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From Broadway to DownCity

Pre-opening Photo Of Nick’s On Westminster Courtesy Of Their Instagram

It was only day two of business for Nick’s on Westminster and the place was hopping. There was a buzz in the air in this funky, fun welcome addition to the downtown - or as we used to say - downcity area.

In fact, the vibe reminded me of the long gone and still missed DownCity Diner (later changed to DownCity when it reopened in a new location after a tragic yet legendary brisket fire).

At the new Nick’s (that has a catchy ring to it!), the second restaurant from Nick’s on Broadway’s Derek Wagner, you can choose how to spend your evening: have fun at the bar, grab a table with your favorite foursome or enjoy something a little more intimate just for two. As a local treasure and James Beard Best Chef Northeast semifinalist, the expectations for Wagner are high and he and his team more than rise to the occasion.

The fine touches and details are there – the menu cover, for example, is a soft smooth leather that you just want to rub all…never mind. Where were we? 

The bar is beautiful: huge, spacious, welcoming. We sat there the whole night and the service was stellar. It’s a great spot to watch the show both inside and outside the restaurant. 

The bartenders – calling themselves the A-Team because their first names all began with the letter A - made some great recommendations for drinks and food and they didn’t disappoint.

More Drink Options At Nick’s On Westminster

For booze, you can choose from an interesting wine and beer (including drafts!) list or order your favorite cocktail. My go-to drink – a Ketel One dirty martini – was perfectly dirty and my companion enjoyed his Grey Sail Captain’s Daughter (from the Westerly-based brewer). They probably have some non-booze beverages too, but what’s the point, really? 

Then there’s the food. In all my years, I have never had roasted and seasoned green olives. How have I missed out on this delicacy? They were a little messy to eat with their pits still intact but they were delicious. If I had drool running down my chin it was worth it. And I was provided with a lovely cloth napkin to take care of any mess. 

I’m always a fan of risotto and the entree at Nick’s was delightful: black bean risotto with kale and mushrooms. I’m usually not a fan of kale but it was just the right amount to give the whole dish a little fresh crunch. The risotto was light, not heavy and thick like it’s served in some places, so the entrée felt the right amount for an early dinner in the middle of the week. 

My co-conspirator enjoyed the tomato soup which was full of just the right herbs and spices and tasted like the best pasta sauce he’d ever had. Once he got a spoon, he dug in and enjoyed. I turned my head and when I looked back it was pretty much gone. I’m not saying he didn’t offer me a taste, but I don’t remember being asked. 

Nick’s on Westminster is off to a great start. It’s definitely a place I will visit again and may even make a regular hangout. Check it out and let them know you heard it about it from Patty J.com!

 About The Author

Hugh Minor is a very social introvert who loves to explore both the new and old haunts of Providence. Sometimes he even gets out to faraway places like Cranston (hello, Pawtuxet Village!). He hates to cook so he relies on the local restaurant scene for survival. A communications professional by day, he uses his skills and talents for good. 

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Hot dogs are an all American summer staple, getting marquee billing at cookouts in backyards and at parks across the country this time of the year.

So, what’s a plant-based eater circa 2019 supposed to do?

Our friends at by CHLOE. (Celebrity fans of their made fresh vegan offerings include Miley, Anna Kendrick, and Sara Silverman. Also, before she became the Duchess of Sussex, during the hey day of her lifestyle blog The Tig, Meghan Markle was rumored to be a fan of their LA locations.) have come to the rescue this week, partnering with Harry & Ida’s and Sir Kensington to roll out a brand new Carrot Dog.

And they invited us to sample a few yesterday (It was, after all, National Hot Dog Day!) at their bright and engaging location on Providence’s East Side.

Already famous for their Guac Burgers (which many in foodie circles have dubbed the vegan answer to Shake Shack), fries (which I can and will confirm are dangerously good!), and Kale Caesar, by CHLOE.’s Carrot Dog is serious business from a culinary standpoint.

Before being served to us on warm potato buns with plenty of Sir Kensington Mustard around dinner time last night, our CD’s were made using carrots that were first handpicked, then cured, seasoned (with salt, pepper, garlic, & oregano), smoked (over locally sourced oak and maple wood), aged, and finally grilled to perfection.

In other words, they’ve put a lot of care and attention into the multi-step process of cooking up an entirely plant-based dog that looks and tastes phenomenal.

Now, I absolutely loved mine, but the true test would be the opinion of the person who took the photos you see here, who is neither vegan nor vegetarian. Ecstatic to report that she declared it “yummy…and better than a traditional hot dog!”

That’s really saying something, if you ask me.

Get yours - along with a peach lemonade and chocolate cupcake (I took mine home and devoured it while catching up on the latest episodes of Bravo TV’s Southern Charm last night.) whilst you’re at it - at their RI location at 223 Thayer Street in PVD.

*Thanks again to the amazing people at by CHLOE. for inviting us in to try this exciting addition to their menu.

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The Top Of The Towers Photo By I-Stock/Getty Images

You've probably been to Gansett more than a few times already this summer, but what about...35 Ocean Road? Also known as The Towers. In case you've always wondered about that iconic landmark overlooking the shore, here are a few fun factoids to use as ice breakers at your next cocktail party (I'll be the one off to the side updating Insta Story and chatting with pretty much the same person the entire time.), networking event or other (potentially awkward) social situation this season.

1. Here Come The Brides

Sites like The Knot and Wedding Wire are abuzz about it! Yeah, in case you haven't planned a ceremony or reception, or been a guest of in the last few years, you should know that it's become an in demand wedding venue. The event photos people have uploaded to Instagram are stunning; search #thetowersri on Instagram to get a glimpse.

2. And We Complain About Out Of State Plates Now...

The Towers has had a few other incarnations prior to this of course, most notably as a key part of a resort called the Narragansett Pier Casino back in the 1890's, aka, the Gilded Age (or as I like to call it, the Roaring 90's) where the elite (all the fancy peeps - as in, socialities, their spouses, their offspring, and some of their staff) would decamp from places such as New York to spend weeks, if not the entire season, on the water in Narragansett.

*A devastating fire in 1900 destroyed most of the resort, except The Towers and its granite walls. That fire is numero uno on a laundry list of catastrophes The Towers has weathered over the years btw.

3. Something To Chew On

Ok, this is a biggie. I mean I don't recall ever hearing this before, but whilst doing some online research about 35 Ocean Rd, I came across something on Wikipedia about how the dish Clams Casino originated at the old Narragansett Pier Casino (which included The Towers) and was named as such for said Casino (or resort...The word casino had absolutely nothing to do with gambling back in the day.). I say start telling your friends & fam about this next time you're out for dinner. It's not like you're saying your uncle was the man who created The Cobb Salad or something, right? (Remember the Curb Your Enthusiasm episode I co-opted that from?)

4. Here For The Beats

Photo Courtesy Of PattyJ.com

See the interior of The Towers for yourself and enjoy some live tunes! Every Thursday as part of their Summer Series, they're featuring different local bands and musicians from 7 to 10pm. They also have new overhead lighting that uses less energy and equally as important, doesn't throw any additional heat - because who needs that with the temps we've been experiencing lately. Check out their FB or site for complete details.

 

Photo Credits: Photo of the exterior of The Towers used with permission and licensing from Getty Images

*This post has been revised and updated from one that appeared on the site during the Summer of 2018.

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Summertime and the living’s easy…leisurely, relaxing, dare I say, routine? The kids have been out of school for about a month now and the big summer holiday is behind us. (Unless you’re a native Rhody and get a bonus holiday next month.) Summer’s laid-back pace has likely given way to that phrase that most parents dread, “I’m bored!” (For the record, my parents never dreaded that phrase because it was the sound of their offspring volunteering to clean out the garage, sweep out the basement or weed the garden.) Maybe it’s the grown-ups in the house, weary from keeping up the small talk at yet another cook-out, getting antsy and needing some adventure.  

No need to fret, I’ve got the day trip for you! It will wow your co-workers at the watercooler, transform you into the cool parents on the block and make your kids eager to go back to school just to tell all their friends (j/k they’ll post it on Instagram.) Have you heard about Brownstone Exploration & Discovery Park in nearby Portland, Connecticut? Most Rhode Islanders can get there in about 90 minutes.

Photo Courtesy Of The Brownstone Park Instagram

I have enjoyed this park and all it has to offer for a few years now with my kids, with my kids and their friends and also with my own friends. Once a quarry, it is now a water park that boasts wake boarding, kayaking, paddle-boarding, scuba-diving, zip-lining and cliff-jumping. There is an assortment of inflatable structures to climb up, balance on, bounce upon, you can even get launched from one! Whatever degree of thrill-seeking you crave, there is something to please you.  

Do you like to zipline? Have you been meaning to give ziplining a try? Eleven ziplines are available. Up for a challenge? Climb a rock wall or cargo net to a zipline. Want an adrenaline rush? There is a drop zipline, a high cliff jump (18 and over only, please) and a lower cliff jump for youngsters. There is even a kiddie beach suitable for toddlers with smaller inflatables. Did I mention the water slide or the rope swing or the tug of war set-up? Or, you can just chill in the water for a while if you want (everyone gets a life jacket.)  

The park is very family-friendly and the vibe encouraging and supportive. I’ve struck up great convos in line. People will even cheer you on when you jump off the cliff! Yes, you can pack a lunch, no glass or alcohol, please, or there is a snack bar with burgers and brick oven pizza, if you prefer. Parking is free, gazebos are rentable, here is everything else you need to know to plan a trip. Oh, and lockers are available because for once this summer your kids will put their phones down…until it is time to leave and they want to send pix to their friends. 

About The Author

Christina is a life-long Rhode Islander who has been dedicated to mission-driven human services work. A mother of two, she recycles, composts, and runs her household with solar energy. An animal lover and a world traveler, this bon vivant has jumped out of a plane, bungee jumped (twice!), ran over the Newport Bridge, swam across Narragansett Bay, and penguin plunged.

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The terrace at one of my fave Newport hotels has been rechristened The Cafe at The Chanler (per a recent Instagram post of theirs anyway) and I can’t think of a better excuse to take a personal day this month and motor on over.

We popped by this past weekend for a little dinner (Adored the cute tiny menus and the on-trend succulents on all the tables.) and it was as magical as ever!

The exceptional views of Easton’s Beach and the subtle yet elegant surroundings set a mood that’s both memorable and serene. The terrace definitely has a feeling of old school, casual glamour (I feel like if, say, George and Amal or Harry and Meghan were going to stay in Newport, they would pick The Chanler.) mixed with all the delights of being in Rhode Island on the water during the month of July (or August…or September, which if we’re really lucky this year will essentially be an extension of that Summertime weather most of us anticipate with great enthusiasm).

My only call-outs would be menu wise - would love, love, LOVE to see more plant based options and maybe even a mocktail or two. (Recently we were at the famous red bar - aka, The Gallery, I believe - at the Carlyle in NYC and were pleasantly surprised to see about a half dozen non-alcoholic creative cocktails to choose from. That’s all I’m saying.) The kitchen was kind enough, though, to whip up a nice little custom salad for me with greens, avocado, olives, and tomatoes, in addition to the grilled flatbread pizza appetizer I’d ordered.

You can go with your SO, or that friend who knows how to take the most flattering selfies. Or that person in your life who makes it a point of strolling the Cliff Walk at least once around this time of year.

I mean, it’s an easy, funtastic way to turn your next afternoon into a bit of a staycation, without having to actually pack a bag, stress over your warm weather wardrobe, or bemoan the fact that you’re the only one in your group who doesn’t own an Away Suitcase.

***The Chanler at Cliff Walk is located at 117 Memorial Blvd., Newport, RI.

Photo Credits: All photos courtesy of PattyJ.com

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That Rock And Roll Lifestyle

Heck yeah, it's rockier than Gansett, but that's part of its charm!

Speaking of which, someone wrote a whole essay (a love/hate letter really) in the NY Times a few years back about the rocky beaches in Little Compton and growing up there and it’s required reading for any current and former Rhody residents.

Don’t Worry, Beach Happy

Whether you fancy yourself a mermaid at heart or not, you’re going to want to add this beach to your Summer2019 rotation with your squad.

The locals? I’m guessing that they probably won't be too jazzed about my saying this (They've become famous for wanting to keep the town off the radar so to speak.), but if you get a chance to sample South Shore Beach in Little Compton, you’ll see why they’d rather keep it hush hush.

Quite simply, it checks all the boxes when it comes to a little something called New England Postcard Pretty.

* Also, for the record, I found out later that the adjacent area that's completely overrun with tons of rocks isn't techinically part of South Shore and is in fact a preserve of some sort. Peaceful for sure, but it does make for tough walking, especially if you're barefoot.

Eat. Sleep. Beach. Repeat

My best tip for beaching it there ty?

Go after 2pm.

It usually isn't as crazy hot or crowded.

Those who live for the summer sun and sand, and who most likely made their way over hours earlier, are by that point probably packing up their cars and heading homeward.

A perfect opportunity then to enjoy South Shore to the fullest and take a nice mellow, meditative walk along the water.

Shell Yeah!

If you're looking for Dunkin, a Starbucks, or any kind of fast food (any traditional restaurants or coffee shops really), you are outta luck in LC.

What you will find are several charming farm stands over on West Main Road where you can pick up in season veggies and fruits, plants and flowers, and maybe even a pie or two. Young Family Farm was also offering fresh, made to order pizza at one point a few summers ago.

Well worth inquiring about this year.

Beach time and PIZZA?

What could be better!

 

 

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We asked longtime friend of the blog (also, in-demand makeup artist, small business woman, mom, and wife) Jenny DiMucci to loop us in on some of her Rhody Summer faves. Find out her picks, including a local spot that will make you feel as though you’re off on a European holiday.



I am a mom of two young boys, co-owner of Twinkle & SMOOCH beauty & One Studio Smooch, and Makeup Artist & Brand Ambassador. Summer is the best time of year for us. We love anything outdoors, and near or on the water. Being on a sailboat on the Rhode Island coast now equals pure bliss and relaxation for this busy family.

Bristol

Bristol Photo by DenisTangneyJr/iStock/Getty Images

We like to have dinner at Quito's, a tiny little place, known for its delicious seafood, and sometimes we'll sit and have a cocktail at Thames Waterside and watch the sailboats, always topping it all off with ice cream from Gray's. There are lots of cute shops to pop in to or meander about while eating your ice cream.


When we are able, our most favorite quick getaway is a night's stay at the Point Pleasant Inn (photo above courtesy of their site), which feels like your own private Italian villa with gorgeous views, unbelievable service, and quaint, quiet rooms.

Beaches

Of course, we love the beach. Sand Hill Cove is the boys' favorite. Also, Narragansett Town Beach and Charlestown. We like to drive around and hit some little beachy type hot spots for a quick dinner or explore new beaches and places.

Beauty, Art & Music

At One Studio Smooch, we (my husband Michael and I) host a variety of classes and events, including everything from Children's Art Classes, Summer Camp Sessions, and Birthday Parties to Adult Art Classes and Adult Pop Up Art & Wine Nights. Click here to follow the Studio on Facebook and get the latest happenings and updates.

Photo Credits: All photos of Jenny and her family by Stacey Doyle Photography. Photo of Point Pleasant Inn courtesy of their web site. Bristol photo used with permission/licensing from Getty Images.

***This post has been updated from one that appeared on the blog previously.

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Roger Williams Statue At Prospect Terrace Park Where The Tour Kicks Off, Photo by zrfphoto/iStock/Getty Images

Yesterday Twitter was abuzz with word that Sarah Paulson would not be appearing in a major role in the next installment of Ryan Murphy’s wildly popular (Speaking of which, he actually got his start with the WB series Popular way back in 1999.) anthology series American Horror Story.

If you’re a fan of the series, or scary stories in general, or you just want to be privy to some juicy tales steeped in Rhody history of the last few centuries, then the Providence Ghost Tour is an absolute must do.

Their 2019 tour season kicked off last month (A big plus about taking the tour during the Summer is that you won’t have to get all bundled up in scarves, sweaters, and knit hats for the approximately 2 mile walk.) and we were invited to tag along on one of their 90 minute spooky strolls around the East Side.

The route itself is well lit. You will, however, want to pull out your sensible sandals (or sneakers) for this walking tour because of the uneven sidewalks and steep hills, definitely not the time to try to try to channel Stevie Nicks or Misty Day (circa AHS seasons 3 and 8…and Emma Roberts’ Madison Montgomery has gotta be inspired on some level by early aughts Lindsay Lohan, am I right?) in platforms boots or flow-y shawls. Highly recommend leaving any ethereal or period dress to their guides.

Thomas Street On Providence’s East Side; Photo by Coleong/IStock/Getty Images

The dilemma here is that I obviously don’t want to reveal all the secrets of the tour. For the record, there are many! (And to be honest, I was surprised by much of it. I mean, as someone who attended public school in Providence during the late 70’s and 80’s, I feel as though I learned next to nothing about local history and legends.)

Our guide was thoroughly engaging, well informed, and fun. Of course, both Poe and HP Lovecraft were mentioned (That’s a given, right???), but there are so many other tales that will seriously change the way you look at certain spots around the capital city.

Also, the tour is different every single time. So, if you’ve taken it before, your next experience will include stories you definitely did not hear previously.

*For more info about the Providence Ghost Tour, including how to get tickets, click here.

**Also, a big thank you to everyone at PGT for inviting us to tag along for the official kickoff of their new season.

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Photo From The East End Instagram

I think it was John Mayer who said, “ A little bit of summer is what the whole year is all about.”

Now, never thought I’d be citing JM (Remember when Tina Fey and Amy Poehler called him out during the 2013 Golden Globes? I feel like his friendship with Andy Cohen has helped in terms of minimizing his previous image as an unapologetic playboy, though. I mean, Gravity’s back on my Spotify rotation, that’s all I’m saying.), but that quote pretty much crystallizes how most of us live our lives here in the OS.

Yes, summer’s in full swing and we all know that we have a limited window to truly enjoy it.

And I can’t think of a better way to do THAT than patio drinks and dining, which brings me to last night in Providence and specifically, the back patio at The East End on Wickenden.

Last night’s Veggie Miso Ramen at THe East End on Wickenden.

Okay, no doubt that you probably already have your go-to’s for Patio Season in PVD, but you’ll want to add this place to your master list pronto.

It’s not Insta famous per se, but that makes it all the more perfect-o (You won’t have to worry about sporting the latest in sunglasses or smart phone cases.) for a few quiet afternoon cocktails, a selfie-less wine nite with your friends (I had a glass of one of their Pinot Noirs with my dinner.), or an al fresco din din with your fave ppl the next 80 degree evening in the city.

Woo-Hoo, Hooray for Patio Weather!

I’m not much of a whiskey (or bourbon…or brandy drinker for that matter), but if that’s your thing, they do have something like 300 different options from which to choose.

In addition, they have an uber (Took an Uber there last night and can we talk about the rush hour traffic in and around the city at 5pm?!?! What happpened to everyone taking the first 2 weeks of July off???) appealing menu of craft cocktails that I actually came this close to sampling.

Las night at The East End

Also, their fries are almost too good!

So, get your group together to reconnect post-4th-of-July for some eats and drinkies at The East End. You’ll wonder how exactly you’ve gotten along without it in your life these last few summers. (Yes, it’s that enjoyable!)

*The East End is located at 244 Wickenden Street in Providence.






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We talk a lot about food here on the blog, but today we’re introducing you to someone from a local non-profit that helps feed over 1200 housebound senior citizens every single day. Elderly in the OS who would otherwise go hungry without the assistance of staff and volunteers alike at Meals On Wheels RI. Get to know her and find out about this organization that’s making a difference in the daily lives of so many seniors.

I’m a born-and-bred Rhode Island’er, where I have worked in nonprofit and government for 15 years, and am proud to be known as a recognized and trusted industry leader with a proven track record of leading a mission-driven organization. I’m definitely a people person and I love connecting to learn about innovative ways to make an impact. In June, I joined Meals on Wheels of RI as their fourth executive director. I have big plans for the organization and am so excited to lead it into the future.

When I’m not driving social change, I love travelling, following current events, exercising, skiing in the winter and boating in the summer.

What’s not to love about the Ocean State—especially the food? My parents often remind me that my first trip out of the house at just three weeks old was to Twin Oaks—what better place is there to start a love of food and family? Castle Hill will forever be a special place to me, since my husband proposed on the lawn. I feel like there is so much energy right now coming out of Warren between Hope & Main and all of the great places to grab food and drink. But nothing beats a good meal at home, which makes me feel a special connection to Meals on Wheels of RI, which helps seniors get to stay in their own homes by meeting their nutritional needs.

I’m really excited about our upcoming Festival of Meals gala that will celebrate our 50 years of incredible impact on Saturday, Nov. 2 at the Pawtucket Armory Arts Center. We’ll have an exclusive VIP cocktail reception, culinary competition, tastings from dozens of RI restaurants, celebrity judges, and silent and live auctions. We’re in the process of engaging sponsors and getting the word out, and we anticipate more than 400 attendees! For more information or to reserve a ticket, go to http://www.rimeals.org/festivalofmeals.

If you cannot attend the gala, but still want to support our mission, please visit www.rimeals.org.

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