Providence has been rated one of the top destinations for dining in the United States by a number of national publications (including Travel + Leisure, Zagat and the Huffington Post). I agree wholeheartedly. There are a wide variety of cuisines to pick from, and there are many top notch chefs turning out delicious food. Yet, sometimes I don’t feel like dealing with downtown metered parking, I want to save some money or the city is just too far away from where I am when I want a quick bite. Luckily, dining outside of the city has come a long way since the days of my youth. After a day of learning how to paddleboard in Narragansett, I made the smart decision to forego a trek into the city and instead stopped at Sonoma Bistro and WineBar.
Sonoma Bistro and WineBar is just what you’d expect from a restaurant on the outskirts of Providence. The parking is plentiful and free, which is a huge plus in my book. The restaurant has a casual, homey feel with the majority of the seats being in nice comfortable booths. The staff was friendly, welcoming and accommodating. We noted a majority of the guests were regulars, and the staff knew them by name.
Before I arrived, I was planning to try one of their many wines, but then I saw the beer list and was immediately impressed. They have 12 local Rhode Island beers on draft, plus dozens of draft beers from New England and beyond. I started with one of my favorites: Cranston’s own Revival Brewing Company’s Night Swim’ah Belgian Wheat Ale ($6.99). From there I moved onto another favorite, Providence’s Trinity Brewhouse’s Rhode Island IPA ($4.99). I was pleased when I saw the prices because at a recent dinner in Providence, my local beers were $8 a piece. My guest enjoyed one of their signature cocktails (Mexican Vacation) on the hot night we were there. This martini was a blend of Patron Silver Tequila, Patron Citronage, Cointreau and fresh squeezed lime juice. She loved it and thought it was a bargain at $10. The wine list offered many bargains as well. All glasses
were priced between $7 and $9.50.
As we sipped our drinks and perused the large menu, our waitress brought out a loaf of warm, tasty French bread. With so many choices on the menu, I can see why there are so many regulars. They could eat here every night and not have to repeat their orders for weeks. There was a large selection of appetizers, including half a dozen grilled pizzas. There was also a variety of salads, which could be made into a meal with the addition of a protein (how about some fried calamari on your salad?). Still in summer mode, we shared an order of the Clam Cakes ($9). We were given a platter of five humungous clam cakes served with a delicious spicy aioli. The sauce was a nice addition to the traditional clam cakes, and it was so tasty I wished there was more of it on the plate.
As far as entrées go, there was something for everyone. The hamburgers are all one half pound of ground Black Angus Beef, and the sandwiches I saw were very large. I opted for one of the lighter sounding dishes, Salmon Cavatelli ($18). It turned out to be a good order but not really a light dish. I can’t lie, my favorite part of this dish was the crispy leeks on the top. My second favorite part of the dish was the pasta, which was cooked to a perfect al dente. It was blended with creamy Dijon mustard and smoked salmon sauce, capers and slivers of red onion. I loved the smoked salmon sauce because it was very strong, but it might not to be to everyone’s taste. As if all that goodness wasn’t enough, the chef also added a large piece of well-seasoned, pan-seared salmon. I am picky about my salmon, and this piece was good. My guest was in the mood for red meat, so she ordered the Bistro Steak Frites ($21). The steak was topped with a pan sauce and served with a mountain of hand cut fries covered in Parmesan and garlic. The fries were amazing, and there were plenty enough to share.
The desserts are all made in-house, and a few of them sounded good to us. We chose the Reese’s Peanut Butter Cheesecake ($9). It was full of rich peanut butter flavor, and the brownie crust could have stood on its own as a dessert. Our generous sized slice was topped with a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup and fresh whipped cream.
After everything we ate, we were glad we were able to park close and not have to wait for a valet. Dining outside the city undoubtedly has its advantages. If I lived closer, Sonoma would be on my list of neighborhood spots, and they would most definitely know my name. When a restaurant has friendly service, reasonable prices, a killer beer list and a big variety of good food, what more could you want?
Sonoma Bistro and WineBar
7366 Post Road, North Kingstown