Honeymoon In Newport---Review
A few days ago we got back from our honeymoon in Newport. It was a wonderful place to go for a few days after our wedding in Boston. We really appreciate all the great recommendations we received from all of you. We were bummed we didn't get to try all of them (Scales and Shells chief among them!).
Here is a run down of the places we tried:
1. Pasta Beach-We actually ate here twice because it was near where we were staying (The Attwater) and we liked it so much. The Sunday night we arrived in town we were beyond exhausted and hadn't eaten all day so we really wanted something warm and filling. You all recommended this place for the pizza but really what was the true winner were the pastas. Apparently the chef and pizza maker are flown in directly from Italy each year---which you can really taste in the food.
The first night we ordered a boat load of food. We started with a salad of mozzarella and eggplant. The eggplant was beautifully seasoned and roasted. The only downside was there were only about 4 pieces and we wanted much more since it was so good. We then got a HUGE bowl of the pasta bolognese. It was spectacular and exactly what we were looking for on that cold night. It was served with fresh tagliatalle and parmesan cheese on the side. Since we were (somehow) still hungry after that we decided to order the eggplant and parmesan pizza. This was good but not amazing. We liked the eggplant more when it was on the salad.
We returned to Pasta Beach a few days later. Our intention was to go to Scales and Shells but we had a late lunch and by the time we checked the times of when the restaurant was open until our only real option was to rush over to Pasta Beach before it closed (it would have taken 20 minutes for us to walk to S&S). We had another excellent, all pasta meal this time. I got the pasta vongole (pasta with clams). This is one of my favorite dishes...when cooked right...and they nailed it. Fresh clams, fresh pasta, a flavorfull but light white wine sauce...very nice. My husband got a special pasta with eggplant (again...we really like this veggie), tomato sauce and ricotta. Everything was great once again. We had the same server (Rachael) who was friendly, helpful, and wonderful over all. If you are in Newport for a few days I definitely think Pasta Beach should be on your list. It's cute, cozy, and delicious.
2. Brick Alley Pub-We went here for lunch on Monday (which happened to be Columbus Day). They place was PACKED so we had to wait about 30-40 minutes. We grabbed a beer at the bar and entertained ourselves by looking at all the decorations on the wall. We wanted a big seafood lunch so we ordered multiple items (all bets were off on this trip....I no longer had to fit in a wedding dress haha). We started with the spectacular clam special. Apparently this dish has been featured in Bon Appetit as one of the best clam recipes of all time and we can see why. It came in a huge bowl doused in sauce with a buttery, spicy taste. Big pieces of chorizo, red pepper, and onion were included. This dish was amazing. I'm so glad the recipe can be found online (except it's hard to find such fresh clams in Michigan!) so I can try to recreate it. For a main course I got the lobster roll. It was enormous and very good. I'm a lobster roll snob and this passed my test. My husband got the steak tip wrap since the waitress recommended it. He's from the Midwest and he's never had steak tips before (a staple of mine growing up in Boston). He really enjoyed the flavor. It also came with delicious garlic mashed potatoes.
3. Fluke-For dinner Monday night we went to Fluke. This restaurant is wonderful and probably the best high end meal we had the whole trip. Upon arriving they congratulated us on our wedding (we had it on the Open Table reservation) and sat us at a great table by the window. Our server Alyssa was great---friendly and helpful with recommendations. For drinks I ordered the Hemingway daquiri (a personal favorite) since it was written up in a newspaper article outside the restaurant. It was nice and refreshing. For appetizers we shared the salt cod croquettes (which was served with an awesome citrus aioli). I'm not normally a fan of salt cod but this was so well balanced with the potatoes that they were delicious---perfectly fried and still managed to be light. We also ordered a simple grilled bread with white bean spread and carmelized onions---simple and delicious. It went well this the cocktails.
For a main course we shared the rabbit orchiette. This was a great, light pasta dish. Full of flavor. The rabbit was braised and pulled. For dessert I had a great pumpkin tart and the husband had a chocolate/banana bread pudding. Our waitress also brought out 2 glasses of prosecco for us, which was a lovely touch. This is a really good restaurant, that would do well in any large city but fits in perfectly in Newport.
3. Castle Hill-It was a beautiful, sunny day on Tuesday. After doing the Cliff Walk we had a long, leisurely lunch at Castle Hill. We were debating staying here originally and after seeing the place we were deeply regretting not splurging on a room there. Everything about this lunch was perfect and probably one of the best days we had in Newport. To start my husband had a bowl of the clam chowder. We had a couple of chowders throughout the week and this was probably our favorite. Super balanced and flavorful. For a main course I had a great chicken pressed sandwich, it was Cuban style with chicken, proscuitto, and a mustard sauce that was delicious. It was served with a pickle and housemade chips. Really tasty and filling. My husband had a CT-style lobster roll that was wonderful. Buttery and filled with lobster meat.
We enjoyed our lunch here so much that we decided we want to come back in the summer sometime and just stay at Castle Hill---it's the perfect place for a relaxing vacation of eating good food, sipping cocktails, and reading a book on the lawn chairs.
4. Black Pearl- After some mansion visits we went to Black Pearl for lunch one day. It was recommended on this board and I think the environment is great---old school, New England fish restaurant feel. The place was packed so we ended up sitting at the bar. The bartender was pretty clueless when it came to the menu. I have to say overall I was disappointed by this meal. It wasn't horrible but it wasn't great either. We shared a bowl of chowder, which I thought was the best part of the meal but not the best chowder we had all week. I ordered the lobster croissant sandwich and overall it was just eh. They made a number of weird mistakes on the sandwich---they included a tomato which had no place on the sandwich. And instead of lettuce they put raddichio on the sandwich, which makes no sense to me. Why would you add such a bitter taste to such a sweet, lobster dish? It kind of ruined it for me. My husband got the fried Nantucket bay scallops. This dish was pretty good and he really liked it. Personally I would have sent it back because technically the scallops were not fried properly---they had no crispness, almost like they were pre-fried and then heated back up. That said, my husband doesn't really love heavy fried foods so this worked out well for him because it was more of a light breading with a sweet scallop inside.
I think the environment and location of Black Pearl is good but personally I thought the food at the Mooring was much better.
5. Tallulah-For our last night in Newport we went to Tallulah. We made the reservation a month in advance, got all dressed up and I was super excited for this meal. Unfortunately it was a little disappointing. The food wasn't bad---in fact it was quite good. But it was certainly overpriced for what it was and they made one big mistake that set the night off with a bad taste in our mouths. We knew the menu was very small so a few days before we walked by the restaurant to make sure there was stuff on there we liked. My husband got very excited by the Venison dish. When we sat down he immediately said he was getting the venison for his main course. You can imagine our disappointment when the waitress came over and told us they ran out of venison! They didn't replace it with anything---no steak or lamb on reserve in the fridge...nothing. This was particularly troublesome since there are only about 5 items on the entire entree menu. One of them was a pork loin which we don't eat. The other was a vegetarian ravioli. Then there was a fish dish and a chicken dish. Since we were spending so much money for the pre-fix menu my husband really had his heart set on a meat dish...which at this point was out. He ended up ordering the roast chicken---which was quite good, but still it is chicken and just doesn't have the celebratory feel. I had the fluke which was really delicious. The food was tasty (especially the appetizers--I had a great kale salad) but nothing that knocked our socks off. We mostly just left feeling disappointed. I understand that restaurants run out of items but when you have such a limited menu and are charging so much money perhaps they should have a few steaks or duck breasts laying around in case everyone ordered the venison by 8pm.
6. The Mooring- After a disappointing dinner the night before we were redeemed with a great final meal in Newport at the Mooring for lunch. We sat in the enclosed, heated deck looking over the boats. We had a great server who made wonderful suggestions. We started with their "award-winning" scallop chowder. This was really tasty, with dill and a light cream. Only about 2 scallops so there could have been more but this was a nice change up from a week of clam chowders. We also shared the "bag of doughnuts" which is lobster, shrimp and crab fritters. It is served with a maple chipotle aioli which is flat out addictive. These fritters are HUGE and really unique. The serving size is really more fitting for 4 or 5 people. A real winning dish. We also shared the blackened swordfish wrap which came with a tasty, tropical pineapple salsa. Everything was just wonderful and great capstone to a memorable trip.
We look forward to returning to Newport now that we have more a feel of the land. Thank you so much for all your recs!
Mazel tov and glad you had a great time in RI!
That Tallulah experience would have really pissed me off. We almost never order anything with chicken since we eat so much of it and in no would it make up for venison (nor would pork loin, just too ordinary) as part of a pre fixe dinner.
Maybe I'm getting crankier in my old age but I would have made it quite clear that I was on my honeymoon and felt extremely disappointed by the entire experience.
I have found that taking the time to write a detailed email to the general manager really gets their attention.
re: Bob W
My husband expressed his disappointment to the waitress and in general she kind of blew it off....she just said sorry and that was it. He thought perhaps if they couldn't have done something special with another entree, they should have provided some sort of good will gesture.
I agree that sometimes it's not the initial mess up that causes a bad experience but mostly the way a restaurant deals with it. I've been to restaurants that have really screwed up an order but because they brought out a slice of free cheesecake and sent the manager over to apologize I have returned time and time again.
Tallulah kind of fell flat on that front. And considering it wasn't an easy reservation to get (we had to call exactly a month before we wanted to dine there and I most certainly told them we were there for our honeymoon), it made it all the more disappointing.
Yes, it's all in the post-mishap handling. Year ago, when Mrs. W and I got married, we tried arranging a family dinner at a local, very well known restaurant. They basically butchered it and we had to go somewhere else. I wrote a long note to the manager. When the chef (you'd know his name) heard what had happened, he was mortified. For our troubles, they gave us a dinner for four, which turned out (this was back in 1996) to be a $250 meal. That's how you make amends!
I'm glad you like Pasta Beach. I have never had the pizza there but their Bolognese sauce was one of, if not the best, I ever had. I made it a point to talk to the chef on the way out one day and told him so. He said that he better know how to make a Bolognese sauce as he was from Bologna! I also love The Mooring. In fact I drove to Newport from the Hartford area to take my daughter to lunch and it was at The Mooring.
Congrats on the wedding! May you be as happy as my wife and I have been for almost 30 years!
Thanks for the report, Elyssa! Your thread was filled with such excellent discussion of the Newport dining scene--I lurked but figured I'd better leave it to the locals. Your husband's experience at Tallulah is exactly the sort of thing that would put me off a meal. I mean, who feels happy ordering chicken when they expect to have venison? They sure know how to present food at Tallulah--rarely have I seen prettier plates anywhere--but if they don't have what you want, it's still bound to be a disappointment. Nice to hear that you had a good mini-honeymoon in Newport overall, and congratulations!!
The food at Tellulah is indeed very beautiful. Even the butter was pretty to look at. The flavor combinations were very nice and everything was perfectly cooked. But as you mentioned---when you expect one thing and end up with something much more run of the mill as a main course it changes the evening.