When it comes to Providence, there is a deep rooted history and along with that are some very iconic buildings. There is of course the capitol building which was finished being built in 1904. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and actually boasts the fourth largest self-supporting marble dome in the world. Then there is the iconic Superman Building (officially known as the Industrial Trust building). It was finished being constructed in 1928 and has served as a symbol in the Providence skyline ever since then. It is the tallest building in the city and gets its nickname for its familiar appearance to the Daily Planet building in the 1950’s Superman TV series. And to round it all out there is the Arcade, the first indoor shopping mall in the United States. It is within the historic walls of this building you will find Rogue Island. This craft beer bar and local restaurant is found in an iconic establishment but has been building up a reputation as a place where locals and visitors can grab a great bite to eat and choose from a fresh and ever changing selection of craft brews.
Rogue Island is overseen by owner Ryan Bessette and general manager Bill Pietras. From the beginning, Ryan said that they wanted to bring something new to the RI food and craft beer scene. “We were looking to start with something simple and easy, more of a street food concept. We wanted to work with local farms and bridge that food experience with craft beer (which is a tie in to their iconic Providence bridge logo as well).” When you look at their menu you will notice that it tends to change with the seasons (and what is fresh) and features a great selection of locally sourced ingredients. And while the menu does see some changes based on what is available, there are of course staple items and plenty of mouthwatering options to choose from. There are starters like homemade pretzel bites, Baffoni Farms chicken wings and even a fried brussels salad. Entrees/main dishes range from a roasted cauliflower melt, a Rogue burger and even a short rib grilled cheese. To go along with all of those food options, there are plenty draft and bottles/cans of beers to choose from as well. “Again, we try to keep it all as local as possible with our beers and try to have a variety of cool options for guests to choose from,” said Ryan. “There are so many different beers and it takes a balance to keep offering different choices on a regular basis. We also clean our lines on a weekly basis which means you can’t find any newer, fresher beers in the state than right here. We also like to get creative and try to mix in different beers/beer concepts and pairings with our Sunday brunch food offerings as well.” If you are a foodie, craft beer enthusiast, tourist or even a local resident, Rogue Island has plenty of interesting and intriguing food and beer choices that anyone can certainly enjoy.
Along with everything going on daily at the restaurant, the guys at Rogue Island have been working on some exciting projects that will certainly be worth checking out. The first one relates to beer and, more specifically, a collaboration in the works with Whalers Brewing down in South Kingston. “We have been working on two different beers with the guys at Whalers. We wanted to keep the same base recipe but change the hops each time we brewed it (say start with Mosaic and then try it with Belma and then Azacca hops). The name of it will be Dangerous Opinions, as it is a tribute to Rhode Island founder Roger Williams and how he went against the norm.” Ryan also went on to say that they have a great relationship with Whalers and always try to snag special brews from them and are looking forward to the day the restaurant is able to carry exclusive brews, like Dangerous Opinions, on draft at the bar. “We ultimately want to get a beer that we brew out on the shelves. Just having our Rogue Island name out there would be an extra bonus and really hope to see Dangerous Opinions in cans one day.”
The second project that has been in the works ties into the food side of the business and is their own line called Rogue Island Provisions. Two of their first products are already available to purchase. One is a Bourbon BBQ sauce and the other is an Apple Habanero hot sauce, both of which are available and can be bought at the restaurant’s store front. Ryan also mentioned they are working on releasing a cocktail sauce, along with a mustard (in collaboration with a local brewery). And to keep the provisions line diverse, they have also introduced a variety of scones, spent grain granola bars and even some creative donuts (that have graced their brunch menu).Whether you find yourself at the Arcade for a bite and a brew or even a new sauce to spice up some recipes at home, Rogue Island certainly has you covered.
As I have mentioned in previous blog posts, not only do I feel strongly about promoting and supporting the local craft beer scene, so do the brewers and a growing number of businesses throughout RI. Rogue Island is definitely one of those businesses that does just that. From the ingredients used in the kitchen, to the draft beer and bottle selection, to the restaurants logo itself, the message is clear that supporting the local community means a lot. And as the years have passed, that pride and quality continues to attract plenty of patrons while also allowing an opportunity for growth. “We have begun the process of looking into a new second location. We definitely want to (hopefully) open our own brewpub and have more of a beer hall feel to it,“ Ryan explained. It is exciting news as they pursue expansion while at the same time continuing to be creative and provide the consistent quality customers have come to expect at their flagship location. Weekend brunch continues to be a big hit, along with burger & beer and flatbread nights throughout the week, and, of course, beer related events. Both Rogue Island and Whalers Brewing fans should be on the lookout during craft beer week, where on May 15th there will be a 10 tap takeover going on. And of course continue to be on the lookout for Rogue Provisions as well, as it continues to grow and expand its offerings in the restaurant and throughout the state. I would like to thank both Ryan and Bill for their time, fantastic hospitality and great insights. On behalf of Prost Providence, I raise my glass and Prost Rogue Island!