We spent a weekend in Narraganssett, Rhode Island to usher in Summer 2010. After a delayed departure from New York City and a four-hour plus drive to the Ocean State, our first order of business as soon as we checked our borrowed digs by the beach was to get dinner. There were a few restaurants recommended to us in the area, but we were looking for that quintessential New England scene rather than an easy stop by the mall. The Matunuck Oyster Bar won out after looking at their menu online: no veal scaloppini and no shrimp scampi specials.
It was packed when we walked in and button-down chambray shirts with shorts were the uniform. The wait for two was about an hour, but we hadn’t been standing at the bar with our Merlots and whiskeys for too long when we were called to be seated.
We started with a bowl of white chowder–chowdah, as they say in these parts–with potatoes. The Rhode Island style of chowder is my favorite kind because it’s more watery than thick; more seafood than cream. We balanced that with an arugula salad with white beans and onions pickled in balsamic vinegar. We ordered the local pond oysters with the fresh littleneck clams and split the cod sandwich to wrap up dinner. I neglected to note the oyster varieties, only remembering one as briny (our preference) while the rest were sweet and juicy. The cod was no different from other fish sandwiches I’ve had before, leading the Dr. to describe it as â€œa glorified Filet-O-Fishâ€–to no fault of Matunuck’s owners of course; it’s just the boring nature of cod.
We asked our waitress if the weekend was the first time the restaurant has been busy this season. She told us that it’s been busy for the last few weeks, but this official start of summer will steady business. The service was surprisingly attentive even for a front of the house staff made of mostly teenagers. The best part was the price: our entire meal cost less than $45 including the much lower state tax of 7%.
Matunuck Oyster Bar is at 629 Succotash Road, South Kingston, Rhode Island. Call to check how long the wait is before you leave the beach 401/783.4202.