2011-12-22 / Front Page

Jamestown Fish opening this week


Matthew MacCartney, Heliovaldo Araujo, Cathy Squires and John Recca of Jamestown Fish. Not pictured is Keith Omarra. 
PHOTO BY JEFF MCDONOUGH Matthew MacCartney, Heliovaldo Araujo, Cathy Squires and John Recca of Jamestown Fish. Not pictured is Keith Omarra. PHOTO BY JEFF MCDONOUGH The partners at the island’s newest restaurant, Jamestown Fish, this week are taking the wraps off of their creation as they open the doors to an anxious and curious public.

“We are opening for reservations,” John Recca said proudly on Tuesday during a tour of the restaurant. Jamestown

Fish has hosted several private parties over the past week as the chefs and the staff have worked to sort out the new kitchen and menus.

Establishing a restaurant of the caliber planned for Jamestown Fish is an achievement that has been many months in the making.

The partners purchased the property on Narragansett Avenue in late April. The building was gutted and a brand new, state-of-the-art restaurant was built from the ground up. No detail has been left wanting.

The venture is backed by a local investor group and includes partners Recca and Cathy Squires, a husband and wife team who own the Narragansett Café. They are joined by a third partner, Matthew MacCartney, who will serve as the executive chef.

Heliovaldo Araujo and Keith Omarra, both long-time veterans of the restaurant business, are the sous chefs. Three of the waitstaff are Jamestown residents.

MacCartney said he hesitates to put a label on the food that will be offered from the kitchen of Jamestown Fish. “European-inspired American, casu- ally elegant,” he said. “We will create our own identity and let the food be the best it can be.”

“Obviously, the word ‘fish’ is in our name, but we will be so much more than that,” he said. “We will have some of the best meat – lamb, beef and pork.

“The menu will constantly be changing, depending on what’s available, what’s in season,” Mac- Cartney added. “We will make everything as good as possible with the best possible local ingredients that are as fresh as possible. We’re not going to make a big deal out of it, but our food will be local when it can be because it is the freshest.”

Everything is so fresh, that the only thing in the kitchen that is frozen is the ice cream, MacCartney said. Even the ice cream will be made at the restaurant.

Recca said Jamestown Fish has three separate personalities. There is the main dining room with its casually elegant upscale dining. The upstairs Bridge Bar, with a clubby atmosphere and a spectacular view of the Newport Pell Bridge, which features a small plate menu. And the outside, the summer venue with a deck oven that will feature a broader menu selection.

There is a fourth area, a private dining room which seats eight.

Recca said the main dining room will seat 44, the bar will seat 20 and the outside will seat 70 diners.

MacCartney is a celebrated restauranteur with an impressive resume with experience from the front to the back of dining facilities. He has worked at some of the world’s leading dining establishments, both in the United States and overseas, and has trained alongside several leading chefs. He also holds a diploma from the Wine & Spirit Education Trust, a British designation that takes years to achieve.

“We have the world to choose from,” MacCartney said in describing his wine selections, which will change weekly. “We want to be known for our wines.”

Jamestown Fish will also have a fine selection of beers, he added.

Both MacCartney and Recca stressed that Jamestown Fish will be priced in line with restaurants of the same caliber in the region. The food will be healthily portioned, they added.

“This is about intense flavors,” MacCartney said. “It’s about availability not about volume.”

Dining at Jamestown Fish will be an experience, MacCartney said. “Things will happen for you. People will notice the finer points of dining. I want the staff to anticipate your needs before you ask.”

Jamestown Fish is importing its own olive oil, which will also be offered for sale to patrons, Mac- Cartney said. A special bread is baked for Jamestown Fish by Provencal Bakery of Newport.

Squires pointed out that much of the renovation work at Jamestown Fish was done by local contractors – from the rough carpentry to the fine finish and tile work to the electrical – and thanked them for their efforts.

The kitchen is all brand new, Squires added, with state-of-theart equipment. From the induction burner that will boil water in 20 seconds, to the high-tech watersaving dish rinse and washing system, the kitchen is a chef’s dream.

The partners have great plans for Jamestown Fish. There’s talk of special wine tastings and even tea tastings. But those are events for the future.

This week, Jamestown Fish is welcoming islanders to try its fare and see what the fuss has been all about.

Jamestown Fish will be open for dinner Wednesdays through Sundays. To make a reservation, call 423-3474.

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