Providence has received many accolades for being a great food city; including being named one of the best new food cities by Jetsetter, a best foodie destination by 10Besties Readers’ Choice Travel Award, and one of the best small cities in the world for dining by Saveur magazine Culinary Travel awards. But Providence doesn’t have exclusivity on good food in Rhode Island.
Here is our list of the best restaurants in Rhode Island (at least in my humble opinion.) Do you have others you think I should try? Leave a comment below and I’ll update this post as I discover new gems.
Best Restaurants in Rhode Island
I don’t claim to have tried every restaurant in Rhode Island and obviously, food preferences are a bit objective, but here are my favorite restaurants in Rhode Island based on food, service, and ambiance. All of these would make perfect date night restaurants for a special occasion or fun night (or lunch) out!
The Lawn at Castle Hill, Newport
If you are looking for a perfect spot for a special lunch or want to catch a beautiful sunset, book a table at The Lawn at Castle Hill in Newport. After dining at the patio or drinks at the bar, you can sit in some of the Adirondack chairs on the expansive lawn and watch the boats sailing past the Newport Pell Bridge.
The Lawn at Castle Hill is located at 590 Ocean Drive, Newport, RI
Matunuck Oyster Bar, Wakefield
My favorite oysters in the world are the small, sweet Matunuck Oysters. Farmed just off their docks, these little delicacies have just the right mix of flavor, brine, and sweetness. The raw oysters are amazing but you should also try the grilled oysters and oysters Rockefeller. The bar is a popular after-beach spot, with a line out the door, especially if you want to take advantage of the happy hour specials. However, if you want to plan a special dinner in the restaurant, make sure you make a reservation weeks in advance.
Matunuck Oyster Bar is located at 629 Succotash Road, Wakefield, RI
La Masseria, East Greenwich
The owners of this East Greenwich ristorante have roots in Capri, Italy and you can tell from the authentic cuisine from the Puglia region. I’ve never had a dish I didn’t love at La Masseria but my very favorites include the crispy fried zucchini, the fettuccini with eggplant and smoked mozzarella, the house special pasta with egg and truffle (OMG amazing), and the creamy ricotta cheesecake. For something extra special go in the winter when the white truffle menu is in season.
La Masseria is located at 223 Main Street, East Greenwich, RI
Located right on the riverfront on South Water Street, Bacaro is my favorite Italian restaurant in Providence and it is also a great place to eat on a Waterfire night. The crispy, thin-crust grilled Margherita pizza is unbelievably delicious and I can never stop eating it until it is gone. While it is easy to fill up on all the tasty small plates and salumi, I always save room for the amazing Pasta con i Funghi, which is tagliatelle with butter, Parmesan-Reggiano, white truffle-scented egg and mushroom duxelles. Bacaro is great with a group because you can share some of the Italian small plates from the salumeria.
Bacaro is located at 262 S. Water Street, Providence RI
Bellini brings the timeless Italian of the Cipriani family to Providence. Located in The Beatrice Hotel, the elegant dining room is perfect for a special night out. The menu isn’t extensive, but each dish is carefully prepared. The grilled langoustines and pasta with black truffle are worth a visit.
Bellini is located at 50 Westminster St, Providence, RI
Nick’s on Broadway, Providence
Nick’s may be small but it is just the best when it comes to fresh, local produce prepared in a unique and thoughtful style. Whether it is lunch, dinner or the chef’s tasting menu this Providence westside bistro is a must-try for visitors and locals.
Nick’s on Broadway is located at 500 Broadway, Providence, RI
Al Forno, Providence
Al Forno is the restaurant that first put Providence on the food map. It is also where the chef at Bacaro learned to make an incredible wood-grilled pizza. Our favorites are the clams Al Forno, pasta with roasted clams in a very spicy sauce, and the cavatelli with roasted butternut squash are some of our favorites.
Al Forno is located at 577 S Water St, Providence, RI
Mill’s Tavern, Providence
This Providence classic is my go-to restaurant for date nights or special occasions. The brick and wood interior gives it a sophisticated and romantic atmosphere. It went through a rough patch a few years ago but it seems to have regained its reputation for fine dining. The oysters, littlenecks, foie gras, and steaks are delicious but I make sure to save room for their bread pudding.
Mill’s Tavern is located at 101 North Main St, Providence, RI
New Rivers, Providence
New Rivers is one of the first New American restaurants we tried when we first moved to Providence over 20 years ago. The fact that it is still going strong tells you something. While it isn’t fancy, the historic setting and classic dishes make for a lovely dinner choice.
New Rivers is located at 7 Steeple St, Providence, RI
If you are looking for a foodie experience, make a reservation for a Chef’s Tasting menu at Gracie’s with Sommelier-selected wine pairings. The private dining room is also an ideal spot for a special event. The dishes are creatively and beautifully prepared and unlike other dining experiences in Providence.
Gracie’s is located at 194 Washington Street, Providence, Rhode Island
Oberlin has gained national recognition and Chef Benjamin Sukle was a James Beard Award Finalist. Oberlin focuses on local ingredients and nose-to-fin cooking of the freshest fish with a small, seasonal menu that is constantly changing.
Oberlin is located at 186 Union Street, Providence, RI
Hemenway’s is our go-to spot for great seafood or surf and turf in an elegant setting, making it ideal for special occasions. Start with the shellfish tower and then try the baked stuffed shrimp, lobster, or the yellowfin tuna.
Hemenway’s is located at 121 South Main Street, Providence, RI
Persimmon focuses on ingredient and technique-driven American cuisine with the creative vision and execution of ChefChampe Speidel. The menu changes often but the variety of small plates and mix of main dishes makes Persimmon a good spot to go with friends.
Persimmon is located at 99 Hope Street Providence, RI
Capital Grille, Providence
If you let Capital Grille know that you are celebrating a special occasion, they go above and beyond to make sure you have an excellent experience, including rose petals and confetti on the table for anniversaries. I was reluctant to include a chain restaurant on this list but the quality and service at Capital Grille demands to be included.
Capital Grille is located at 10 Memorial Blvd Ste 101, Providence, RI
Cara at The Chanler at Cliff Walk, Newport
The Chanler at Cliff Walk is one of the most elegant hotels in Rhode Island and its fine dining restaurant, Cara, offers a journey of gastronomic discovery. Save this one for a very special occasion (or an expense budget!) This Forbes Five Star restaurant offers a nightly changing five or eight-course blind tasting menus featuring contemporary cuisine, which is inspired by both European influence and sustainable New England ingredients.
Cara at The Chanler at Cliff Walk is located at 117 Memorial Blvd, Newport, RI