Every town needs to have at least one good neighborhood restaurant. A place that is convenient, comfortable for everyone and offers good food at a reasonable price. When you live out in the woods of Exeter or West Greenwich, the neighborhood restaurant becomes even more of a priority – driving to a neighboring town could take upwards of 30 minutes. If you ask people who live there, they will all tell you Exeter’s Cornerstone Pub is the place to go.
The Cornerstone Pub is located on Nooseneck Hill Road (also known as Route 3) about a mile and a half from the Route 102 exit off of Route 95. Walking into the restaurant, you know immediately this is going to be a fun place to eat. There are televisions everywhere, including a projector pointed at a huge movie screen on one end of the restaurant. The walls are plastered with all things New England sports: Celtics, Bruins, Red Sox and Patriots. A massive bar that easily seats 40 people dominates the center of the restaurant. The wooden and tile floors along with mission- style furniture give the restaurant a homey touch. Out back, there is a nice deck where you can enjoy seasonal al fresco dining.
With 23 beers on tap and a cocktail menu with a wide variety of choices, you will not go thirsty at Cornerstone. If I had one quibble about their drink selection, it would be how few local options they have available. On the draft beer list, only one choice hails from Rhode Island – the Grey Sail Flying Jenny Pale Ale. On the day I visited, I skipped the alcohol and stuck with iced tea ($2.25). Since it was a hot day the iced tea hit the spot, and our excellent waitress kept my glass full.
The heart of any pub’s menu is its selection of appetizers. While watching a Patriots game or hanging out with friends, comfort food is always the way to go. My best advice is to get the Nachos ($9.99) and add the BBQ Pulled Pork ($1.99). On the day I was there, one of my West Greenwich friends said her family always gets the nachos. I can definitely see why. The menu describes them as being “piled high,” and that description really doesn’t do this Mount Everest of nachos justice. The chips were good, but the standout on this dish was the amazing pulled pork. I have been to barbecue restaurants that didn’t have pulled pork as good as what was on these nachos. It was so juicy and tender I couldn’t stop eating it. Also layered in this mound of nachos were melted cheddar jack cheese, shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, sliced black olives, sliced jalapeños and scallions. They were served with salsa and sour cream, but you honestly didn’t need to use either of them.
I also tried one of the Cornerstone’s signature grilled pizzas. They have some unique options, including a Thai Chicken Pizza ($11.99) and a Mango Habañero Pizza ($11.99). Since the nachos didn’t entirely clog my arteries, I opted for the Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza ($11.99). There were eight good-sized slices, so it was definitely big enough to share. The crust was good, but the toppings were piled so densely on top of the crust, it was almost superfluous. This pizza had finely chopped pieces of fried chicken, pecan wood smoked bacon, ranch dressing as well as cheddar, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. The smoky bacon flavor really stood out and provided a real depth of flavor.
My two friends chose to order off of the sandwich menu. One decided to be healthy and chose the Grilled Chicken Sandwich ($9.99) and substituted a salad for chips ($1.99). It was nice that people who stay away from fried food have some options. My other friend wasn’t really sure she wanted to try the Meatball Sandwich ($7.99) because like any good Italian girl, she is very picky about her meatballs. It did say on the menu that the meatballs were homemade, and our waitress encouraged her to give it a try. She did indeed enjoy the sandwich. The meatballs were served on a nice, soft sub roll with marinara sauce and melted provolone. The meatball sandwich is also served with chips, but this friend upgraded to French Fries ($.99). The fries were really good – very crisp and not greasy at all.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ve eaten at the Cornerstone Pub many times. The food is consistently fresh and well prepared. I’ve tried a little bit of everything from pasta dishes to salads to just about everything on the appetizer section of menu. It’s all good. The staff is always friendly, fast and accommodating. There aren’t many dining options in Exeter, but with a place like the Cornerstone, there doesn’t have to be.
273 Nooseneck Hill Road, Exeter