Restaurant Review by Don Fowler
The Iron Works Mill was the heartbeat of Warwick’s manufacturing district back in the 19th century.
Today, the meticulously restored building houses a modern tavern that has become the heartbeat of the rapidly developing City Centre, surrounded by hotels, businesses, and the gateway to T F Green Airport.
Joe and Lori Piscopio have brought life to the area since opening the Iron Works eight years ago.
Lori describes the cuisine as “Modern Gastropub Fare”. We found it to be magnificent cuisine.
We ran into old friend Dennis Labossiere at John Howell’s recent testimonial. John had chosen Iron Works Tavern as one of his favorite restaurants, and Dennis was there to serve the restaurant’s signature dish, braised beef short ribs.
“We hired Dennis as our Event Specialist this June. He has years of experience in the catering and restaurant business,” Lori said. “But he’s much more than that. After20 years operating Jenny’s Catering, and recently Director of Catering for Pinelli Marra, he ran Bistro by the Sea at Theatre By the Sea for the past three years. He seems to know everybody in the business world and also serves as our ambassador.
“I’m also proud of our creative chefs, Alex and Stephanie, who bring their Johnson and Wales inventive knowledge and experience to the kitchen. I’m also proud that we have four women in the kitchen.”
New Fall Menu
While you can always be sure to find their favorite dishes, like the 12-hour braised beef short ribs, and the 16 oz. grilled rib eye, the chefs have come up with an added fall menu that reflects the season and their creativity.
Comfort food is popular with the luncheon crowd, including a $10 Mac & Cheese, topped with garlic toasted bread crumbs, and bacon infused meatloaf, with garlic mashed, roasted mushrooms, buttered green beans and crispy onions ($12).
We were surprised by the large crowd on Monday night (Usually a quiet night for restaurants.)
It was Mussel Monday, with a healthy dish of Prince Edward Island mussels cooked in a tasty garlic and herb broth for only $5.
The signature fall appetizer is the stuffed pumpkin, which we enjoyed last fall. It almost looks too pretty to eat. The pumpkin is stuffed with roasted butternut squash, grilled onion, ciabatta croutons, dried cranberries, pepitas, goat cheese, arugula, and a grilled scallion cream ($15.)
Chef Alex has created a new special dish: Spicy Short Rib Linguini. The melt-in-your-mouth short rib is cut into small pieces and mixed with blistered tomato, confit cippolini onions, Fresno chilies, and roasted garlic in a tomato broth over linguini. Unbelievably delicious! ($25)
Joyce chose the Crispy Pork Belly and Sea Scallops, enhanced with broccoli rabe, baby carrots, and a creamy herb polenta ($27), a dish that showcases the creativity of the kitchen.
As a child, I couldn’t even look at a Brussels sprout. I never had the opportunity to taste them the way Chef Alex prepares them. Baked in truffle oil and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, the vegetable is crispy, tasty, and habit forming ($10). The restaurant serves over 600 orders a month.
Did I mention the sinful dark chocolate spoon cake, pumpkin cheesecake and apple cobbler on the fall menu?
Upstairs at the Tavern
Erica Flaxington of Warwick gave me a tour of the Upstairs at the Tavern, a unique, historical restoration of the original offices of the Rhode Island Malleable Ironworks Factory that has preserved into private dining rooms, a full service bar, and a gorgeous Great Room that can accommodate 25-150 guests.
“We are entering our peak season for business dinners, bridal showers, corporate functions, wedding rehearsal dinners, and holiday parties,” Labossiere said. “The space has so much history and ambiance.”
Flaxington pointed out the TV screens and electronic equipment, perfect for everything from conference presentations to family videos.
If event planners want a preview before visiting the site, they can check out the web site (www.The Iron Works Tavern.com) for a 3D video.
The Iron Works Tavern is located at 697 Jefferson Boulevard in City Centre Warwick. For reservations, call 739-5111.