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Portsmouth RI/Newport RI vineyard and restaurant suggestions?

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I will be traveling to visit my in-laws in Portsmouth, RI (Carneige Abby) for a long weekend July 24-27. they are leaving it up to me to find some great restaurants, vineyards, etc. My husband and I are big foodies in chicago.

We usually eat at Mamma Louisa's here, which is pretty good. Our favorites in NYC are Babbo and for more casual but great homemade pastas, roberto's. they love Italian and do not venture out much past that, or american. We love unique dining experiences, such as dining outside at farms, vineyards, etc. such as outstanding in the fields (a roving suppoer club which holds dinners at farms, vineyards, etc focusing on local produce/etc. We also love hole in the walls that have some charm with great food, or something upscale is ok, too, but nothing formal/frency/fancy.

I would love to visit some vineyards--which are the best in the area? we love sauvignon blanc/pinot gris (crisp whites) or any reds. Dessert wine good, too. A vineyard that has a rustic charm would be great.

Thanks so much for the help!

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    1. This place may be right in your in-law's wheelhouse. Scampi's in Portsmouth on 657 Park Ave. It has been a restaurant for about 40 years and just opened in May under new management. It's run by older Italian guys and they seem to be courting the blue-hair crowd. The food is pretty good, standard Italian, steaks, and seafood. It's not cheap, $18-25 entrees, but portions are good. The place has water views of the Sakonnet but the decor doesn't quite match the ambiance they're going for.

      If you're a bit more adventurous (casual eclectic American), I can highly recommend Gold's Wood Fired Grill and The Grape Room off East Main Rd. in Middletown.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Dinsdale45

        scampis in island park,are you joking?steer really clear of that,and head towards bristol for robertos or le central,persimmon. the drive to federal hill in providence is maybe half an hour,some of the best italian anywhere to be found,search the boards for favorites.the boathouse in tiverton is really good,owned by same group that has a bunch of great newport restaurants including castle hill,22 bowens etc.the back eddy in westport is really good also,only the freshest local seafood and produce is used,casual,great setting,etc.theres a couple of vineyards in middletown,and sakonnet in tiverton,the drive out to little compton is pretty scenic too.theres lots of great things close by that you really dont even have to deal with newport traffic and parking and crowds.takea tour of the tower @carniege,tell them your interested in the penthouse on the top floor,amazing views,you can see the whole state from there,ok and no jokes about the size of our state though,thanks.rhode island is pretty small though,you can get anywhere in the state in 45 minutes,enjoy.

        1. re: im hungry

          Did I say Scampi's was great? Knowing the dining preferences of my older relatives, a place like Scampi's is what they're comfortable with, and it's not THAT bad. I live nearby and they're always doing good business, so it must have something going for it. That said, it's not my kind of place and if the people were serious foodies, I would never steer them there.

          1. re: Dinsdale45

            Please do not go to Scampi's. We went a few weeks ago and it was the WORST experience I have had. Horrible service, inedible food and so many tables crammed into one room I spent the whole night being banged into by waiters...I think its an insult to older people to assume they have a higher tolerance for sub pare dining

            1. re: aquidneck

              I have to say that my first experience at Scampi's soon after it opened was horrible -- overcooked, mushy pasta, e.g. -- the ultimate sin for an Italian restaurant. However, on a return visit Monday -- just two days ago -- my fiancee and I were wowed by a very good fresh mozzarella salad and two excellent main dishes; generous portions of veal marsala and chicken piccata with capers were both flavorful and prepared without butter, as requested. The pasta was very al dente, as it should always be. We spoke later with the chef, who has worked at some well-known Italian restaurants in Boston and obviously strutted his stuff with our dishes that evening. I wouldn't write off Scampi without a return visit. Favorable change is in the air.

              1. re: masticator

                maybe we should give it a second try as we live in the neigborhood and there arent too many options for a good meal right around the corner....

        2. re: Dinsdale45

          Did an early supper at Gold's wood fired grille tonight. Bottle of wine and pizza. Bottle of wine was overpriced (3 x retail, vs 2.5 x retail); pizza was small, tasty, skimpy on ingredients. Not worth a repeat.

        3. Scales and Shells and Pasta Beach in Newport (awesome Italian Chefs and great pizza's and pasta reminds me of a "typical" pizza place in Cannes or Nice). Scales is cash only. For a hole in the wall with great food and beer, the new hotspot in Newport is Pour Judgement, local place with awesome burgers.

          1. Restaurant Luccia's, Thames St Newport is sister restaurant to Mama Louisa's but the great thing is, it is BYOB. Great food!

            5 Replies
            1. re: Alica

              I find Luccia's incredibly mediocre. I think a better BYOB choice in Newport is Spark. At least the food choices are interesting, if a bit hit or miss.

              I'd definitely hit Perro Salado for breakfast at least once during your trip, just make sure its not the morning after you pub crawl through town, the place often has a peculiar smell to it. I like to sit outside on the veranda for that reason.

              Second thumbs up for Pour Judgement, beer -- good.

              Last, Salas' is something of a Rhode Island institution. The locals to tourist ratio here is certainly weighted toward the former. The food is not adventurous, heck some of isn't even very good, the place is loud, chaotic, and a little bit odd. We love it here, its dining with family, and if you stick to the fresh seafood or the "oriental spaghetti" (theres a story to it if you ask), and stay away from the wine list, you might find out why.

              1. re: jcm3

                salas,really?these people are staying at the carnigie abbey,the guys who cut the grass at the carnigie wouldnt eat at salas,why would anyone eat there,its just plain gross.

                1. re: jcm3

                  I went to Spark's and I did not feel it was anything special, I also thought the portions were very small.
                  I think I have been to Poor Judgement, I believe it was them that had homemade potato chips topped with gorgonzola, YUMMY!!

                  1. re: Alica

                    What about Quito's in Bristol? I love walking around the town, poking in the shops....and it's a nice start/end to a day there.....

                  2. re: jcm3

                    We just got back from Newport and tried Spark and Salvation on Broadway.

                    We found Spark to be refreshing with a menu that was interesting. The food was excellent and the menu items had unique combination's of flavors and the service was excellent. The prices were a little on the high side but so are many of the restaurants on Broadway. For the portions be aware that they have three kinds of plates: small plates which are small (literally three bites), big plates (an average appetizer size), and entrees. The portion size for the chicken entree was small but the pork chop was normal. The dessert's sounded typical so we passed. Overall the food and service was excellent and we recommend it. BTW - Spark is BYOB with $2.50 per person corking fee. Thy had very nice wine glasses.

                    We also had dinner at Salvation Cafe up the block from Spark and also found the food interesting and excellent, along with great service. The atmosphere was very eclectic and casual - if you go there get a table outside in the back, very nice in the evening. The prices at Salvation are comparable to Spark and they do serve alcohol (Spark is BYOB).

                2. Sakonnet Vineyard in Little Compton, RI is a fantastic vineyard to visit, short tour and a wonderful tasting for around $7. Plus you can buy a cold bottle, visit the cafe and have a picnic lunch in the vineyard. Westport Rivers Vineyard is also wonderful. The Boathouse in Tiverton, has great food and wonderful views of the Sakonnet River.