It's been a few months since we ate at New Rivers, that wonderful, warm "American bistro" tucked into the base of the hill overlooking what used to be a cove at the head of Narragansett Bay and is now the heart of downtown (or "Downcity}" as the locals flavor it) Providence. Bruce Tillinghast, founder and for many years chef-owner of New Rivers, retired recently and sold the operation to his longtime executive chef Beau Vestal and his wife-to-be, Elizabeth LaMantia.
More to the point, though, the food at New Rivers, like Persimmon,
focuses on local ingredients superbly prepared, often in unique and
different ways from their competitors. Moreover, it's the lack of
pretension in producing such finely crafted meals that sets both
restaurants apart, a quality that keeps us coming back to Broadway
Bistro, Nick's on Broadway and Ama's as well. These chefs don't ride
trends they create them, and if they don't create them they massage
trends into something uniquely their own and then lay the results out on
a plate for the rest of us to enjoy.
And enjoy we did at New Rivers.
While sipping a glass of prosecco with a splash of Campari we ordered a couple of nibbles: RI codfish fritters and local asparagus, both cooked to perfection and the asparagus tasting so sweet and delicate with shaved piave on top -- you really should have been there! And while they're listed as nibbles they are filling for two to be sure.
For our main course Susie ordered the caramel pasta stuffed with cheese
and goodies and I had the soft polenta with Beau's own smoked pork
sausage, washed down with a half bottle of Sancerre. New Rivers still
has one of the best wine lists in town, handpicked at a price point that
won't break the bank.
We also got to try Beau's own smoked, raw arctic char -- slightly warm with a pleasant hint of sea salt this was an incredible treat, not fishy or off-putting but almost sweet and so flavorful topped by capers and red onions.
We're going back. And so should you. . .