Review: Trattoria Simpatico

A pleasant view wherever you look
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  August 10, 2010

It’s not only the real estate biz where location means enough to repeat the point. With restaurants that’s not the main factor — witness the rude food in seaside boîtes where they don’t need the tourists to come back again — but a pleasant view while dining can enhance the experience.

Trattoria Simpatico | 401.423.3731 | 13 Narragansett Ave, Jamestown | Mon-Tues, 5-10 pm; Wed 12-10 pm; Thurs-Fri 12-11 pm; Sat 11 am-11 pm; Sun 9 am-10 pm | Major Credit Cards | Full Bar | Sidewalk-Level Access
In the case of Jamestown’s Trattoria Simpatico, it’s not so much the sight of boats bobbing in the bay a hundred yards down the street — the view is the summertime atmosphere of the place itself. Most of the seating is outdoors under dark green canopies and parasols, surrounded by potted palms and live, gentle jazz, where you can watch other tourists strolling by and imagine them longingly noticing the chilled beer in your hand. The bar is also outdoors, equally weather-protected. Even the inside, with fewer tables, looks like it’s trying to mimic the outside, as lengths of cloth artfully sagging from the ceiling enjoy the breeze. This is such a summertime place that in winter they probably plug in sunlamps.

The tables, with glass tops over cloth, all sport flowers, making for more of a date spot than beach bar atmosphere. For sitting and sipping there are 15 beers and a couple of dozen wines by the glass. For those casual, between-meal snack situations there is a separate menu with “Café Selections” on one side — sandwiches and pizzas — and raw bar opportunities on the facing page. One proposal for two or three people to nosh nicely is a chilled seafood sampler ($38.95) that would cost another $7 à la carte.

The appetizers offer interesting variety. The green curry mussels ($9.95) were being praised at another table, although they come from Maine rather than locally, and the yellowfin tuna tartar ($12.95) sounded fascinating with its spicy watermelon glaze. For meat-eaters, there are tamarind-glazed pork ribs ($8.95) and Long Island duck confit crepes ($9.95).

The organic mushroom three-onion ratatouille ($7.95) appealed to Johnnie as a starter. Mushrooms, including some less-seen ones like enoki, were incidental to the dish, but she very much enjoyed the slightly spicy mix of chopped vegetables further perked up by a dollop of pepperdew pesto. I had a soup of the day ($6.95), described as roasted corn, smoked bacon, and clam chowder. Corn niblets were accents rather than a main ingredient, the bacon was plentiful, and the clams were super-abundant. Very enjoyable.

Most of the pastas are fairly complex and thought out, such as the linguine with Georges Banks scallops ($21.95) that added citrus and “white wine butter” to lighten things up. And how many Italian restaurants offer pad thai ($12.95) with maple soy glaze and a cilantro-lime coulis? Johnnie wanted to test how they could accomplish simple things, so she ordered the penne marinara ($12.95). A good quality pasta, al dente, with shredded basil atop a simple, sweet diced tomato sauce, with pieces of Narragansett Creamery mozzarella (finally — there you go, locavores). Quite delicious.

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