DiMare Seafood in East Greenwich is a family operated bistro/marketplace featuring fresh, local items with an Italian influence. Co-owners Katie and Treven Leonard’s passion for providing uncomplicated, clean and comforting food is obvious in a menu that is sure to impress even the most discerning of seafood lovers.
What inspired DiMare?
Katie: DiMare was merely a thought between my older brother and me back in 1995. I was 16 and Danny had just opened the original Seafood Marketplace in the Benny’s Plaza on Rt. 1 at only 24. We two Navy brats spent a lot of time outdoors together fishing, stringing bait, swimming, boogie boarding, and most of all, talking about Rhode Island and its local fishing economy. While I moved on with my other career through my 20s, Danny passed in a tragic accident and the “Frutti Di Mare” marketplace-restaurant-combo dream became that much closer to my heart. I set a goal and at 30 after moving back home from the metro DC area, I opened DiMare. I based the concept, the look, the feel, the product, the ingredients and even the glassware completely around simplicity and common desire.
How did you and your husband meet?
Treven and I met one afternoon as he ordered our Mussels & Chourico and homemade sangria. After five years of dating and becoming the best of friends, we have found ourselves newlyweds as well as business partners who truly believe in the same vision. It is our way of life now and we are determined to keep the dream that Danny and I shared alive at DiMare.
Where does the Italian influence originate?
My family was stationed in Italy for about four years, which is where I was born. I am also half Italian by way of my mother’s side of the family. When I went back to visit my roots in 1995, I found myself drawn to the butcher shops and markets upon cobblestone walkways with the freshest cuts of meat and seafood on display but also to the family-owned trattorias or B&Bs. That was when my dream to own one truly became a mission: simple, fresh cooking with a lot of love and care so that you can taste the food instead of covering it up with unhealthy ingredients. That was how my Gram cooked. That is how we cook. And around that iconic Italian kitchen table is where “life” happens.
Does harsh winter weather affect the amount/types of seafood you serve?
All weather conditions affect the types of seafood and product in general that we serve from cold to hot, rain to wind. So does the economy, such as fuel prices. Treven and I make it our focus to stay in tune with all of these variables in order to never compromise the standards of our product line. It is our responsibility in this profession to buy seafood that reinforces the local industry/economy, sustains the health of our oceans, and continually informing the customers about various products while minding everyone’s wallet. We all have a responsibility to buy local and sustain our economy but also to sustain the healthiness of our local landscape.
What menu item would you suggest for those who may be a little hesitant about trying seafood?
Certainly a mild, white flaky fish such as haddock, cod, pollock, local flounder or halibut. Also, most non-seafood eaters will always enjoy a nice and tender fried calamari. Unfortunately, seafood has turned off many people by having it somewhere that didn’t care for it responsibly. Really fresh seafood shouldn’t smell fishy. It should give off about the same amount of odor as a perfectly ripened fruit or none at all. You will notice inside DiMare that it doesn’t smell like fish – nor should it. Definitely another safe venture would be Fish Tacos. We roast ours instead of frying, as it just isn’t necessary. It’s all about perspective and freshness. We started introducing Treven’s seven-year-old son, Tony to more and more seafood without pressure after realizing he was becoming biased to chicken nuggets at a very young age. Now his favorite food is lobster and raw bar. Smart kid. Maybe he will be shucking at DiMare one day.
DiMare Seafood’s bistro and marketplace are both open Tuesday-Saturday from 11am-9pm. 2706 South County Trail East Greenwich 885-8100.