Pop-up restaurants are where chefs can temporarily set up shop just about anywhere — including empty parking lots, bookstores, and dining rooms. It’s a chance for diners to have a more intimate dinner where there’s a limited audience, and cooks can be spontaneous or offer niche menus that cater to their audience.
Most of the new-age chefs around Rhode Island — and elsewhere — are advertising for these events on Instagram. In December, in the middle of holiday parties and family get-togethers, here are a few pop-up restaurants around Rhode Island to try.
PIZZA, PIZZA, PIZZA
Shea Vaccaro recently launched Neapolitan-style pizza pop up Pizzeria Vaccaro this year, where they’re serving delicious pies with toppings from local farms — like butternut squash from Wishing Stone in Little Compton and mozzarella from Narragansett Creamery. Vaccaro has worked across the industry — from an organic cafe on the first community-supported agriculture [CSA] farm in the country, to working in restaurants in Los Angeles.
What they’ll be serving: Shea will be serving a menu of specialty pizzas such as the “La Foresta,” which has baby bella mushrooms, pesto, pecorino, and mozzarella. The “Il Pastore” has ground lamb, red pepper sauce, caramelized onions, mint tzatziki, and hot honey. There will also be some classics to order from, like margarita, marinara, and alla vodka pies. Here’s the full menu.
Specifics: Monday, Dec. 4, from 2 to 8 p.m. at Rise Strength Gym at 1205 Westminster St. in Providence.
SMASH BURGERS AND BEER
Prior to leading the kitchen at Sport and Leisure where he’s cooking leveled-up comfort food, Kenneth A. Pates previously was the chef and co-owner of the now-closed burger joint Bun Fun on Federal Hill. Pates, who is a member of the Narragansett Tribe, has reawakened his smash burger concept as a pop-up, and potentially has plans to expand and open a food truck in the future.
What they’ll be serving: Smash burgers, loaded fries, and lots of beer from Narragansett Brewery.
Specifics: Monday, Dec. 4 and Tuesday, Dec. 5 starting at 5 p.m. (and will go until they are sold out) at Narragansett Brewery in Providence (271 Tockwotton St.). Check Bun Fun’s Instagram for updates.
SUNDAYS WITH THE CHEF FROM PROVIDENCE’S BELOVED NORTH (RIP)
Chefs Andrew McQuesten, who previously led the kitchen of the now-shuttered North restaurant, and Stephen Sternkopf are planning a few pop-ups under the name “Little Friend.” His pop-up kitchen series has hosted meals at various spots around the state, and is planning a ticketed dinner at arc(hive) book and snackery in Warren as part of the store’s Second Sunday Suppers series.
What they’ll be serving: McQuesten and Sternkopf will be preparing raw fluke with pickled corn and hazelnut; a kale salad with apples and charred celeriac; a grilled squid and pumpkin hummus flatbread with arugula tabouli; roasted chicken with caramelized leeks; and a sweet potato pie with Asian pear semifreddo. There is a bar, but alcohol is not included in the price of the ticket.
Bonus event: Little Friend is also popping up with Little Moss in Dartmouth, Mass., on Sunday, Dec. 17. It’s going to be a joint dinner where each team will prepare three courses. Tickets are $85 per person, and you’ll be able to add an optional drink pairing for $45 per person. Reservations will be available on Tock.
A LEGENDARY BAR TAKEOVER
Leaders from two stellar New England restaurants are coming together this month. Alyssa DiPasquale, the founder of the Koji Club in Brighton, is taking over the bar at Gift Horse on Dec. 11. The Koji Club is Boston’s first bar dedicated to sake that serves a menu of snacks that’s designed to complement the sake — from sweet and sticky yumepirika rice from Hokkaido served with umeboshi and cucumber pickles, to a cheese board of aged Gouda and Taleggio.
Gift Horse is owned by Ben Sukle (also the owner of neighboring and award-winning Oberlin) and sommelier Bethany Caliaro. The raw bar broke out on Rhode Island’s restaurant scene earlier this year with a big splash. Their creative menu features hard-to-find oysters that are exclusively from Rhode Island’s waters, and delicious crudo plates. Chef Haneul “Sky” Kim also brings her Korean background to the kitchen to carve out her own category of “comfort” seafood.
What they’ll be serving: Expect creative dishes from chef Kim and fun sake from DiPasquale. Go in with an open mind, and be ready to learn about sake purveyors.
Specifics: Monday, Dec. 11, when Gift Horse opens at 4 p.m. and until they close (which is usually around midnight).
Know of a great pop-up restaurant in Rhode Island coming up? Send the details to firstname.lastname@example.org.