In the Kitchen: The Foodie Couple Behind Salty Restaurant at The Village Hearth

A dinner service pop-up takes up permanent residence at a Jamestown bakery


Salty Restaurant and Wine Bar used to be a pipe dream. Owners Noah and Alex Cain had always wanted to open their own restaurant, but with the combined income of a professional chef and a university professor, up-front capital was tight, and without a definitive customer base to show the bank, a loan was virtually impossible. “We’d always kicked around this idea of what it would be,” says Alex. 

The Cains had always been foodie nomads. Noah worked as a chef for about 15 years in cities all around the world, from Boston and New York City to Southern France and other parts of Europe, before settling in Jamestown five years ago, working at the Coast Guard House and various Newport restaurants.

Their pop-up restaurant concept started through a serendipitous chain of events. In 2021, Stephanie and Lindsay Haigh became the new owners of The Village Hearth Bakery and Cafe, a staple in the Jamestown community. Noah helped make Sunday night pizzas for the popular spot in between cooking jobs, and a creative relationship blossomed between the food makers. When the Haighs learned the Cains were looking for a space to open their own eatery in 2023, they offered up the cafe to undergo a nightly transformation hosting their pop-up restaurant, Salty.

The first edition was in February, with all four nights completely selling out. By day, the Village Hearth would still serve pastries, sandwiches, and more during their regular hours, but at 5pm on select evenings, Salty dinner service began; the cafe was stripped, decor changed to give Salty its own vibe, and everything would be put back exactly as it was for coffee and breakfast the next morning.

“I’m so glad,” Noah expresses. “So glad the community turned out, that we could partner with an already existing business, and that Alex could come on board. It’s like lightning in a bottle.” The Cains acknowledge that it’s a unique opportunity that allows them to live out a dream and share a space with a beloved eatery. Besides businesses that take European-style mid-afternoon siestas between lunch and dinner, there’s nothing quite like this complete changeover.

The couple’s experiences in Europe inspired the theme of Salty. “We always stumbled upon these little gems,” Noah relays. “We wanted to create something, particularly for the Jamestown community, where you could drop in, get a drink or light bite, or stay for a few hours,” Alex adds. The atmosphere is intimate and relaxed, with smaller plates and many courses, plus shareable meals for the table (think Spanish tapas).

Drawing on flavor profiles from Southern France, Italy, Spain, and Northern Africa, Salty infuses a “coastal Mediterranean” flair. Small bites might include fluffy focaccia with salt cod brandade – a decadent spread – and for shareable main courses, they’ve offered the likes of mushroom salad with pickled celeriac, delicately spiced lamb boulettes (meatballs) with harissa yogurt, tender pork shoulder brochettes with grilled lemon, and melt-in-your-mouth Sicilian tuna surrounded by roasted potatoes and tomatoes, drizzled with a honey vinegar sauce. For dessert, Noah’s chocolate mousse recipe with just a hint of sea salt and homemade whipped cream comes directly from his cooking experience in France.

Despite its exotic dishes, Salty’s menu is committed to supporting the local food ecosystem. “If I’m in the food industry, I feel partly responsible to be a part of the system, delivering local food to local people,” Noah affirms of a commitment very much engrained in the European lifestyle of serving food that draws upon seasonal immediacy. The Cains’ goal is to source almost entirely local and seasonal, and highlight farm vendors. Lamb comes from Windmist Hill Farm, just a mile away, and Watson Farm is a go-to for produce. Other suppliers within a short distance include Luckyfoot Ranch in North Kingstown, Garman Farm in Middletown, and Narragansett Bay Lobsters.

Starting in June, Salty will no longer be just a monthly pop-up, but a permanent evening fixture at The Village Hearth, which means islanders won’t have to go far to experience a taste of Europe.


Salty Restaurant & Wine Bar at The Village Hearth

2 Watson Avenue, Jamestown

Every Friday-Saturday




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