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Gia: New Uxbridge, MA restaurant?

Yesterday an "Opening Soon: GIA Ristorante Italiano" banner appeared on the defunct IronStones (former Oyster Cabin) on Rt. 146A in Uxbridge, MA. Does anyone know about this new venture or the parties involved? It would be nice if something decent opened there.

Oyster Cabin
785 Quaker Hwy, Uxbridge, MA 01569

849 Federal Rd Apt 5, Brookfield, CT 06804

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  1. Dang - the last thing this area needs is another Italian/ American restaurant. Why not good bistro or even roadhouse fare? After all, that's pretty much how the Oyster Cabin got started, so the legend goes...

    Oyster Cabin
    785 Quaker Hwy, Uxbridge, MA 01569

    5 Replies
    1. re: kmetzaholic

      I agree. The last thing Unxbrige/Mendon/Blackstone etc. needs is more Italian.

      I would think a good BBQ/roadhouse would work really well. Get a good smoker, serve some good burgers, wings and a hearty chili along with some decent weekend specials and provide a good beer and tequila list and life is good.

      However, the prices have to be reasonable otherwise it won't work.

      1. re: River19

        Hey River19! We are on the same page. I plan to visit the place while they are prepping to open and see if I can convince them to alter their menu accordingly... We shall see.

        1. re: kmetzaholic

          Good luck with that.

          The typical Italian eatery is funny to me in that area, with a large Italian population in the Milford area, which extends into Mendon, Hopedale, Uxbridge, Douglas etc. Most of those guys can eat good Italian every night in their own houses. What people don’t typically do is have a good smoker fired up for 12 hours smoking some ribs, brisket etc. along with some killer prime burgers with good toppings and awesome onion rings. Weekend specials can include a good steak smoked then grilled etc. good smoked salmon etc. Plus some chicken mainstays, it isn’t rocket science to figure out that there is a market for food like that.

          It takes a lot of effort for people to replicate a good BBQ/roadhouse at home. Plus BBQ is like a drug, once someone finds a place they like, they crave it. I don’t think anyone will crave place X’s meatballs vs. place Y’s meatballs. Sure some meatballs are better, but I ain’t driving 20 miles for meatballs, I would drive 20-30 miles for good Q.

          1. re: River19

            I left a note pinned to the door urging the new owner to consider other options besides Italian/ American. I have to agree with you - BBQ and the menu offerings you suggest are spot on. Smoking is the way to go and lends itself well to the vintage rustic decor here.

            Thanks for your comments - hope you have an enjoyable and relaxing holiday, and BBQ when and where you can find it!

            1. re: kmetzaholic

              i love it...

              "hey we know you're redoing the whole place and want to go italian... but that's a stupid idea... RIBS!!!!"

              and you couldn't be more right

              i live in franklin and i'd consider the trek for good Q

              speaking of... what' Q do you kids drive for??

    2. I heard through the grape vine that the new owners are also the owners of Isabel's in Webster. Who happen to be Italian to my knowledge. How true this is I do not know - just what I was told while inquiring myself. I myself love Italian however it seems that the general conseses with everyone I speak with feel that Italian is the last thing this area needs. With Pinellis and Bella's only down the road they may be in for some tough competion, never mind all the other Italian picks locally. I know none of us wish to see yet aother establishment fail at that location which was once "the place to go" much like the Cocke n Kettle. All of us locals surely look forward to good eats there again. And although I am certain we all wish the new propriorters a wonderful welcome and the best to make the place a success....... they may want to take into serious condsideration the voices of the potential clientel who already assume another theme may be lucrative.

      11 Replies
      1. re: kcinalaska

        Years ago someone gave me the advice of: "IF you try selling people what you think they need, you will fail, if you sellthem what they want, you can be a rich man"...........I'm not sure why an area loaded with people with an Italian background would ever want to go out for more Italian, makes no sense to me, but I made that point before.

        If Gia's fails as an Italian place...........maybe I'll just scoop the damn place up myself and get a roadhouse fired up...............

        1. re: River19

          River19 - I may join you. Do you have a restaurant background? Catering? Or just passionate about not having the same old - same old clog the neighborhood? Italian/ American is "safe" and maybe even yielding a healthy profit margin, but with so many good to great places of the same ilk nearby, they are taking on a load of scrutiny and comparison shopping. I can't fathom the lack of creativity in the regional restaurant arena....

          1. re: kmetzaholic

            Small businesses are my passion and I love food........so I end up with opinions on things like this, I can't help it. I like to see people succeed, and maybe I'm wrong, but this looks like it is doomed from the beginning. If I were a loan officer, this project wouldn't get funded on my dime.

            Seriously, they should really think this through. Given the established choices in the area and the demographics what can they do with Gia's that would differentiate them with Italian? In my opinion (and I could be missing something) there are really only two ways to go with Italian…….Red sauce comfort food with thick margins and big quantity (typical), which is covered by several established red sauce joints and pizza houses or they can go high brow, very fresh ingredients, a real chef’s menu, excellent execution, decent margins but high risk high expense inventory that depends on significant volume to turn over the inventory quick enough to avoid shrinkage from spoilage. Well guess what, Alacante has a 4 year head start on them and judging by the cars every week along Rt 16 there, they are doing a decent job.

            I just don’t see a winning strategy here except for low cost, low to average quality red sauce joint that hopefully is funded well enough to allow for word of mouth to pull people away from the more centrally located established places………which feels really risky to me.

            But I could be totally wrong here………….

            1. re: River19

              I think we will just have to wait and see... why word of mouth would pull people away from the other VERY close by Italian- American places is the key here. My preference - I hope they go high end/ chef's menu as you state - and offer more Northern Italian fare - cream sauces - Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna, Piedmonte, etc., versus another red ride down the Napoli turnpike....

              1. re: kmetzaholic

                I couldn't agree more with the tone of this conversation. A few years back I twice represented a Boston Area Restaurant / Brewery at Tri Valley Chamber of Comerce tasting events that wereheld one time at the Vocational school in Franklin, and another time at Christie's on the Walpole foxboro line. Both times we were suprisingly welcomed like heroes as those attending immediately thought "wow, they must be opening a brewery concept down here!". Some folks went as far as to predict to me what specific properties available at the time we might be ready to ocupy. Many expressed that they would go to the locations I represented in spite of a lenghty drive.
                Well to make a long story short, a Brewery/Restaurant is with a solid (mostly scratch) menu of smokehouse and traditional pub foods is what I've been dying to bring to the area. Would do it in a heart beat if I had some backers.

          2. re: River19

            i think it is awful how everyone wants to make a negative comments about a new business opening in the area. Maybe it is not your cup of tea but if so then do not go there. One thing people should be saying is how great it is that a new business that size is opening (who cares what it is) this will give new job opportunities for those who are not working. I wish the best for the new owner/owners, and look forward to see what the have done with the place

            1. re: DandS.kar

              I welcome a new owner taking a chance on the Oyster Cabin site. BRAVO to them!! Tough enough to open a place in these iffy economic times. My only issue is their choice to open yet another Italian/ American place. The area is rife with them. Just wished and hoped that they would have a bit more creativity, assess the regional restaurant climate, and craft something that didn't duplicate what was already in place - a bistro, trattoria, road house, tapas, finger food, simple hearty sandwiches, dips, chilis and so forth.

              Hope they do well - just know they are yet another red sauce venue in an area that is awash in that style.

              Oyster Cabin
              785 Quaker Hwy, Uxbridge, MA 01569

              1. re: DandS.kar

                I think you're missing the point.......we would like nothing more than to see it succeed and and actually ADD to the area's employment and dining opportunities.

                What is the best that can happen here? Gia does great and takes business away from the already established red sauce joints in the area, then what have they done to impact the employment in the area?

                The point of the questioning the theme was around adding something different to the area as opposed to answering a question no one had asked........"hey wouldn't it be great if there was another Italian place in the area?"

                No one is rooting for them to fail........

                1. re: River19

                  Unfortuately it does not look like anythng is actually happening there. It may be that they are reconsidering or ........... just the plain ole state of the economy. It really is a shame to see the building sit empty with such potential. Does anyone know if they actually have purchased the property or if they just plan to lease? Would'nt it be a great spot right off the highway, right by the state line and such open space for a franchise to come in. Wellllll that per capita won't help with that and I personaly like private enterprise when it comes to restaurants, yet the price seem to be right for a quick bite when it comes down to the Corporate establishments. Either way its tax revenue for the town.

                  1. re: kcinalaska

                    They seem to be getting ready to open; they had a delivery from a Coca-Cola truck yesterday.

                  2. re: River19

                    I do not believe i am missing the point, I understand that many Italian Resturants are around them, i am also pretty sure the owners are probally also aware of that fact. This type of resturant is probally their speacilty, and most likely saw an opportunity to open a decent size resturant in a nice area, and i speak for myself but for me you can never have too many Italian resturants for example: Federal Hill all it is is Italian Resturants and most have been there for quite some time doin very well. my hope is that the ambiance is nice and staff is friendly and of coarse i hope the food to be good.

            2. I had dinner there on day 3 of opening. The food was excellent! The portion sizes were great and the presentation mirrored a fine dining establishment.
              The menu offers dishes from grilled pizza to hamburgers to veal, fish and beef selections.
              I was very impressed with the service and hope to visit again soon.
              Happy to have this new restaurant in the northern part of RI!

              1. I was one of a party of four which was anxiously awaiting the opening of Gia's. It turned out we ate there the first weekend they were open on Mother's Day weekend on Saturday night.

                I don't believe the restaurant was staffed for how busy it was but our server (Greg?) was as attentive as he could be considering. He appeared to genuinely care about the restaurant. The hostess and bus boy helped out as well. There was good teamwork by all and it was appreciated. Loved the effort and have no complaints.

                The food was really good. Arancini, fried mozzarella, salads and entrees were all well prepared. Portions were very large (especially the chicken parm) and prices very reasonable.

                The restaurant was very busy and remained that way. I wish them luck, I will definitely return.

                PS: for all those hoping for a “roadhouse” or barbecue place there was one up the road that fit the bill called Li’l Texas. You guys obviously never went there because it is closed. They deserved a better fate. The property is for sale so go for it.

                3 Replies
                1. re: grubmound

                  Grubmound, Thanks for the comprehensive review. As noted I plan to visit in the next few weeks. I HAVE been to Lil' Texas twice a few years back and was not impressed. OK, but not noteworthy. Places that have no / minimal windows tend to creep me out.
                  Though I may be in the minority on this camp, overly large servings (of anything) are not what I am after, though I understand the value quotient of getting a lot for the dollars spent. Prefer small samplings of a wide range of dishes, which I may be able to do at Gia if I order right.

                  1. re: grubmound

                    Lil' Tex didn't come close to fitting the bill. Average to aweful food is average to aweful food. I have been back and forth on that stretch for the better part of 2 decades and that place had beend on it's deathbed for the last couple years if not longer.

                    1. re: grubmound

                      Just returned from a trip to Gia's... My family LOVES pasta, lasagne, etc. I am a Weight Watcher's follower and was nervous. Four of us arrived at about 6:45 and were seated promptly in a half full dining room. Drink orders were placed and the waitstaff was friendly. We ordered several minutes later - three pasta dishes (ravioli, lasagne, spaghetti and meatballs) and salmon with veg and no oil/butter. Almost an HOUR later, we still had no food. When the manager came to our table he alluded to a "problem"in the kitchen and offered us a free dessert. Gee, how about a free drink? When the entrees arrived a full hour and fifteen minutes after our order, the salmon and vegetables was PERFECT!! HOwever, the pasta dishes were pedestrian and boring. Although there was lots left over, none of the three pasta lovers chose to take any home. Sad. The manager on duty was apologetic, but our bill was not comped a single beverage. The waitstaff was great - not their fault that the kitchen had an issue and the manager is a dork. I will not return. There are too many really good restaurants out there to go back to a turkey.

                    2. I went here last night, skeptical because of some of the postings.

                      First off, yes, there are a lot of italian restaurants in the area. BUT, are there good to excellent italian restaurants? No. So, this one stands out.

                      The food is fantastic. I am a bit of a food snob, I've travelled a lot and I've lived in big, international cities so I'm picky. This was good. The service was excellent. They've equipped the servers with vibrating pagers so when your order is up you get promptly.

                      The calamari appetizer was amazing. The steak done to perfection. I am very particular about my steak being rare when I say rare and it was! I didn't have room for dessert but the coffee was decent and I enjoyed myself.

                      The timing was perfect. We didn't wait too long between courses and we weren't rushed either. The server came around often enough to make sure we had what we needed but not too often to be annoying.

                      The atmosphere was wonderful and the decor was tasteful. The tables were well-spaced so I felt we had privacy.

                      As to those who wanted BBQ, I am sooo thankful that that didn't happen, We need a good restaurant for dates with your spouse and we finally have one. BBQ is fine but it's not date night material.

                      To those that complained about Easter. I worked in restaurants going to university. Never judge a restaurant on a holiday. They are a nightmare, they have to serve the same amount of food that gets served in a week on one day and the kitchen doesn't get any bigger. Whatever can go wrong does. The only time a holiday like that works is when they do it buffet style otherwise its chaos. I generally don't go out on those days, it's ridiculous.

                      To the owners, THANK YOU for ignoring the 'please turn into a BBQ place' note on your door and sticking to your vision.

                      I cannot wait to go back and try something else!!!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: whiskeytango

                        Glad you enjoyed it. My wife and I will check it out based on several thumbs up reviews. My only argument is with you stating "no Great Italian restaurants in the area". Bellas in Glendale, RI has been our go to place for close to ten years now and they have rarely been anything less than top drawer. ALWAYS lot of unusual daily specials and the chef will cook to a customer's order given a little lead time, as he has done for me on several occasions.

                        I live in Douglas and Bellas is 15 minutes from home. For what it is worth, they also have a large banquet facility and do a booming business during the summer, yet the kitchen still manages to keep up with the restaurant orders and not miss a beat. I would put Bellas up against any regional Italian/ American place in the area. It is a rare visit when the Patriarch / owner does not come over, greet us and chat about our wonderful dinner.

                        Why is a place serving BBQ or other southwest fare not a good place for dates? I would think it depends on the date and your biases, plus the food you order. A huge platter of coated ribs - probably not on a first date, but if the date is into honkytonk, line dancing, comfort food, this could be the deal sealer. I go for pretty fine fare myself (NYC native - sorry!), but don't presume to know what floats others' boats for a fine time out on the town, hence the wonderful and rich diversity of the various Chowhound blogs and opinions.

                        That said, we will hit Gia in the near future. Thanks for posting.