“Pit masters are overrated; we are the fire lords,” jokes Arthur Evans who, with middle school chum Shane Rooney, founded South County Barbeque. The North Kingstown residents reconnected on social media, but their barbecue bromance blossomed through the pandemic, which they both spent smoking a lot of meat. “Everyone was watching Tiger King; I was trying to get my brisket right,” quips Evans. They planned to hold a barbecue pop-up to test market interest, but after getting caught in an administrative nightmare, they went all in and bought a food truck, which launched in September.
Keeping the business as local as possible, South County Barbeque gets meats from nearby farms, which are then smoked over hardwood sourced from Total Lawn Care in Wakefield. Everything, from sides to sauces, is scratch-made. “We’re melting faces with barbecue everywhere we go,” says Rooney, which includes the Field of Artisans Holiday Market at Whalers through December. Peace Dale, @southcountybarbeque
When Dan Latimer and Chad Bauerle opened Bomb Burritos & Bowls, they had a second concept in mind, writing into their lease a right of first refusal for the empty retail space beside their restaurant. But when Bomb opened its doors, the demand was overwhelming. They shelved their second concept and leased the empty unit as a contactless pickup hub. As the pandemic waned, pickups moved back to Bomb’s storefront, giving them space to open Bomb Wings & Wedges.
When refining Bomb’s burrito recipe, the pair lightened up the usually heavy food and they are taking the same approach with their chicken. Their wings are slow baked instead of deep fried, giving them a healthful twist without sacrificing flavor. “We've found over and over again that there's just too much fat in most restaurant menus,” Latimer explains. “We hit that nice middle ground where it's not unpleasant to indulge yourself.” Westerly, BombRI.com
Mystic’s fine Italian dining spot Via Emilia opened an outpost in Westerly – Bar Emilia – with resident Justin Bothur at the helm. The wine enthusiast, who cut his teeth at Thomas Keller’s Per Se in New York City and was food and beverage director at Ocean House, cultivated Bar Emilia’s dynamic wine list and creative craft cocktail menu inspired by old-school Italian aperitifs like the Negroni.
The small bites menu features Italian bar food like Tagliere, Italian charcuterie with meats and cheeses imported from Italy and from local purveyors, and veggie-forward Spuntini. Head chef Andrés Trujillo, who hails from Peru, came to the states from Oishii in Lima, one of the famed chef Nobu Matsuhisa’s restaurants. “He’s a very deft hand at raw fish,” says Bothur, pointing to their crudo plates featuring fluke and bluefin tuna. A selection of homemade pastas made at their sister restaurant rotates daily. Westerly, BarEmilia.com
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