When a Brown grad and a Johnson & Wales grad team up, anything can happen…like a sports bar with a bocce court and corn hole tournaments…and great food.
After graduating from Brown, Marvin Barksdale went on to earn a law degree and open a number of interesting restaurants in New York City before returning to Providence to create this unique venue. Marvin partnered with J & W grad Dom Hayman, who created a “ball park menu” unlike anything I’ve experienced at McCoy Stadium.
Rec Room PVD operates as a bar/restaurant downstairs from 4 to 10 p.m., when the upstairs opens from 10 p. m. to 1 a.m. Patrons enjoy their sports on large screen TVs, play bocce and serve themselves from self-service beer taps using a pre-paid card. To maintain control, only two beers can be ordered before a bartender personally re-programs the card.
While we’re from Cranston, the Mecca for bocce players, we came for the food. Wings sell for $6 a half-pound or $11 a pound. We had to try all six sauces, so the chef mixed up a special batch for us.
Joyce’s favorite was the Nashville hot, while I enjoyed the Fish Sauce and Garlic. The Rhody Butter tasted like the sauce on calamari, while the Habanero Kimchi was the most interesting taste of all. Rounding out the selection were Curry Coconut and Lemon Pepper. The wings were hot, tasty, perfectly cooked and large.
Joyce wanted the Fried Cauliflower Bites ($6.50), fresh cauliflower tossed in brown butter-sugar and served with a bitter lemon aioli. Not being a cauliflower fan, I decided to be polite and try one. We fought over the rest of the order.
Following the ballpark theme, Rec Room PVD offers a hot dog ($7), burger ($12) and chicken thigh ($8.50) sandwich. The “7-in Stretch” is a RI Beef House Ground Dog, made in-house and topped with pink peppercorn mustard and a Giardineria relish. We tried the Olneyville-Adjacent Dog,” a unique blend of smoked beef and pork, crispy onions, Conspicuous Chili Sauce and Bacon Jam, everything made fresh in the kitchen. It was one of the most unusual combination of tastes I’ve ever had.
I recommend the Parker Burger ($12), a 6 oz. chuck and short rib blend with Gochujang Pimento spread, fried pickle leeks and caramelized garlic-agave sauce. It takes an imaginative mind to come up with these combinations. And they taste great!
Another popular “smaller bite” is bacon on a stick, an acquired taste, frying a house cured belly, dipping it in maple bourbon glaze and adding tomato powder ($5).
Rec Room PVD not only offers specialty foods. Wait until you try their specialty drinks, like mint juleps, the Kentucky Derby favorite or Pimm’s Cup, the Wimbledon cocktail, made with house lemonade, ginger beer, and muddled berries.
Rec Room PVD is located at 383 Admiral St. in Providence, near both Providence College and Rhode Island College. For more information check them out at firstname.lastname@example.org or recroompvd.com. Their phone number is 270-1436.