Sean Napolitano can tell you: to succeed, you must do your due diligence. So before he opened Liberty Donuts, Napolitano conducted “donut research” by sampling bakeries throughout New England and the Mid-Atlantic. “I go on vacation every year to Ocean City, Maryland, and there are donut shops down there all over the place,” he explains. “I couldn’t get enough of them.”
So when he returned to his native Newport, Napolitano saw an opportunity, especially after a popular pastry cafe shut its doors.
Liberty Donuts opened late last summer, an ideal time as tens of thousands of cruise ship passengers pass through the Perrotti Park docks, a stone’s throw from the donut shop’s Long Wharf Mall location. (Traffic continues through the fall, thanks to the Providence/Newport and Block Island ferries.) Since that time, Liberty Donuts has established a robust menu with upwards of a dozen varieties, many of which are named after iconic Newport landmarks. The Marble House, for example, is named for one of the legendary Newport Mansions; the handmade dough is subtly spiced, quickly fried, and topped with vanilla glaze and Oreo cookie crumbles. The eponymous Liberty Donut features the same vanilla glaze with red and blue sprinkles.
What truly separates Liberty Donuts from other specialty donut shops is their made-to-order service, ensuring that donuts are served hot and fresh. And while Napolitano has a steady stream of regulars, he says social media and an enviable Yelp rating have driven substantial business. “We have donut groupies,” he says with a laugh. You might even call them “dough nuts.”