full of VERY salty fries... too salty to eat (and I love salt!) I got fish tacos and they were just ok - a few pieces of cod and the rest was completely buried in tomato salsa. We basically paid $60 for a few tiny pieces of fish and two drinks. Sadly, I don't think I'll go back...

                          1. re: coastalgypsy

                            Boy, I miss Up River Cafe!

                            -----
                            Up River Cafe
                            37 Main St, Westerly, RI 02891

                          2. re: Alica

                            Alicia, I haven't heard that Bruna's was having problems - it was the Mermaid Cafe that I believe that Joey was referring to. We went to the Bridge about 5 times (including take-out) last summer and for the most part were pleased. Good, not great, and a bit inconsistent,. One really good meal, one bad one, and the rest were pretty good, but we liked the lower prices and more diverse menu as compared to the Up River. Clearly, the food is not as high-end, but for me it filled in some holes in the dining scene in Westerly. It is very vegetarian friendly, and has more fish/seafood (New England based, if not completely local) than any place in town, other than 2 little fish, a convenient, fun and attractive location, and is priced so that it isn't just a special occasion spot, like the UpRiver was. Kind of like what High St. Cafe was like 8-9 years ago, before the prices started rising and menu started changing in a heart-unhealthy direction (IMHO).

                            -----
                            Up River Cafe
                            37 Main St, Westerly, RI 02891

                            Bruna's Cafe
                            98 Bay St, Westerly, RI 02891

                            1. re: bigmetfan

                              We will have to give The Bridge another try. Mermaid Cafe, as far as I know, never had a liquor lic. so maybe that is why they never took off.

                              1. re: bigmetfan

                                Yes, I was referring to Mermaid. But Bruna's may be hurting too, since they stopped serving breakfasts well over a year ago. Then they eliminated lunch. Oh well, running a restaurant is a brutal business. The only area place I would really grieve for if they ever folded is Pita Spot in Mystic.

                                -----
                                Pita Spot
                                45 Williams Ave, Mystic, CT 06355

                                1. re: Joltingjoey

                                  jj,i feel simpatico with your taste. We'll be doing tues.,wed and fri dinner in area between old lyme and mystic--or further if the food is worth it; def willing to travel for food. ( We're Thurs at The Suburban in No. Branford, a great fave of ours.)

                                  What do you think are the 3 best dinner spots for NOT trad American food and not fried seafood type place?(we'll do Pita Spot for lunch.)We like big robust flavors and particularly enjoy (talented) innovative chefs. Plse chirp in CHs; I appreciate all your opinions.Thanks much!

                                  -----
                                  Pita Spot
                                  45 Williams Ave, Mystic, CT 06355

                                  1. re: Joltingjoey

                                    Bruna's bit the dust. Bruna's Cafe in Watch Hill is still open, but only has coffee, desserts, gelato and a few sandwiches. Sad....

                                    As I have said on another string, the most consistently good restaurants in Westerly/Pawcatuck are 84 High Street, Prime Time, Guytano's and the new Ella's (only been there twice since they opened in late April.

                                    1. re: michaelgg

                                      I had a good meal there years ago but I felt like there was something missing from Bruna's. The atmosphere was not that appealing. I can't pinpoint it but...