Rhode Island Monthly is your guide to all there is to eat, see and do in the Ocean State. Topics of conversation include Rhode Island restaurants, Food to eat, places to visit to try different cuisine of food,etc.
We’re lucky to live in a state that’s always bursting with new initiatives, grassroots projects and community-based leaders. But we’re also lucky that certain things never change: Aunt Carrie’s chowder and clam cakes, WaterFire and the Mounted Command within the Providence Police Department. You may have seen police officers on horseback downtown at concerts, in the community at local schools, or interacting with the public during parades. You may have also noticed how large the horses are that make it into the Mounted Command. The preferred horse is a Clydesdale — the same ones you see in the Budweiser commercials — and for good reason. “Draft horses have gentle dispositions and a friendly temperament,” says Sergeant Steven Edward Courville. “They are highly intelligent and are eager to work alongside our officers.”
Photograph by Grace Lentini.
Officers in the Mounted Command must have a certain temperament, too. They have to be able to work well with members of the public, complete a minimum of three years in the Providence Police Department’s Patrol Bureau and, of course, have an ability to work with the horses. The combination makes for an approachable duo.
Both the officers and the horses serve as ambassadors for the city of Providence. With the combined stately presence of an officer on horseback and the high visibility while on patrol, the Providence Police Department Mounted Command has turned out to be one of the most successful community relations programs in the city. According to Sergeant Courville, people are naturally drawn to the Clydesdale, often smiling and waving to both officers and horses on post.
Draft horses like the Clydesdale have served alongside humans for thousands of years. Historically, draft horses were bred to carry armored knights into battle. Because of their conformation and heavy bone structure, they are ideally suited for carrying a large police officer under saddle onto the city streets.
But, really, the most important question about the Providence Mounted Command: Can the public pet the horses? The answer is a resounding yes. “Of course! We welcome the opportunity to have people engage with our officers and our horses,” says Sergeant Courville. “Our goal is to establish positive interactions between the Providence Police Department and members of the public.”
Visit the horses (and their officers) at their stables by appointment Monday through Friday. 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence, 243-6042, providenceri.gov
My favorite type of workout is the sixty-minute, fast-paced, get-your-blood-pumping kind. The type of class where you break a sweat within five minutes and a bottle of water is not nearly enough to quench your thirst.
As Rhode Island Monthly’s editor on all things health and wellness, it’s easy to say that I’ve done a lot of meditation sessions and have taken more yoga classes than I can count. And while I typically prefer something more active over a slower-paced session, yoga in the garden at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretumis exactly what I needed on a Friday morning.
Life gets busy. Schedules become hectic. I was already feeling the effects of the summertime hustle being here, there and everywhere all at the same time. So, when I arrived at Blithewold on a mid-Friday morning, I was relieved to see a group of about fifteen women (in their mid-twenties to their eighties, if I had to guess), mats sprawled out on the grass beneath a canopy of trees near the gardens. I felt the morning dew on the ground as I slipped off my sneakers and socks, positioned my mat to face the beautiful views of Narragansett Bay and began poses while following Janet Johnson, yoga teacher at Bristol Yoga Studio.
Towards the end of class I laid on my mat and closed my eyes for just a moment. I could feel a warm summer breeze gently sweep across my face while the sound and smell of freshly cut grass filled the air. I opened my eyes as the sunlight began streaming through the trees offering a morning glow against the pale blue sky.
It was in this moment that I was brought back to the early days of my childhood, when I would spend hours outside on the hammock or laying in the grass, carefree, without any stress or cares in the world. And as quickly as that ‘this must be what Heaven is like’ moment passed, I was grateful for the hour-long yoga session on the serene grounds of Blithewold – Even for just a short part of my day I was forced to slow down, take a breather and calm my mind.
If that isn’t good for the soul, then I don’t know what is.
Yoga in the Garden begins at 9:30 a.m. every Friday morning through September at Blithewold Mansion, Gardens and Arboretum. This is a bring-your-own mat class and costs $10 for members and $15 for non-members. Check the Bristol Yoga Studio website beforehand for weather updates. In the event of bad weather, the class will be held at their studio. Click hereto register.
It’s suppertime, two days before Easter, and the Sportsbook, a two-level lounge on the second floor of Twin River Casino in Lincoln, is slowly filling. A ragged line of men bend over their sheets or scan the odds displayed on monitors as they inch to the tills. The walls flash with color and movement from 103 flat screens wrapping the room, like the facets of a fly’s compound eye. At least twenty professional athletic contests are being waged in hockey, basketball and baseball, and everybody hopes it will be a good Friday.
In the back corner by the self-serve betting kiosks, Bob K. sinks an air basket and grins. “I’m betting three dogs tonight!”
He decides he doesn’t like the lines (the odds) on the Pacers-Celtics matchup, so he switches to major league baseball, placing four flat (even money) bets and one parlay (two or more bets rolled into one) on underdogs. Three or four times a week, Bob and his sports betting buddies form a team against the house, benched on a Sportsbook couch or trading tips virtually in a group text.
Illustration by Ileana Soon.
“I like that they made it legal,” he says. “It makes it easier to walk up to a window and place a wager and go over to collect it. If I’m betting offshore, sometimes it will take up to three weeks to get your money. And it’s a nice place to hang around. I’ve met a lot of people I wouldn’t have met from all different walks of life.”
Bob placed his first $2 bet when he was fourteen years old on a longshot named Miles Love at the old Lincoln Downs. He won $52.80 — twenty-five to one — “and it’s been all downhill ever since,” he says with a laugh.
Rhode Island’s first foray into sports betting has not paid off nearly as handsomely. At the five-month mark, the state had garnered a tiny fraction of the projected revenue. From November to March, sports bettors wagered $77 million and won $75.2 million, leaving the hold at $1.85 million and the state’s share at roughly $943,000.
Ten months before Twin River opened its sports betting bars at its Lincoln and Tiverton locations, Governor Gina Raimondo wagered that legalizing sports betting would raise $23.5 million in new state revenue in its first year. The estimate was based on an American Gaming Association (AGA) revenue model that assumed a 15 percent state gross gaming tax rate, a mobile platform and a mature marketplace, three to five years old, says Sara Slane, the AGA’s senior vice president of public affairs.
A late start deep into football season forced officials to slice its estimate to $11.5 million. The combination of New England champion teams and hometown bettors was another loser for the state. The Patriots’ Super Bowl win over the Los Angeles Rams, thirteen to three, pushed the hold $890,623 into the red. In May, the state Department of Revenue presented newer revenue projections: $2.6 million by the end of June.
“With each month that passes, we are learning about where people are placing wagers,” says Gerald S. Aubin, director of the Rhode Island Lottery. “When the Office of Budget and Management came up with the forecast, it was reasonable money. We have not quite made that number. But we don’t focus on just one line-item. Our menu of games is extensive; sports betting is just one. Hopefully, we will aggressively expand our other lines so our overall budget projections can be met for the end of the fiscal year.”
In May 2018, the United States Supreme Court struck down the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA). The 1992 law barred states from permitting sports betting if they had not already legalized it. Oregon, Delaware, Montana — which had offered limited sports lottery games — and Nevada, where widespread sports betting was legal, were grandfathered in. The Supreme Court ruled, six to three, that the ban violated the tenth amendment, which addresses state sovereignty. The case pitted New Jersey, which had passed legislation in 2012 allowing sports betting, against the National Collegiate Athletic Association and the four major professional sports leagues, which argued that the law violated PASPA.
The social prohibition against sports betting has deep roots. In 1919, eight members of the Chicago White Sox were accused of taking a payoff from an illegal gambling syndicate to lose the World Series to the Cincinnati Reds. The Black Sox scandal led to the creation of a Commissioner of Baseball. And despite being acquitted, the defendants were given lifetime bans from the game or any post-career honors.
By 1989, the illegal sports handle had risen to an estimated $29.5 billion, along with concerns about organized crime, match-fixing and the numbers of compulsive gamblers, particularly teenagers. New Jersey Senator and former NBA star Bill Bradley argued that sports betting debased the game. Even after PASPA passed, worries about gambling’s assault on the integrity of collegiate sports continued. Senator John McCain opened a 2000 United States Senate hearing on a bill to prohibit betting on college sports noting point-shaving schemes, gambling among college referees, the “epidemic” of campus gambling and money laundering.
“When you think of the sheer volume of betting, the point-shaving scandals and bribery — it’s really small,” says Becky Harris, former Nevada Gaming Control Board chairwoman and an academic fellow at the University of Nevada Las Vegas’ International Center for Gaming Regulation. “At least the ones we hear about all happened in the illegal market. The books are watching what’s happening to the lines, and reporting suspicious activities to the appropriate law enforcement authority.”
Lawyer Zach Schreiber, a former sports agent and author of a law review article urging the United States to use the United Kingdom’s regulatory scheme as a model, says legal sports betting is good for sports.
“I do not believe the players consider sports betting at all. The players I have represented don’t know the lines and don’t care about the lines. They are trying to win,” he says. “On the business side, sports betting increases a team’s exposure to the public. The leagues are going to gain higher viewership in these very long mid- to late-season games, and that’s good for the higher ad revenue, higher viewership and social engagement.”
States on an aggressive hunt for revenue also saw opportunities for growth and moved swiftly to enact laws. By April, eight states were open for business. Rhode Island passed its legislation in June 2018, with the revenue split three ways: the state would collect 51 percent; International Game Technology, which provides the state with slot machines and other gambling technologies, and William Hill, which sets the lines, split 32 percent. Twin River, which hosts the operation, gets 17 percent.
The rollout was bumpy. The self-serve kiosks were not yet online, and the overwhelming demand during the Super Bowl meant gamblers waited up to two hours in line, missing their window to place a wager. Twin River originally separated the bettors from the employees taking the bets with security glass, but they couldn’t hear the customers or understand them.
“A customer would say, ‘I want to drop a dime on TB12.’ The correct way to announce that wager was $10,000 on Tom Brady — the Patriots to win,” says Twin River Vice President and General Manager Craig Sculos.
In the first four months, Twin River was still scoping out the bettors (a younger demo) and their preferences (finger foods) to adjust their settings. “It’s hard to quantify, but we are seeing an increase in foot traffic,” he says. “It’s colorful and it’s vibrant. We refer to it as the ultimate tailgate party inside.”
But if the state wants to make its nut, it may take more than snappy slogans.
The AGA’s Slane says the house margins on sports wagering are thin; 95 percent goes back to the bettor. Las Vegas, which has offered sports betting since 1975, recoups 5 percent of the handle. And to get there, you need to win consumers away from the illegal offshore betting websites with a mobile platform and a reasonable revenue-sharing scheme. Rhode Island’s 51 percent gross gaming tax rate is the highest in the nation. The General Assembly sanctioned mobile betting in March, and state lottery officials expect it to be operational in time for football season.
The legal sports books “have to pay taxes, they have to pay for marketing and advertising. The legally regulated operator has a challenge to compete with the illegal operator, who can offer better odds because they don’t pay the same overhead,” Slane says. “But it’s still extremely early. This is a whole new frontier for this country, and no one state is going to pull the stick and the floodgates open and the revenue is pouring in the door. It takes time.”
The underdogs delivered for Bob K. on Good Friday. He happily pocketed $560 in winnings. But his loyalty to Twin River has yet to be tested. He expects mobile betting to cut down his visits, and if and when sports betting comes to Massachusetts, he’ll check out the scene at Plainridge Park Casino, just twenty minutes from his home. His group is sore that sports bettors aren’t offered the same complimentary perks as Twin River’s other gamblers.
“I don’t think it’s fair to the sports bettor. It’s a sticking point. We all complain about it,” he says.
The threats are also coming from within: A GOP lawsuit filed in May challenges the constitutionality of the law because voters did not approve this expansion of gambling. The state better hope that luck is a lady.
Skip the beach traffic and head to the docks. The Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s Providence to Newport ferrynow includes weekend service to Bristol. This additional service stop, which is new this summer, runs through Labor Day Weekend and allows locals and tourists alike to check out the East Bay while avoiding the frustration of summer traffic (and parking!). To explore the full ferry schedule, click here.
Once you step off the ferry in Bristol at the State Street Pier, spend a day exploring the seaside town. See history come alive atLinden Place Mansion, take a walk or ride your bike at Colt State Parkand grab a bite to eat at the Beehive Cafe. The dock is a short walk away from Hope Street which is bustling with other restaurants, quaint stores and more.
The ferry also accommodates riders from Newport and beyond who are looking to spend a night at WaterFire. You can stay in the capital city until about 10:30 p.m. and will return to Bristol and then Newport as the final stop around midnight.
“Aside from the ferry that transports people from Jamestown to Newport and the ferries that go to Block Island, there are no ferries in Narragansett Bay itself,” says Charles St. Martin, chief of public affairs at the RIDOT. “Our director feels very strongly that it is one of the state’s greatest natural resources. Water transportation is common in other parts of the country in bays such as ours. Many folks also can’t get out on the water as they don’t have their own boat, so this service provides opportunities to get out there.”
According to St. Martin, the ferry service uses funding from federal grants for congestion mitigation like air quality improvements. Cars are taken off the road which reduces the congestion, parking, other traffic issues and more. Tickets cost $11 each way per adult and $5.50 each way for children ages three through twelve, seniors and people with disabilities. Infants ages two and younger are free. Plus, bikes and pets are allowed on board for no additional charge. Click hereto purchase a ticket. Tickets are also available at the Providence ferry terminal at 25 India St., at the Bristol Maritime Center on 127 Thames St. and in Newport at the ferry terminal in Perrotti Park. However, advanced reservations are recommended. For additional information, visit ridethebayri.com.
When women work together, the outcome is more often than not something wonderful, and SIREN Cooperative’s upcoming book release is evidence of this. The book, Words, Women, and the Water: Inspiring Recipes and Stories from the Ocean State, is the product of a community effort to compile empowering and inspiring stories from Rhode Island women across the state.
On the morning of July 20, join the cooperative for tea, pastries, networking and book readings. Tickets are $15 for members and $20 for non-members. The book will be on sale as well, and all profits from the book and the event will benefit SIREN’s Ready to Work Exchange Program, mentoring women in job-interview skills. RSVP here by July 15.
SIREN Women’s Cooperative puts a spin on the traditional mythical understanding of the sirens. For these women, as they explain on their website, “our name is a nod to the ocean and related mythical stories about powerful female characters, mermaids and sirens, who have piqued our imagination and inspiration.” First and foremost, however, the name SIREN speaks towards the way in which they are alerting the world to the importance of women, and the value of exploring female professional and personal lives. From monthly talks by professional women to social gatherings and networking opportunities, SIREN is constantly working towards their mission “to work mindfully, connect meaningfully, and inspire endlessly.”
The upcoming book is part of the last aspect of their mission, to inspire. While members of the cooperative benefit from events, meetings, social gatherings and speakers, Words, Women, and the Water: Inspiring Recipes and Stories from the Ocean State serves to bring the benefit of the group to the general public. Coming July 20, everyone, regardless of membership, will be able to experience some of the inspiration that this group set out to generate in the world.
“Photography with emotion marketing/pr for all nouns”
How can a person set their account apart from others?
Don’t be afraid to hire a professional (bloggers have been doing this for years)! If you’re unsure about the quality of your work, consider having someone capture the content you’ve created.
What is most important when posting to Instagram?
I think it’s important to plan the post ahead of time… selecting a quality photo, creating an interesting caption and researching the appropriate geotag and hashtags that apply to the photo. Hashtags are an important part of the equation because, when used correctly, they are a way to be discovered by a new audience.
Kayla Mandeville, @K__Elizabeth
“Awkward millennial macgyvering my way thru marriage, motherhood and life with a camera in hand”
How can a person set their account apart from others?
Creatively approach the shot in a way that hasn’t been done before, rather than just recreating something you’ve already seen. You must be willing to put in the work to create standout content, whether that’s shooting a sunrise on a frigid winter morning or staying up until all hours of the night to shoot the Milky Way.
What is the best way to gain more followers?
Engagement. Interacting with your followers through likes and comments and responding to messages. It is also important to engage with similar accounts. It’s social media; you have to be social.
“Life of photographer and productivity coach @brittanny.taylor, co-founder @thebrandingedit”
What is most important when posting to Instagram?
Ask yourself three questions.
1.) Is this interesting? 2.) Does this look good? 3.) Does this align with my brand message? If you can’t answer yes to all three, take a pass on posting.
How can a person set their account apart from others?
Instead of focusing on photography, make sure your captions are delivering value to your audience. A great caption is going to keep them interested and sticking around for more.
Jay Davani, @instameetpvd
“@theyjaydavani is the founder of @instameetpvd, Providence’s first instagram meet-up group and owner of @mintonbroadway branding + design”
What is most important when posting to Instagram?
Repeat after me: I. will. use. only. one. filter. A unique cohesive look and feel to your feed combined with sincere and honest captions are the most important foundations of your account. Choose a color theme and stick to it!
Why is it important to have a unified look and feel?
You wouldn’t wear an outfit that doesn’t match or submit a resume/cover letter with different fonts and paper, would you? It helps you stand out in a sea of images for your followers but also provides an overall aesthetic that is unique to you.
From left to right: Jumbo polka dot beach ball, $3.99, Ocean State Job Lot, locations throughout Rhode Island. Hula hoops, $5.99 each, Remy’s Cycle and Ray Willis Toys. Flamingo pool float, $24.99; blue and orange pool noodles, $2.69 each; and ring toss game, $29.99, all from Ocean State Job Lot. Five-barrel hydro drench blaster, $14.99, Pow Science. Splash ‘n’ Fun inflatable pool toss game, $5, Ocean State Job Lot.
Photography by Angel Tucker
From left to right: Prokadima paddle game, $9.99, Remy’s Cycle and Ray Willis Toys, Westerly. Vintage Slip ’n Slide, $15.99; Camo chameleon bean bag toss, $25.99, both from Pow Science, Wakefield. Bocce set, $14.99, Remy’s Cycle and Ray Willis Toys. Horseshoe set, $39.99, URE Outfitters, Hope Valley. Rainbow kite, $18.99, Remy’s Cycle and Ray Willis Toys. Beamo thirty-inch flying disc, $20.99; Night Ball light up soccer ball, $21.99, both from Pow Science. Blue butterfly net, $4.99, URE Outfitters. Stomp rocket, $22.99, Pow Science.
The chicken parm at Camille’s. Photo by Angel Tucker.
Today, Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza, the Providence Warwick Convention and Visitors Bureau and the Federal Hill Commerce Association joined together in the newly renovated and picturesque St. John’s Park to kick-off Providence Restaurant Weeks 2019. The two-week-long culinary event began on July 7, and will continue through July 20, giving residents and visitors alike ample time to sample new restaurants across the city and state.
“We have ninety restaurants participating throughout the entire city,” says Mayor Elorza. “What I love so much about this is that although you think of restaurants as businesses, and typically businesses are in competition with each other, we know that one plus one equals eleven when you’re working together. And through coming together for Providence Restaurant Week, we’re encouraging more people to come into the city; we’re expanding the pie in a way that everyone wins.”
Diners participating in Providence Restaurant Weeks can experience special prix fixe three-course meals (both lunches and dinners), in addition to other menu options, at the ninety participating venues throughout the state. The three-course lunches start at $16.95, and the three-course dinners are $29.95, $34.95 or $49.95.
The mayor reminds the public that Federal Hill has always been a huge part of the city’s restaurant culture and its culinary offerings are more diverse than ever. Rhode Island Monthly‘s April issue was devoted to covering Federal Hill’s many dining options and local markets, as well as its history. Read The Ultimate Guide to Federal Hill.
“It’s a place that preserves its culture, but also is welcoming and accepting of other cultures. When I was growing up, Federal Hill was known as the place to go for Italian food,” Elorza says. “And it still is known as that place but today it is also known as the place to go for great Asian food, or Mexican food, or so many more other foods from throughout the world. Part of what makes Providence’s reputation as the creative capital is making sure that we have that right culinary mix of world-renowned cuisine all located right here.”
“We can celebrate our culture and celebrate our diversity, and we can do it while dining together and breaking bread,” Elorza says. “That’s what this is all about.”
Fresh tomato pie from Frank Pepe’s Pizzeria Napoletana.
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie… That’s right, folks, Pepe’s classic fresh tomato pie is back for the summer season. Since 1925, Frank Pepe and his family have been replicating their delicious coal-fired pies to perfection, and today have eleven locations across New England, including New Haven, Fairfield, Danbury, Waterbury, Mohegan Sun, Manchester, West Hartford, Yonkers, Chestnut Hill, Burlington and Warwick.
When Frank Pepe began creating his mini-masterpieces, he realized that only coal burns hot and dry and doesn’t give off steam like a wood fire, allowing the crust on Pepe’s pizza to have the perfect combination of crunch, char and chew. The rest of the pizza incorporates native tomatoes, mozzarella, garlic, basil, grated cheese and imported olive oil.
The classic-style pizza pie will be available from July 1 to September, so make sure to visit one of their eleven locations before the leaves start to change. Learn more about Frank Pepe’s world famous pizza here.
If there is one tell-tale sign that summer is in full swing, it has got to be the cartons of ripe and juicy blueberries on roadside stands. Now that the season has officially begun, you can pick-your-own blueberries right from the field and incorporate them into pies, cobblers, muffins and more. Or, if you’re anything like us, pop ‘em in to your mouth straight from the blueberry bush.
Dame Farm and Orchards in Johnston is the work of seven generations of Dames and offers several types of produce for the picking. Their blueberry season will begin on Wednesday, July 10. There is a $15 bucket minimum for blueberry picking.
Hours: Mon.–Fri., 8:30 a.m.–6 p.m.; Sat., 9 a.m.–4 p.m. Call the farm for updates on availability before you go.
Pick-your-own blueberries at Rocky Point Farm opened on July 8 this year, so get there while they last! At a palatable price of $2.85 per pound, you’ll be back for more freshly grown berries throughout the whole season. Check the website for directions on how to pick the blueberries or find recipes on how to incorporate them in to delicious dishes.
Hours: Daily, 7 a.m.–noon; Thurs. nights, 4–8 p.m. Check the Facebook page for updates.
Smith’s Berry Farm’s blueberry picking season begins on Wednesday, July 10. Head over to the Washington County farm for blueberries that may grow up to the size of a quarter. Fuel up on your pickings and walk over to the farm’s paintball field for some post-pick-your-own, paintball competition.
Hours: Daily, 8 a.m.–1 p.m., but check the Facebook page for additional updates before you go.
Sweet Berry Farm will open for pick-your-own blueberries in mid-July. However, cartons of pre-picked blueberries are for sale at their farm stand (along with a myriad of other goodies) for those who simply can’t wait. If you prefer to pick, savor breakfast or lunch before or after you comb through the blueberry bushes at the farm’s cafe.
Hours: Daily, 8 a.m.–7 p.m. Call the farm for updates on an exact date for opening day.
Barden Family Orchard will be opening on July 27 for the season, but the blueberries will not be ready for picking until the first week of August. Don’t fret, however: their sister location, Harmony Farms, is already open for pick-your-own and is also conveniently located in North Scituate.
Hours: Mon.–Fri., 9 a.m.– 6 p.m.; Sat.–Sun., 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Call the farm for updates on an exact opening day.
Harmony Farms has a delicious deal for berry lovers alike. Once you have picked ten pounds of berries from their fields, you qualify for their loyalty program. The price to pick blueberries is $3.50 per pound as a loyalty picker and $3.75 per pound for non-loyalty pickers.
This northern Rhode Island family run farm is hoping to open its doors to pickers the weekend of July 13 and 14 depending on weather. Be sure to call the farm ahead of time to guarantee that the fields will be open for picking.