In the Kitchen

From Farm (and Sea) to Table

How Artur Akopov creates diverse menus with local ingredients at Mariner Grille

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From the outside, Mariner Grille is an unassuming spot – tucked into a shopping complex off 108. Yet the Narragansett restaurant has a lot to offer: a horseshoe bar that’s busy all day, a modernist dining room for elegant seafood dinners, and a rotation of visiting musicians. At the heart of Mariner is Artur Akopov, executive chef and longtime Rhode Island transplant. Using locally sourced ingredients, Akopov has developed a diverse menu of seafood and terrestrial dishes, from the spicy El Diablo Burger to a magnificent Honey Apple Cider Glazed Salmon. Akopov rarely takes a day off, but we managed to catch him between shifts.

How did you come to join Mariner Grille?

I have been working in the restaurant business for over two decades. In 2006, the original owners approached me hoping I would help them open a new business called Mariner Grille. I worked with them to create the business and stayed for five years. After that, I took some time off to travel and eventually came back three years ago to rejoin
the team.

Folks come to the Mariner looking for all kinds of different things: pub fare, elegant seafood platters, and multi-course prix fixe lunches and dinners. How do you accommodate this range of appetites?

We try to keep it simple, using classic dishes and old Rhode Island staples, but we also wanted to add some new and different flavors that you don’t see available on as many menus. Having the variety in atmosphere, from fine dining to the lounge, allows us to manage multiple menus with a little crossover, while still keeping up with seasonal changes from our local farms and fishermen.

How does the menu change from season to season? How will you pivot from winter to spring?
We change the menu at least twice per year to accommodate seasonal changes. In the winter, our dishes tend to lean more towards comfort food, while the summer will give us a widely different produce variety to incorporate into our menus.

What’s your relationship with local fishing and agriculture?
We are fortunate enough to be in Narragansett, with the Port of Galilee just a few miles away. Our restaurant partners with local businesses like Narragansett Bay Lobsters, as well as Farm Fresh and Sunset Farm. We love supporting local fishing and agriculture. We also rely quite heavily on these local farms and fishermen who make it possible for us to keep doing
what we do.

Libations are a huge part of the Mariner. Do you guests show a lot of interest in pairings?
We do get a fair amount of interest in pairings. Our menu has some dishes or flavor combinations that aren’t offered in the area and it seems to interest people to try to pair a beer or a wine with them. We also try to change out our local beers often, and Rhode Island’s wonderful breweries will entice any customer to try to pair a local brew with their meal.

Mariner Grille
140 Point Judith Road, Narragansett • 284-3282