Monday, July 30, 2012


Bristol is good for dinner but its best places aren't oriented to the water. DeWolf's ( sort of is but there's a lot of chatter between you on the top deck and the actual water. Head to neighboring Warren for cafés feet from the busy harbor traffic. On Wednesday nights, for instance, watch sailboats in different classes head out and in from the races. Plug Warren, RI into a map site and you'll see why sitting dockside is fun - you're across from one of Barrington's prettiest neighborhoods and the waterway is relatively narrow and loaded with action.

Tav-Vino (267 Water Street  401-245-0231) occupies the space you may know as Sunnyside (, a popular place for breakfast and lunch. By night Sunnyside slips off its daytime persona and, in the hands of a totally different crew, dresses up to become Tav-Vino. Tav-Vino's website isn't up today but its relatively simple menu is fish/seafood oriented. There is a steak, of course (in RI there is always a steak) but the emphasis is not on meat. Prices are good - not lunch-counter low but not swank-place high either. Entrées are mostly in the $20 neighborhood, some less. And if you order only a drink and a first course, you don't get an aggrieved look from your waiter.

Red sauce, southern-Italian style, is in a few dishes - pictured with clams above. Crusty bread was okay, not great. The menu overall is only semi-Italian. In fact, I had dragged my feet about going to Tav-Vino at all because I had images, faulty it turns out, of veal chops and heavy sauces. But there was a butter overdose in the fish chowder, too bad because the fish was overwhelmed. The chowder, itself cream-based, was poured over barely toasted and heavily buttered baguette slices. All redeemed by the free-form strawberry rhubarb tart which was light, sweet-sour and delicious. Overall, nice place, good-enough food and a great patio.

A little note about the location. The savvy reader will know from the geography that we were facing westward on the dockside patio which means this is a hot location on a steamy day and, once the sun falls beneath the awning edge, sunglasses (and maybe a hat) are a must.

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