Review: Half Moon

Making things special
By BILL RODRIGUEZ  |  September 22, 2010

The Half Moon is a pert and personable cloth-napkin place off the beaten track in Coventry. It’s not likely to lure diners from restaurant-rich Providence, but it’s worth checking out if you’re in the neighborhood.

The Genesis story of the restaurant is explained on the menu, since the married-couple proprietors want to convey that this is more than business to them. (Chef Bob Meyers and sometimes-hostess, sometimes-waitress Kerri Meyers met at Snookers in Providence, where she was a cocktail waitress. They honeymooned at Half Moon Bay in California.)

Half Moon | 401.615.7880 | 1650 Nooseneck Hill Rd, Coventry | Mon-Thurs, 11:30 am-2 pm, 3:30-9 pm; Fri, 11:30 am-2 pm, 3:30-10 pm; Sat, 3:30-10 pm; Sun, 12-9 pm | Major Credit Cards | Full Bar | Sidewalk-Level Access
Speaking of business, Half Moon has plenty of specials to lure customers: Early bird $8 entrées. Two-for Tuesdays; $34 includes salads and a bottle of wine. Appetizers are half-price Sunday-Tuesday in the lounge, and a bottle of wine with your entrée is 25 percent off on Mondays. A list of “Every Day Specials” on the menu, however, makes you want to tell them that if they’re everyday, they are, uh, not specials.

Most dishes are Italian. Exceptions include a couple of salmon preparations and a Cajun blackened scrod among the main courses. Of course, even semi-strict Italian restaurants loosen ethnic loyalty with their appetizers. So in addition to bruschetta ($6) and polenta ($7), you’ll find chicken quesadillas ($10), kitchen-made crab cakes ($10), and an interesting sounding “Tuna Tartare Martini” ($10). That last one has pignoli nuts, capers, scallions, a bit of soy sauce, and a lime aioli.

Rhode Islanders do like their New England clam chowder, so that’s offered daily along with chicken escarole. Of those nine “Every Day Specials,” 4-1/2 of them are non-Italian, such as fish and chips — the 1/2 referring to the mac and cheese containing prosciutto, plum tomatoes, and scallions.

We chose from the Sunday-Thursday prix fixe menu: three selections for $19 per person, four for $23 (prices noted below are à la carte). Soup or salad is one selection; entrée, desserts, and glass of wine are the others. Quite a bargain.

In addition to house and Caesar salads ($4), there is an intriguing calamari salad, which Johnnie chose. The squid was lightly sautéed and then chilled with red onions and placed on a bed of greens, surrounded by a generous amount of diced fresh tomatoes. Very good.

The other two of us had the chicken escarole ($3.50/$5) and the soup of the day. The former had plenty of everything in it, and was appreciated for the greenery being in manageable pieces “rather than going on and on.” My broccoli, potato, and prosciutto soup was tasty, but the meat was nowhere to be found.

The grilled pork tenderloin ($15) was a modest amount but fork tender and flavorful, grill marks making it even more appetizing. The accompanying mashed potatoes were red bliss, and the requested vegetable, brussels sprouts, was not overcooked.

Johnnie ordered penne for her scrod puttanesca. The bite-size, sauce-covered chunks of fish, to the side of the pasta to avoid mushing, were also cooked with restraint, and the calamatas were flavorful. Since I’d have three main dishes to describe, I indulged and chose what I wanted, repeating penne with a pink sauce. The three medium-plus crustaceans in my shrimp à la vodka ($18) were full of flavor rather than Styrofoam, and both tablemates commented on how tangy the sauce was.

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