Is the third time the charm? Over the past decade, success has eluded a centrally located Narragansett restaurant site, mystifying past owners who really did try to do everything right. The first concept was the Newport Café, which gave way to Red Stripe, based on the very successful Red Stripe in Providence. Both concepts had some busy nights, mostly on weekends, but not enough to sustain business – especially during the winter months. This summer Anthony Tomaselli took over the space and opened his third T’s Restaurant, following “to a T” the recipe for success he has perfected, first in Cranston and then in East Greenwich.
Ever since T’s opened in the Salt Pond Shopping Center in June, its spacious parking lot has been filled with cars, and there’s almost always a wait for a table, with the line sometimes snaking out the front door. At all three locations, T’s is open for breakfast, brunch and lunch only, with breakfast and brunch available throughout the day.
The deep crimson of Red Stripe has given way to a much lighter nautical look, with interior walls that are literally covered with Tomaselli’s original paintings. His ghostly seascapes are especially intriguing. All the artwork is for sale, as well as the coffee mugs bearing T’s distinctive trademark. (Tomaselli is an accomplished artist with work on display in galleries throughout New England and beyond.) As for the exterior, the inviting flower-filled patio now features tables with turquoise umbrellas and turquoise and white Adirondack chairs, where we lounged on one of our visits.
The menu offers 42 breakfast/brunch items and another 26 lunch possibilities (with everything priced from $3.99 to $11.89). Some of the standouts at breakfast are the Grilled Cheese and Bacon Stuffed French Toast from the griddle, Traditional Eggs Benedict topped with three different cuts of bacon, and the Spin-wich Breakfast Sandwich on an onion bagel. T’s “Top 10” includes the Narragansett Skillet featuring housemade sweet maple sausage and apple hash topped with two eggs and hollandaise sauce. Lite Living items include a black bean patty served with one egg, fresh salsa, sour cream, chipotle pepper Tabasco sauce and fresh fruit.
On one visit, we were a gang of seven, including three teenagers. The oldest teen, home for the summer after his freshman year at Boston University, ordered the Park Avenue Platter ($9.89). He did his best to polish off the pancakes, ham and cheese omelet, bacon strips, sausage links, home fries and toast, along with three large glasses of chocolate milk. His younger brother said his chocolate chip pancakes ($6.49), topped with a butter blend and powdered sugar, were “just okay” because, in his opinion, there were too many chocolate chips. (Can there ever be “too much” chocolate?) My husband Brian loved his blueberry pancakes although he could eat only half of what was served.
I prefer savory over sweet, even at breakfast, so I ordered the Athenian Grilled Chicken Omelet ($10.29). The oversized omelet was filled with small chunks of chicken, spinach, sun-dried tomatoes, kalamata olives and feta cheese (a few of my favorite things). On the side, I chose the warm cinnamon apples over the crispy home fries. This was such a nice change from the usual accompaniment, and the sweetness of the apples played off the salty Greek ingredients beautifully.
On my next visit to T’s, I was so tempted to order this omelet again, but it being noon, I instead looked at the lunch portion of the menu. Options include a soup/salad/sandwich combo, entrée salads, burgers and sandwiches from the panini press and grill. I found so many dishes tempting – T’s take on the classic BLT starts with toasted harvest grain bread spread with creamy brie cheese and layered with bacon, fresh baby spinach and sliced tomato, and the over-the-top grilled cheese boasts creamy brie and Swiss cheese along with diced apple, sautéed onions and a touch of fig, all on extra thick grilled slices of white bread.
My dining companions that day, who are usually very careful about the food they eat, threw caution to the wind and ordered variations on a corned beef theme. Brian had the basic Corned Beef Reuben ($8.99) with lean corned beef and Swiss cheese stacked inside slices of grilled rye. On the side were plenty of golden French fries. Normand kicked that up a notch and ordered Warhol’s 15 Minutes of Fame ($9.49), a super-duper Reuben with the addition of sliced turkey and fresh cole slaw on marble rye. Many of the menu items include the names of famous artists, from Monet to Rembrandt.
My sandwich was a true work of art. I savored every bite of the Horseradish Cheese Steak Panini ($9.29) with its layers of tender shaved steak, sautéed onions, melted American cheese and a generous schmear of horseradish sauce on Texas-style toast.
We were surprised to learn that there are no desserts on the menu. We would have loved to linger over a slice of pie with coffee. It would have given me more time to admire the many works of art on each and every wall of this new restaurant. All in all, I think T’s Restaurant is finally the right concept for that prime location.