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Newport, RI Restaurant Itinerary Recommendations

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My boyfriend and I are visiting Newport in a couple of weeks and we’re looking for some good restaurant recommendations. We’re both in our late twenties / early thirties and are looking forward to our romantic getaway weekend from the city. The types of restaurants in the city we like are upscale casual, neighborhood bistros with great food and lots of character. For Newport, we’re looking for a couple of dinner spots that are romantic with a nice atmosphere, but still casual and moderately priced (around $20-25 for entrees.) It would be nice to have dinner one night at a restaurant that is very representative of Newport – perhaps a great seafood restaurant? The next night, we’d like to depart from seafood / New England fare and try something different.

We’re staying at a bed and breakfast, so we will have a large breakfast provided to start our day. We’ll probably go somewhere in the afternoon for a snack and drinks, somewhere fun and casual for relaxing in the afternoon after a day of sightseeing, so please feel free to recommend locations for that as well.

To break it down, we’re looking for:

Dinner Friday night
Dinner Saturday night
Bar / Afternoon snack locations

After reading through various forums, the following restaurants sound appealing for dinner reservations. Any comments, suggestions, additions, or subtractions to the list would be super helpful! I also put reasons for why each sound like they’d be good options.

Mooring Restaurant (New England fare, a good place to taste the regional cuisine and seafood of Newport)
Mama Lucia’s (seems like a cozy place with great Italian food, and a good departure from seafood)
Perro Salado (we love Mexican, and this place seems like it had inventive cuisine and a good atmosphere)
Clarke Cooke House (seems to be highly recommended, although I’m a little concerned it will be too fancy / stuffy for us)
Café Zelda (seems like a good neighborhood place, similar to a NYC bistro)

Any great casual seafood recommendations for a late lunch would welcome, too.

Thanks for your help!

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  1. For seafood you cannot beat Scales and Shells on Thames. Mama Lucia's is great. Was there 3 weeks ago and had a super meal. Would also highy recommend Cafe Zelda either for dinner or lunch. If you want fancy French Bouchard's has great food and a very attentive wait staff.
    Enjoy your stay.

    1. We enjoyed Mooring very much. Their "bag of doughnuts" are addictive. A seat at the bar is pleasant and a little more casual. We also liked Perro Salado and Scales and Shells (which is only open for dinner.) Pour Judgement is a favorite of ours- neighborhood bar with very good beer selection and good bar food with some a few notches above bar food. We've had good food a few times at Clarke Cooke and didn't find it stuffy at all.

      1. Peurini's is wonderful for Italian food. Nice atmosphere, not overly expensive. We love it there. Clarke Cooke House is not stuffy. VERY nice atmosphere. Alot of times we even go there for a drink after dinner. I have not been in awhile but downstairs is The Candy Store, a nightclub with great dance music. We go there for lunch sometimes also. Restaurant Bouchard is great food but very stuffy. For a dining experience you could go to Tahlulas. Perro Salado is cozy and we liked the food.

        1. I'm guessing that The City is NY...
          If so, I wouldn't recommend the Italian around here - very "red sauce" based.
          Rather than beating up on any restaurant and steering you away from other suggestions - here's my list, then look at their websites.
          Tallulah - great food - (there are foams and some molecular gastronomy type stuff) also mostly locally sourced.
          TSK - local, byob, very good, small but continually changing selections - I believe the chef/owners worked at BLT Prime together.
          Fifth Element - vibrant bar scene sometimes w/ live music - very good pub food.
          The Mooring - classic above average seafood, with a good view if you go during the day.
          Clarke Cooke House - fun scene - good food but sometimes has big misses - it's not too fancy (though some will be dressed as if it is - lot's of blue blazers!) - there's a dance club in the basement.
          Perro Salado, great martinis, very good non traditional mexican
          Zelda's is a good locals place, with a fun bar crowd.
          Have a great weekend.

          6 Replies
          1. re: harryharry

            Have to disagree with harryharry re: Italian in Newport. Mama Lucia's is in no way
            "red sauce" I'm Italian and their pasta rivials what my mother and grandmother use to make from scratch. The Gnocchi I had there recently was better than the "city" or what I had in Tuscany. Another great place, kinda of funky, is Tucker's Bistro.
            Enjoy your stay.

              1. re: im hungry

                Tucker's was closed only for the month of February

                1. re: jdgall

                  Tuckers just sold - I think that the food will be similar, but the decor will change - that's the current rumor anyway.

                  1. re: harryharry

                    tuckers is gonna be a bar,with bar food.another place bought by an irish guy,pretty soon theres gonna be more irish-owned then american-owned places in newport.....

            1. re: harryharry

              We felt that TSK was just okay, small portions,food okay... Great homemade donuts for dessert. We love tallulah's. Is everyone talking about Restaurant Lucia's or Mama Louisa's? Did they change their name? We always liked Restaurant Lucia better.

            2. We visit Newport each year and when we do, we dine at Anthony's in Middletown (seafood),
              The Mooring, and Tallulah (expensive, but worth it). Enjoy your trip.

              1 Reply
              1. re: Dana1949

                I'd just like to add to all those really really good choices... Sardellas. I always have a good meal there. I never see it talked about much on the board. It's not too expensive and a few times it won some kind of local award ( Italian food).

              2. You've gotten good recs, and I'm not going to pile on too much. But Clarke Cooke is a nice place, and definitely not too stuffy, even though you'll still get more of an old Newport vibe. Scales and Shells is good for seafood, but if I recall correctly they are cash only, so keep that in mind. That said, Tallulah on Thames is great, as others have said, but well out of your price range at ~$50-60 per person for 3-course prix fixe; although if I had two nights in Newport and were on somewhat of a budget, I'd eat dinner at Wendy's one night to be able to eat at Tallulah the second night. It's that good. Don't think of going there without a reservation, though.

                1. I think everyone is mixing up two different Italian restaurants. There is Lucia Italian Restaurant on Upper Thames and Mamma Luisa's on Lower Thames. Mamma Luisa is an excellent restaurant away from the hustle and bustle of downtown.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: jcanino

                    You are right I was referring to Mama Luisa's on lower Thames. Super place

                  2. I'll second (or third) the recommendations for Scales. Stop at the ATM first, then enjoy perfectly prepared fish with a skewer of fresh vegetables. Add a glass of wine and enjoy a wonderful meal at a very reasonable cost.