Archive for August, 2011

Jerry and Rose take the bus to Foxwoods Casino when they're in Rhode Island.

My step-mother’s parents, Rose and Jerry (aka Bubbie and Zadie), retired to Florida over 17 years ago. Every year, they return to Rhode Island — the state in which they were born, raised their children, and lived most of their lives.

Of course, they come to visit family, but their journey has also become a pilgrimage to their old favorite restaurants and sights. Their carefully culled picks have nothing to do with hot spots that may rise and fall from the Best of Rhode Island lists. Instead, these are the places that have persisted through the generations and have come to represent a moment in time in Rhode Island.

1. At Twin Oaks in Cranston, they always order the baked stuffed shrimp. They say the shrimp are “scrawny” in Florida compared with the five jumbo shrimps at Twin Oaks. But it’s the stuffing they crave. They also like that when you order a cocktail, like a Black Russian, you get “a drink and a half.” Other favorites here include the house salad dressing and the homemade chocolate pudding.

2. Florida may be the “Sunshine State,” but Rhode Island is still the “Ocean State.” Every year, they plan a beach day at either Narragansett Town Beach or Sand Hill Cove (Roger Wheeler). They love the way the land gradually slopes out to the ocean rather than the abrupt way the land drops at the Hollywood and Fort Lauderdale beaches. (Although they admit the Gulf waters on the west coast of Florida are warm, and the beaches have a more gradual dip.) Still, nothing is better than sitting on the sea wall in Narragansett as the sun is rising or setting. Clam cakes and chowder (which they call chowda) are a must at either Aunt Carrie’s, Champlin’s, or George’s of Galilee.

3. At Crow’s Nest in Warwick, they enjoy the lobster salad sandwiches and their sugar-free blueberry pie.

4. Chello’s by the water in Warwick is a must for the Jim Dandy Burger and the banana berry pie, served only in season.

5. Their trip to Rhode Island is not complete without a Conway Bus day trip to Foxwood Casinos in Connecticut. For 24 dollars a ticket, you get bus service to and from the hotel along with food and gambling vouchers. They give you more in vouchers than the price of the ticket expecting that visitors will wind up spending more gambling. But for Rose and Jerry, it’s a deal.

6. They adore the chocolate walnut ice cream from Brickley’s in Narragansett on route 1A. You can also get Brickley’s in Wickford served in the former Ryan’s market.

7. They love to quench their thirst on a hot beach day with a classic Del’s lemonade. Now with locations in over a dozen states, Del’s started in Cranston. Rose still remembers the owner, Mr. Delucia.

8. They love events like the East Greenwich Main Street stroll; concerts in Wickford and Cranston’s Garden City; and tours in Newport, RI and Mystic, Connecticut.

9. They can’t resist the coffee “cabinets” from Newport Creamery.

10. And no trip is complete without some Walt’s roast beef sandwiches.

Twin Oaks (since 1933)
100 Sabra Street
Cranston, RI
www.twinoaksrest.com

Aunt Carrie’s Seafood (since 1920)
1240 Ocean Road
Narragansett, RI
www.auntcarriesri.com

Champlin’s Seafood (since 1932)
See previous post

George’s of Galilee (since 1948)
250 Sand Hill Cove Road
Narragansett, RI
www.georgesofgalilee.com

Crow’s Nest (since 1966)
288 Arnolds Neck Drive
Warwick, RI
www.crowsnestri.com

Chelo’s on the Waterfront (since 1955)
1 Masthead Drive
Warwick, RI
www.chelos.com

Foxwoods Resort Casinos (since 1986)
www.foxwoods.com

Brickley’s (since 1995)
See previous post.

Del’s Lemonade (since 1948)
www.dels.com

Newport Creamery (since 1940)
See previous post.

Walt’s Roast Beef (since 1957)
www.waltsroastbeef.net

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A lobster roll at Champlin's.

In my experience, there are no two lobster rolls created equally.  Sometimes they have mayo, sometimes they have butter, and other times, neither. I’m willing to try them all, but I only like a few.

In Rhode Island, my favorite remains Flo’s Clam Shack, which makes the plainest lobster roll I’ve ever had — unadorned lobster meat on a hot dog bun with lettuce. You can add the mayo yourself (I don’t).  Knowing that dessert at Frosty Freez is not far away, makes it even better.

Recently, I tried the lobster roll at Champlin’s Seafood, where they mix the lobster meat with mayo and celery. Of course, you can’t beat the location — as my out-of-town friends gazed at the boats in the water at Galilee, they said, “This is exactly what you think of when you think of New England.” I also had them order one of my local favorites — clam cakes (think hushpuppies with clams mixed in) — which were a huge hit as well.

As a local, perhaps my favorite part of Champlin’s is the seafood store downstairs, where you can buy fresh scallops, tuna, swordfish, shrimp, etc. to cook at home. And if you pick up some fresh-picked corn at a farm on your way home, you’ll really have the perfect summer meal.

Flo’s Clam Shack
4 Wave Ave
Middletown, RI

Park Avenue
Portsmouth, RI 02871
www.flosclamshack.net

Champlin’s Seafood
256 Great Island Road
Narragansett, RI
www.champlins.com

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The bumper boats are equipped with water guns for maximum soaking.

Apparently it takes a few friends from France and Germany on holiday to help me find the only amusement park in Rhode Island. Granted, it is small — I’ve passed it dozens of times and never even noticed the sign. That, and I’ve never gone looking for go-karts, although having since ridden one, I can tell you that’s no longer true.

Go-karts speed around the track.

At Adventureland, there are batting cages, go-karts, bumper boats, a carousel, and a 18-hole mini-golf course. Madeline and I rode a go-kart together since she’s too short (under 44 inches) to ride herself. We picked a car with two steering wheels, and I double-checked to make sure mine was the working one before getting started. I did notice that the double go-karts appeared rigged to go a slower — even though we started in the front and had petal to the metal, some over 44-inch tall kids traveling alone passed us.

Madeline equally enjoyed the carousel and the bumper boats. It’s not exactly the full-day event that many amusement parks are, but it may actually be just enough…

Adventureland
112 Point Judith Road (Route 108)
Narragansett, RI
www.adventurelandri.com

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