Back in October 2012, Superstorm Sandy gave South County a beating. The area has come a long way since the sustained 58mph winds blew through. The sand in the streets is back on the beaches where it belongs and many restaurants have reopended, like Maria’s Seaside Cafe. “The damage done to Maria’s Seaside Cafe was shocking to me,” says owner John Bellone. “I walked up Montauk Avenue towards Maria’s and was one and a half blocks away and I noticed a one liter bottle of Italian water that was offered in our cafe come floating down the Avenue. I knew this wasn’t a good sign. Then I saw a bar stool floating.” As he approached the building he realized two sections of the building were knocked over and the entire front wall was gone. There was three to five feet of sand inside of the entire restaurant. Nothing was spared. Family pictures from Sicily lay buried in sand on the floor. It was a life changing moment for John to say the least.
Fast forward to today and the cafe has been successfully rebuilt, albeit with some changes. To begin with, John decided to only rebuild half of the cafe to make room for a 31-unit boutique hotel, which is slated to open spring 2017. It will also bear the name of his mother who recently passed away: The Hotel Maria. The cafe has an open air feeling to it, with walls constructed to open up onto two outdoor patios.
To keep some consistency between then and now, John has brought on Chef Rafael Rosas who was at the cafe prior to Sandy. Chef Rafael prepares everything from scratch and uses local and organic ingredients whenever possible. He’s inspired by Mediterranean cuisine, and focuses his menu on that region.
No seaside retreat is complete without stellar cocktails. John insists The Hotel Maria Margarita is a must try. With Hotel California tequila, fresh squeezed lime and orange juice, and agave nectar, it’s the perfect cocktail to enjoy every single summer sea breeze.
132 Atlantic Avenue, Westerly