Recent reviews by The Day's food critics
3 Canal St., Westerly
Find their website at thecaferi.com and search their name to find them on social media.
The motto at The Café is “Where stars are treated like locals & locals are treated like stars,” and that’s pretty much the drill at this establishment that is a partnership with the next-door United Theatre in downtown Westerly.
“The Café is a concept born of our family’s belief that a community is stronger when it gathers to celebrate, discuss ideas, relax, and enjoy,” reads the website. The steady crowds streaming in are evidence that the people have embraced the idea, as well as the expansive bar, comfortable dining room, and seats looking out on Canal Street.
You can go for a bread or cheese board or for lunch or dinner. They serve a bowl of pickles, deviled eggs, and frites with garlic aioli. For lunch, you may want to try the tomato soup, or a corned beef Reuben, or maybe the chicken Waldorf salad. It’s all very good.
One of our favorite servings is the crispy fried artichokes for $13. We have also enjoyed the oysters Morgan, $16. For dinner, a must-have is the miso-marinated local cod that has a butter crumb crust and is priced at $28. Also, we would suggest the bacon-wrapped meatloaf for $25, a hearty dinner that is served with fingerling potatoes and toasted bread from Nana’s, another great eatery that is just behind The Café.
We have yet to be disappointed at The Café, whether it’s for lunch, dinner, or a stop at the bar.
— Ann Baldelli
Niantic Boardwalk Pizzeria
211 Main St, Niantic
Niantic Boardwalk Pizzeria closed out my long stretch of non-pizza-shop reviews. I chose wisely and enjoyed several tasty dishes at this shop in the adorable downtown Niantic area with a fabulous view of Niantic Bay.
Of course, we had to sample the pizza, and I like to get a baseline sense of what’s going on in the ovens with a basic cheese pie. At NBP, slices are available with various toppings, but I went with a plain cheese — a sizeable triangle served hot and crisp with a perfect New Haven style crust.
There are literally dozens of pizzas available at NPB, so I’ve made a list of what we’re going to try next after first ordering the Buffalo Chicken pizza ($14 small/$19 large). If you love the tangy zip of Buffalo sauce and tender sliced chicken with a generous dash of mozzarella, you’ll enjoy this pie. We sure did and will fight the urge to order it again, because we’ve got the Philly cheesesteak pizza ($16 for a small; $20 for a large) and the Penne Alla Vodka gourmet pizza ($19) on the to-try-next list.
Pies aside, we enjoyed the Chopped Pasta Salad ($10 for a very big salad) and Tortellini en Brodo soup ($6 for a bowl) very much, but the best was yet to come at dessert time. NBP offers a few desserts, and the house-made cannoli are a must-try. They’re $3 apiece and worth every calorie. Grab a few, find a bench, and stare out at the bay, while you ponder the many wonderful eateries in this place we call home.
— Marisa Nadolny
Captain Daniel Packer Inne
32 Water St., Mystic
(860) 536-3555, www.danielpacker.com
If the Captain Daniel Packer Inne cancelled their menu tomorrow and decided to serve only shark chum henceforth, I'd still go there. The restaurant, in its colonial authenticity as a former sea captain's establishment dating back to the days of whaling glory, was one of the first spots my wife and I visited when we moved to the area a quarter-century ago. It fairly screamed, "THIS IS QUINTESSENTIAL NEW ENGLAND, YOU TEXAS-BORN GOOFBALLS WITH YOUR SCHOOL BOOK DEPOSITORY ARCHITECTURE!"
Over the years, the food, service and ambience continue to impress. And while a recent experience there — our first post-COVID visit to the restaurant — had a few spots of inconsistency, we remain charmed. Among the dishes I'd recommend from that night are the DPI tenderloin schnitzel sandwich ($17), with its expansive and tender, crispy battered meat, oozing melted cheese and a potato bun, and the Sirloin Blackjack ($38), another healthy cut of medium rare beef with pressed peppercorns and a mushroom whiskey sauce atop velvety garlic mashed potatoes.
— Rick Koster