I recently asked a colleague of mine why people don’t go to a certain restaurant anymore, and she replied, “Everybody has moved over to The Trap.” The Trap Brew Pub and Grill, taking over the spot previously occupied by Parkside Bar and Grill, opened in 2014. It’s owned by the Martucci Group, whose flagship restaurant, Chianti’s, is located in the same building.
Walking into the restaurant, my mother and I both immediately fell in love with the ambiance. It had a rustic lodge feel to it, and although it was casual, it felt upscale at the same time. There was a large bar in the center of the room with plenty of seating, and dozens of high top tables surrounded the bar. No matter where you sat in the restaurant, you had a view of one or more big screen televisions making it a great place to watch New England sports. My friend wasn’t kidding about this being the new “it” spot. Even for lunch, the restaurant was jam-packed – every seat at the bar was taken, and there was a wait to get a table.
The drink menu had a dozen or so beers on tap, so I ordered the only Rhode Island beer on the list – Grey Sail Flying Jenny ($5), and my mother had a glass of Ecco Domani Pinot Grigio ($7). With our drinks, we ordered the Beer Pretzels ($7.99) for an appetizer. The soft baked Bavarian style pretzel sticks were served piping hot from the oven. On their own they were good, but with the addition of golden ale and braised short rib cheese fondue, they were amazing. My mother and I fought over every last drop of the sauce.
The Trap’s menu is a bit of a dichotomy. Three quarters of the menu focuses on upscale pub food with a twist. The other quarter of the menu contains classic Italian fare and dinner items from Chianti’s. After perusing the menu, it didn’t take me long to zero in on a sandwich from the “Grilled Cheese Traps” section. I ordered the Short Rib ($8.49) and was rewarded with a massive panini-style sandwich. The housemade foccaccia bread was sliced thick and proved to be sturdy enough to stand up to the short rib, fontina and caramelized onions oozing from it. Everything on the sandwich was good, and I marveled at how much of the tender, flavorful and not-at-all-fatty short rib there was. If all of those toppings weren’t enough, they also smeared on a horseradish aioli, which added balance to all of the other rich ingredients. I’m not a light eater, but even I couldn’t finish this beast of a sandwich.
Alongside the sandwiches, you get a choice of French fries, salad, seasoned dirty chips or cole slaw. I had seen the dirty chips on the appetizer menu and would have ordered them, but knowing I could get them as a side dish, I held off. The chips were as good as I had hoped. What made them dirty was the addition of plenty of garlic and Parmesan.
My mother ordered the Baked Cod ($9.99) from the Chianti’s section of the menu. At lunchtime, many of the Chianti’s items are discounted and supposedly served in a smaller portion size. The cod portion was so large that I can’t really imagine how big the dinner portion would be. My mother said the cod was very fresh, and she really enjoyed the lemon butter sauce and baked cracker crumb topping. She had a choice of potato and vegetables or pasta with her fish and chose the potato and vegetables. On this day, it was baked au gratin potatoes, and they were very cheesy. The vegetables were thinly sliced mixed vegetables, and she said they were tasty.
For dessert we decided Fried Cheesecake ($8) sounded too good to pass up. The cheesecake was wrapped in an egg roll style wrapper and fried. As the waitress said, “Cheesecake is always good, but frying it just makes it even better.” We were stuffed at this point but managed to finish just about all of it.
The Trap has a lot of nice touches that were surprising and greatly appreciated. There is free WiFi and USB charging stations available both at the bar and under the bench seats at the tables. They have a beautiful patio area, and as we were leaving on a fairly warm winter day, we sat outside by the fire pit for a while just enjoying the weather. It was nice enough that if we weren’t completely stuffed, we could have enjoyed a drink there.
The Trap is nearly two years old, but it was brand new to me. In the restaurant, there is a wall covered in quotes. The one that stood out to me said, “Never grow up. It’s a trap.” This whole experience was a good reminder of why we all need to seek out new restaurants. The Trap is slightly off the beaten path (meaning it’s not on Post Road) but definitely worth finding. Coincidentally, the Trap’s parking lot is where I used to park my Del’s Lemonade truck when I was a teenager. I wish the Trap had been there back then because the pub food would have hit the spot on a hot day with my frozen lemonade.
The Trap Brew Pub and Grill
195 Old Forge Road, East Greenwich