[Sidebar] September 14 - 21, 2000
[Food Reviews]
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The Stone Bridge

A sightseeing respite

by Bill Rodriguez

1848 Main Road, Tiverton, 625-5780
Open Tues-Sun, 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
Major credit cards
Sidewalk access

Although chef Nick Chrisochoidis ratcheted up his menu's ambitions over the years, customers persisted in thinking of his Mykonos restaurant as just a pizza and grinder joint. So a year ago, he stopped serving those items, changed the name to Stone Bridge Restaurant and officially went after a less casual crowd. Word has gotten out and the "new" place is a success. This is nice for Chrisochoidis, and even nicer for anybody up for a good meal after a hard afternoon of wine tasting, antique inspecting and beach walking in the appetite-sharpening fresh air of Tiverton and Little Compton.

The view of the wide Sakonnet River across the street brings just enough of the great outdoors inside, for a transition from sightseeing to platter-appreciating. The decor is still decidedly downscale, with lots of floral prints on the gray faux-wood-grain paneled walls, and wreaths of bittersweet vines burgeoning with artificial flowers. But the pizza parlor legacy doesn't extend past the decorations.

Nearly three dozen wines, mostly imported labels, are available, and the mark-up is minimal. Joined by out-of-state guests, we got a bottle of the Louis Latour, a decent table-grade Chardonnay, which was only $14.95 ($4.50 by the glass). There's a full bar as well. The Stone Bridge was out of rolls for our bread basket, so we got extra herbed grilled bread, which prompted no complaints from our table.

Perhaps from nostalgia, three personal-size pizzas were among the appetizers on the specials menu that night. The Athenian version ($6.95) was chock full of Kalamata olives, as well as feta. My hungry competitors each said it was terrific, although I like a chewier crust. The other appetizer we ordered, another special, was asparagus with prosciutto and asiago ($7.95). What came out was well-enjoyed, but oddly proportioned: six spears next to quite a pile of the salt-cured ham and a good portion of the tangy hard cheese. As a carnivore, I was delightfully surprised, but the vegetable-lover who ordered it wanted more of the tasty broiled greenery.

Although many Italian dishes are featured, from parmigianas to shrimp scampi, the chef's Greek roots clearly show, thank goodness, from the spanikopita appetizer ($5.95) to an intriguing-sounding chicken fillet topped with fig sauce and goat cheese ($14.50). One of our party ordered the cod Mykonos ($12.95) and was won over by the tangy wine sauce, sparked up by lemon juice, with tomatoes. Across the table, the scallops casserole ($12.95) got raves for the rich, buttery preparation. Johnnie picked a special, black and white lobster ravioli ($15.95). From Puerini's, as is all the fresh pasta here, the five fat pillows, half-colored with squid ink and covered with unusually tasty baby shrimp, were filling enough with the house salad for her to take a couple home.

I had the rack of lamb ($16.95) and enjoyed the flavorful chops in their strong, tomatoey sauce with its acid bite and shreds of something like beet greens. After the waitress forgot to ask how I wanted them cooked, she was sent back by the kitchen with the query. The roasted potato slices I chose to go with it were a perfect complement, with their unusual vinegar tang. But the cold beets, neither marinated nor in a sauce, were bland and left unfinished by the two of us who chose them.

Stone Bridge offers an array of more than a dozen desserts, from the omni-present chocolate mousse and tiramisu, to bananas Foster with ice cream and Bavarian short cake. We all tasted the creme brulée ($4.75). The women at the table liked it, but us sourpuss guys found it too sweet, even without the extra-thick layer of caramelized sugar on top. But all of us agreed that the yummy honey-soaked baklava ($1.50) was a keeper. I was going to have just one bite, but my fork kept returning again and again 'til it was all gone.

The amiable chef Nick chatted with us a bit after dinner, and one moment in the conversation was especially telling. Johnnie had changed her order from the scallops sautéed with pancetta, and his sympathy verged on lamentation when, in describing what she was missing, he riffed on how the flavor of the Italian bacon permeates the seafood. As cheerful a cook as ever grilled a sausage, Nick loves to feed folks, and it shows in Stone Bridge's generous portions and wide selection. Since he doesn't serve breakfast in this incarnation of his restaurant, he's no longer working 90-hour weeks. Now that he's able to relax, maybe Nick can begin to enjoy the view along with us.

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