After the brutal winter we just had, an island getaway for some fun and sun would be nice. Until then, a little slice of the Caribbean just opened its doors on Main Street in Warren, in the two-story space formerly known as India. Aruba Steve’s, which has operated in downtown Providence for the last few years, is bringing the party to the East Bay with their second tropical-themed location.
Owner Steven Correa has a native’s perspective. He grew up in Curacao, the son of a mother from America and a father from the Netherlands Antilles. After college, he worked in Aruba with his family in the restaurant business. One day, he crossed paths with a “lovely tourist” from New England, and eventually the Caribbean winds swept them up to New England in wedded bliss.
As you enter the second level of the building from Main Street, the island palette of blues, oranges and greens momentarily whisk you away from historic New England. TV monitors circle the lounge and bar area, making it a good place to catch unobstructed views of the big game. A large private event room is nearby, on this night occupied by Paint Nite revelers – a monthly, two-hour arts and crafts session where participants can create cocktail-infused masterpieces.
Cocktails are front and center, as any island hopper knows, and our cheery waitress let us know that all are available in $14 fish bowls. We went for the regular-sized Island Sangria ($7.50) made with passion fruit, and Jessalyn’s Lemonade ($8) made with Smirnoff Citrus Vodka, Pimm’s Blackberry and Elderflower, and green chartreuse. The latter was heavy on the soda water and light on the grapefruit juice. On her recommendation, we swapped out the Lemonade for a delicious Honey Vodka Mojito ($8.50) made with Spring44 Honey Vodka.
We had scoped out the menu online in advance, and it teased us with a bountiful trailer of Baby Back Ribs, Fajitas, Chimichurri Hanger Steak and Paella. The menu we were presented was much slimmer, with a half dozen or so pizzas and a couple of entrees; we later found out that the upstairs bar menu is different from the downstairs restaurant version.
We started with the Chicken Satay ($5) – five skewers of chicken breast marinated and grilled over an open flame, then basted with peanut sauce. Additional appetizer options on the bar menu included Nachos and Mussels, which we would have tackled had we not picked sizable entrees.
There is an assortment of creative pizzas on the bar menu, including Pulled Pork, Cheeseburger and Shrimp Scampi. We went with Jambalaya ($13.95), which was topped with shrimp, chicken, spicy chorizo sausage, tomato sauce and mozzarella. It was a great combination that I’ve never seen anywhere else, and it was just as good as leftovers the next day. We also tried the Pulled Pork Sliders ($10.95), one of Aruba Steve’s signature dishes. Three sliders were filled with slow-cooked pulled pork smothered in house-smoked sauce, then topped with Island Slaw and accompanied by hand-cut French fries on the side – it was a hearty plate of bar food.
The last piece of the island puzzle is music, and Aruba Steve’s has it live on a regular basis. The large outdoor patio below Main Street appears to have a stage, so it will be interesting to see what open-air events the summer brings. With some steel drums, a frozen drink and the sound of “Bon Bini,” it might just feel like Aruba.
520 Main Street Warren