Oakland Beach for Dinner

Oakland Beach finally evolves into a dining destination

 

I am proud to be the first to announce that Oakland Beach has returned.  I’ve watched the neighborhood struggle for as long as I’ve lived in Rhode Island, wondering when they will ever get the right formula to bring back the magic that Oakland Beach once was.  They found it and I get to announce it…  Oakland Beach is now a dining destination.

Iggy’s, Top of the Bay, Carousel Cafe, Marley’s on the Beach, Fillipo’s Twisted Pizza, and One Bay Avenue have, together, created enough synergy to bring you out to Oakland Beach to eat, even if you haven’t decided yet what you are hungy for.

Some people have waited over 70 years for Oakland Beach to recover from the Great Hurricane.  The Great Hurricane of 1938 with its 20-foot storm surge followed by the Great Depression, WWII, 1954’s Hurricane Carol, the ending of the electric trolly lines to Oakland Beach, and general neglect took its toll on what was once the summertime destination of Providence mill workers.  The carousel lasted until the 1970’s along the ailing midway, but without the electric trolley bringing beachgoers, Oakland Beach became an easily ignored rough part of town.  Biker bars, a poorly-tended beach, and houses badly in need of paint were the representatives of the neighborhood.

But all that has changed.

Anyone who knows Oakland Beach knows about Iggy’s.  Iggy’s has been around since the 1980’s, though the clam shack originally housed “Gus’s Clamcakes” in 1924.  In a state as dedicated to the ocean as much as Rhode Island, clam shacks are in short supply, and Iggy’s was where I was first introduced to clamcakes and doughboys.  They’ve spiffed up the building a little in the last few years, so the term “shack” doesn’t actually apply anymore.  Expect climate-controlled indoor seating, pleasant outdoor seating, clamcakes by the dozen and half-dozen, and long lines for window service in the summertime.

Top of the Bay has also been around for a while… at least the building has been.  One previous name was Cherrystones.  I’ve seen it go through different owners and different names, but as long as I can remember it’s been a restaurant where I feel comfortable taking my wife on a dinner date.  Enjoy dinner downstairs with white tablecloth service, then move upstairs for drinks and music on the deck with fantastic views of the bay.

Marley’s on the Beach is quiet in the winter, but is hopping in the summer.  A lot more casual than Cherrystone’s, it’s a place for music and casual food.

Carousel Café is a family restaurant with the classic Rhode Island menu of seafood and Italian food … and Italian seafood.  They also feature live music on weekends.  We were pleased with the quality of food and portions when we ate there, and the owners have plans to expand.

One of the best features of Carousel Cafe and Iggy’s is that they now have off-street parking.  Parking had long been scarce in the area, but with their private lots, that’s no longer a problem.

It’s easy to forget One Bay Avenue, since it’s not along the one-way road that circles past the other restaurants, it’s at the east side of the neck, still close enough to make it count as part of the destination.  One Bay Avenue feels like a yacht club restaurant, with indoor and outdoor seating, great service and food.  It’s definitely for the older, better heeled diners.

And Twisted Pizza has taken up residence right on the corner as you enter the beach area.  Twisted Pizza is well known to East Greenwich pizza fans and looks like a permanent addition to the Oakland Beach area.

Now, if for some strange reason you can’t find what you are hungry for at one of these restaurants, there are plenty of options along West Shore Road, not far from Oakland Beach.

Of course there are other reasons to come to Oakland Beach.  It has a nice, clean beach and nice views.  The park at the beach is the venue for classic car rallies and neighborhood festivals.  You’ll also find Amygis Beach, Warwick’s unofficial dog beach, along its west side, looking toward Buttonwoods Park. Make sure you clean up after Fido and keep him controlled or Warwick will start enforcing leash laws in the one place dogs can frolic in the bay.

And, soon, we hope to see the new hand-carved carousel return to Oakland Beach.  And maybe souvenir shops and arcade games.  But that’s in the future.  It’s already the place to go for the beach, dinner, and music.

[POP]
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