Experience: Taste the Love at Cowesett Inn in West Warwick

A family-owned mainstay since 1977, this beloved restaurant serves up American classics with local influence


For 47 years, the Cowesett Inn has been owned and operated by the Paolucci family. James Paolucci points to the original walls of the building that was purchased in 1977 and explains how they have been incorporated into the current space. The old coat room door, with lettering denoting it as such, is freestanding in the middle of the hallway, with a rod affixed to the back of the door where people can still hang their coats. Two walls of windows let in the evening light. On the other side of the wrap-around bar is an entirely different scene: brick fireplaces and cozy booths. Brass accents, wood paneling, and patterned upholstery make this feel like a time capsule, a tavern that is both classy and comfortable.

This is the first time my friend and I have visited the West Warwick institution. The first thing we notice is the market, full of local brands, small regional producers, and imported goods from Italy and Poland. Prepared meals can be purchased to-go, and a selection of thoughtfully arranged gift baskets are available. It’s a great place to peruse before the hostess seats us.

We were taken to a booth in the back, where ambient light filters through the large windows. The menu is expansive, offering options for every type of eater, from seafood lovers to vegetarians. Paolucci noted that some items have been there since the beginning: dishes like Clams Casino and Chicken Maryland. My friend and I started with the drink choices, deciding on a classic Bloody Mary for her and a Tiramisu Martini for me. Made with RumChata liqueur, Kahlua, and vanilla vodka, it was reminiscent of melted chocolate ice cream – a delicious indulgence.

Our waiter, Tyler, made a convincing case for the Pierogi as a starter. “Every week, we have Polish ladies who come in and make them,” he explained. “They’re the best.” Intrigued, we ordered the potato and cheese version. They arrived topped with sauteed onions and crispy bacon bits, and they were the best I’ve ever had. “You can tell these were made by hand,” my friend said, noting the way the edges of the dough were pressed together. “This wasn’t done by a fork. There’s a lot of love in there.”

For our entrees, the Ribeye was cooked to a perfect medium rare, and the choice of sides (in this case, steamed spinach and mashed potatoes) were generous and filling. The Sausage Ravioli had a kick to it, with spicy sausage balanced by a creamy garlic white wine butter sauce, while the sauteed mushrooms, broccoli rabe, and roasted red pepper provided excellent flavor and texture to the dish, and, dare I say – it rivals any Italian ravioli on Federal Hill.

Although we were getting ready to leave with our to-go boxes, at the last moment, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity for dessert. Spying something called Grapenut Pudding, I asked my friend what it was – her eyes widened when she exclaimed, “You’ve never had Grapenut pudding? It’s a Rhode Island rite of passage!” For any non-native New Englander, this custard-like dessert is made with milk-soaked Grape-Nut cereal that settles into a type of crust. I had to try it.

I was surprised by its structural integrity: a square slice served on a plate, topped with whipped cream and nutmeg. The cereal gave it a chewy texture, like tapioca or rice pudding, and it had just the right amount of sugar and hints of vanilla. Although I didn’t experience the nostalgia, I enjoyed my inaugural slice, and I felt one step closer to becoming a true Rhode Islander.

The Cowesett Inn is the perfect place to return week after week or to plan a special event, with plenty of seating to accommodate friends and family. With such a diverse menu, even the most complicated dietary restrictions can be satisfied, and somehow everyone will leave wow-ed. Perhaps it’s the extra ingredient of love that makes all the difference.


Cowesett Inn

226 Cowesett Avenue, West Warwick

401-828-4726 • CowesettInn.net



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