Good News from Rhode Island's Own Pro Jo - July 9th 2014 Food Issue ~

JAMESTOWN, R.I. — Twinkle lights for mood, a high-energy atmosphere, delicious food and interesting wines make for an evening of magical dining at Simpatico.

- It’s not the same place I recommended so many times for romantic dinners when it was Trattoria Simpatico. It was a great spot even then, with fine Italian food and a hidden garden that made it a favorite of many.

-Today’s Simpatico offers a special dining experience that feels more South Beach than Jamestown. It’s unlike any other place I can think of in Rhode Island. Thanks to the new spaces created by owners Amy and Ben, Simpatico has been transformed into a place of many delights.

 -Every which way you look there is a different ambiance. The impressions begin right at the reception desk where Barclay stands, greeting guests, between a pergola for outdoor dining and the deck.

Barclay, in an interview after my dinner, confirmed her dining Garden of Eden was no accident. A master gardener, she believes in outdoor spaces and their potential to create pleasing places.

“Some people want to be seen and the pergola is for them,” she said. Diners sitting on this patio are close to busy Narragansett Avenue but elevated to feel a world away. Other diners seek anonymity, mainly town locals, said Barclay. They are drawn to what she calls the “aft terrace,” where there is a raw bar and room to fade into a private spot. Those who want romance, or just a chance to chat, are seated in the “chapel” near the aft. The north deck has water-view dining of Narragansett Bay and an upscale air enjoyed by the stiletto set, said Barclay.

Just beyond the pergola, there’s the patio with an outdoor bar and two long, almost communal tables. “Rails,” Barclay calls them, made of repurposed Brazilian teak from her home. Inside is a gleaming copper bar in the chart room and an elegantly appointed dining room.

-Both inside and out, where the twinkle lights provide just the right amount of illumination, one space flows right into the next so you don’t notice the differences without a bit of study.

-I can’t really compare it to anything else in Rhode Island because the outdoor space is so one with nature, as if it’s just grown up around the beautiful beech tree and all the boxwoods and other plantings from Barclay’s home garden. She started working at Trattoria Simpatico as a busser in 1993, by the way.

-The space owes its success to the collaboration of Barclay and Brayton and required closing the restaurant when they bought it in November of 2012 until May 2013. A second phase of renovations was done during a January-February closing this year.

-When they purchased the restaurant, then general manager Cliff Dimon decided he wanted to go back into the kitchen after 12 years out of it. As executive chef, he has brought to life a menu of American fare.

-His seafood dishes were exemplary. A tuna tartare appetizer ($12.75) featured sushi grade tuna paired with a wakami seaweed salad, sprinkled with a spicy sesame vinaigrette. It sat on slices of cucumber and off to the side wonton crisps provided a bit of crunch. Other appetizers included a littlenecks and chourico bowl, mussels and the new official state appetizer, calamari.

-As busy as the Saturday night of my visit was, the kitchen sent out beautifully plated dishes perfectly timed. That is something rare in a resort area when the summer is still young. Service was exemplary with Jacqueline, who was efficient, well-informed and advised us well.

-The Atlantic Salmon ($24) dish was a thing of beauty. A beautifully moist, flaky fillet of salmon was flavored with a maple-soy glaze. It sat high on a bed of gorgeous sesame sautéed vegetables that were bright as the summer’s day.

-Shrimp Classico ($24) featured five huge pink, plump shrimp on a bed of linguine. Artichoke hearts, grape tomatoes and snow pea pods (though the menu said it would be spinach) added another level of fresh flavors and the whole bowl was dressed with a light lemon and white wine sauce.

Server Jacqueline said the Bolognese ($19) was her favorite dish. I can see why, as it was delicious. Rigatoni pasta was enrobed in a sauce rich with ground beef, veal, hot and sweet sausage. It was light rather than lavish, and for a summer night, that made it faultless.

I loved the wine list here. I enjoy white Italian wines but I can’t abide one more tasteless Pinot Grigio. I didn’t have to, as Vernaccia di San Gimignano was on the list. This Tuscan wine is perfect to pair with fish. It’s light and refreshing but has the acidity that makes it pair beautifully with food. Talking later with Barclay, she said Chef Dimon is also a sommelier and responsible for the nicely curated wine list.

Dessert’s chocolate torte was a bit of a revelation. Rarely do I find the flourless chocolate treat meets expectations, but this one did. It was creamy as could be, but not too sweet. And the strawberries and blackberries served with it made the dish sweeter.
-All through the meal, I prized my seat under the pergola that afforded me a view of the entrance. As the sun went down, the diners kept coming, bringing summer’s good cheer with them. That is a feeling I want to bottle for the whole year.

This is Great !!  Tank-A-Away  from the Boston Globe Celebrates the Treasure that is Jamestown !  Congrats to All  !~
Simpatico serves new American fare and is a popular spot for dining al fresco.

Simpatico serves new American fare and is a popular spot for dining al fresco.

What a difference a trip over the bridge can make. (Or a ferry boat ride across the bay.) Moments from touristy Newport, but worlds away from its hustle and bustle, is this quiet and quaint town on pretty Conanicut Island at the mouth of Narragansett Bay. Jamestown was once a summer haven for the East Coast wealthy, where several elegant hotels and grand summer cottages lined the beachfront. Today, it’s a delightful blend of homes and historic sites, a handful of local shops and restaurants, and acres of pristine preservation land, open spaces, and sweeping vistas. Consider bringing bicycles; the island, only 9 miles long and 1 mile wide, is a great place to pedal, with miles of dedicated cycling trails and scenic backroads.


The recently spiffed-up East Bay B&B (14 Union St., 401-423-0330,, $99-$189) is a Jamestown gem. The 1891 Victorian, within an easy walk to village shops and restaurants, has four white-glove clean rooms, with hardwood floors, quality antiques, updated private baths, and lush linens. The porch and courtyard are great places to hang out and relax, and small touches, like mini fridges in the rooms, robes, reading lights, Wi-Fi, and flat- screen TVs, will make you want to stay longer than you’ve booked. Lionel Champlin Guest House (20 Lincoln St., 401-423-7469,, $100-$195) sits in a quiet neighborhood just a few blocks from town and the Newport ferry. Guests rave about the friendly innkeepers, and the spacious, bright rooms in this three-story Victorian. The Captain’s Room is especially nice, with a queen bed, modern granite and tile bathroom, and water views. Small condo suites are available at the Wyndham Bay Voyage Inn (150 Conanicus Ave., 800-438-6493,, rates vary from around $120 to $340), a big Victorian located on the bay. This is a timeshare property so don’t expect full-service, resort-style services, but the units all have separate sitting areas and small kitchenettes, and there’s an outdoor pool and on-site restaurant.


Plenty of people are lured across the bridge just to dine at Jamestown FISH (14 Narragansett Ave., 401-423-3474,, $24-$39). Start with drinks at the upstairs Bridge Bar, with a deck overlooking the Newport Bridge and Narragansett Bay, and then head downstairs to the more elegant, blue and white dining room. Chef-owner Matthew MacCartney, voted one of People’s Best New Chefs in New England last year by Food and Wine magazine, uses ultra-fresh, local seafood and produce to craft outstanding dishes like the signature Fish Cookpot, with loads of seafood and spicy chourico, and the black squid ink linguine with Rhode Island calamari. If it’s a warm summer night, consider dining al fresco at SIMPATICO (13 Narragansett Ave., 401-423-2000,, $14-$24); the popular eatery serves new American fare, such as pan seared salmon and rigatoni Bolognese, along with a variety of grilled pizzas. Grab a seat at a picnic table nestled in the sand at the tiny Shack on Dutch Harbor (Dutch Harbor Boat Yard, 252 Narragansett Ave., 401-239-9999, The takeout joint, run by critically acclaimed chef Jake Rojas of Newport’s award-winning Tallulah on Thames, is known for crave-worthy fish tacos. For breakfast, try the memorable blueberry sourdough pancakes or Grand Marnier French toast at the light-filled Slice of Heaven bakery and cafe (32 Narragansett Ave., 401-423-9866,, $5.99-$12.99). If you happen to be on the island on Sunday night, join the locals at Village Hearth Bakery Cafe (2 Watson Ave., 401-423-9282, who line up for its popular pizza night. There are always two varieties to choose from, including the Margherita, made with seasoned tomato sauce and topped with fresh Italian bocconcini mozzarella and cheddar and lots of fresh basil. They also serve fabulous panini and sandwiches (Friday-Sunday); try the lobster roll served on a house-made butter brioche roll.


Jamestown has plenty of coastal scenery, open spaces, and sweeping vistas.

Discover Newport

Jamestown has plenty of coastal scenery, open spaces, and sweeping vistas.

Visit Beavertail State Park (Beavertail Road, 401-423-994) with sweeping coastline vistas, hiking and biking trails, and guided naturalist programs. Also at the park is the Beavertail Lighthouse Museum, where you can climb the tower ($5 suggested donation) and view exhibits. Enjoy a picnic at 61.5-acre Fort Wetherill State Park (Fort Wetherill Road, 401-423-1771,, free), perched on granite sea cliffs, with great views of Newport Harbor and the East Passage of Narragansett Bay. You’re welcome to roam the 265-acre, seaside Watson Farm (455 North Road, 401-423-0005,, open Tue, Thu, Sun, $4 adults, $2 students); founded in 1796, the working farm is known for its grass-fed beef and lamb and woolen blankets, and features miles of trails through open pastures and along the coast. History buffs will enjoy Conanicut Battery National Historic Park (Battery Lane, 401-423-7000, free), with fortifications dating to the Revolutionary War. Hot day? Head to pretty Mackerel Cove Beach ($15 parking) for a swim.


The award-winning Narragansett Cafe (25 Narragansett Ave., 401-423-2150,, no cover charge) features live music every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights. Rhode Island Monthly magazine has awarded this island haunt, known locally as the Ganny, its honors as Best Blues Hangout and Best Place for Live Music. In winter, the Sunday Blues, Bloodies and Brunch draws a loyal crowd. In summer, it shifts to Swizzle Sundays from 4-7 p.m.

For more information, visit

Diane Bair and Pamela Wright can be reached at