Dining or sipping on a rooftop in Rhode Island continues to be a most exclusive experience. A decade ago it was all but unheard of. Even now there are just a handful of options but they are all something special.
Providence has three public rooftop restaurants and one by membership only. Each one offers a unique view and different experience.
Likewise, a handful of open rooftops in Newport have distinctive atmospheres. Three at hotels and two at restaurants bring either city or water views.
In South County, two restaurants offer rooftop seating, one on Narragansett Bay and one on a pond.
Blu Violet Roof Bar in Providence evokes Miami with fashionable cocktails
The newest rooftop is seven stories up at the new Aloft Providence hotel in the Innovation District, near the pedestrian bridge. The location has it all and the rooftop offers even more.
The Blu Violet Roof Bar serves dinner and weekend brunch Wednesday through Sunday in an ultra modern setting that evokes more Miami than New England. It’s a lovely juxtaposition with the Providence city views that speak to historic buildings.
Fashionable cocktails and an approachable but creative menu serve the space well.
Details: Blu Violet at the Aloft Providence, 191 Dorrance St., Providence, (401) 252-0710, bluvioletroofbar.com.
The Rooftop at the Providence G
The Rooftop at the Providence G was the city’s first, built in 2014, atop the building known as the Providence Gas Company. Built in 1920, the building was renovated into apartments and dining spaces.
A 2016 renovation produced an impressive Rooftop at the ProvidenceG including the addition of a new custom bar. There’s table seating and comfortable chairs grouped around firepits. They are first come first serve but private ones can be reserved with food and drink minimums.
The menu includes a raw bar, a vareity of appetizers, entrees and desserts. There is a theater menu, too.
Because it has protection for the elements, this is an all-season space. And sunset views can be stunning. There is also entertainment and a busy late night scene.
Details: The Rooftop at the Providence G, 100 Dorrance St, Providence, (401) 632-4904, (401) 632-4904, rooftopattheg.com.
Mare Rooftop offers cities views and fine dining
Mare Rooftop opened four stories above Wayland Square in 2018 with city views offering a fine dining menu and atmosphere. No sweatpats and baseball caps here.
It’s a deceptively huge space with two outside decks on either side offering tables, high tops and sofa seating.
There is seating under the roof making this an all-season restaurant. During the winter, heated igloos for small group dining with a special menu added to the space.
The menu includes pizza made in their imported oven, burgers, a raw bar, sandwiches and extensive appetizers and entrees with a Italian bent and one with seafood and meats including Steak Frites.
Details: Mare Rooftop, 229 Waterman St., Providence, (401) 336-6273, marerooftop.com.
The Bellini Rooftop just debuted as Providence’s only private membership rooftop club offering a total experience of exclusivity.
The space is five floors up overlooking Kennedy Plaza, but the views extend as far as the State House dome. Accessible solely to Bellini Rooftop members and guests of The Beatrice, where it is located. Those interested in the membership fill out an online form.
The inside lounge has bar and banquette seating and is stylish in a Miami Beach way that is most pleasing. Outside there’s more seating and heaters where the view exceeds the style.
In both spaces, craft cocktails, not the least of which is the Bellini, and traditional “cicchetti.” These are Venetian-style small plates such as Steak Tartare and Shaved Black Truffle, Zucchine e Melanzane Fritte, Fried Mozzarella in Carrozza and Dressed Lobster with Avocado.
Details: Bellini Providence, 50 Westminster St., Providence, at The Beatrice. Potential members can find forms online at bellinirestaurant.com/providence.
Matunuck Oyster Bar- A rooftop deck with a view
In Wakefield, Matunuck Oyster Bar has rooftop seating overlooking lovely Potter Pond. This restaurant is the real deal. Owner and oyster farmer Perry Raso didn’t know if his restaurant there would succeed. It has thrived
They do take reservations and they will do their best to accomodate a request. But they are unable to guarantee a specific dining location. Details: 629 Succotash Rd., Wakefield, (401) 783-4202, rhodyoysters.com.
The Coast Guard House: Is it a rooftop or a deck?
Is it a rooftop or a deck atop the Coast Guard House? Does it really matter? It gets diners outside to watch the sparkling waters of Narragansett Bay. This iconic restaurant underwent a huge renovation to bring in many levels for dining, all close the water. Details: 40 Ocean Rd., Narragansett, (401) 789-0700, thecoastguardhouse.com.
The Top of Newport serves light bites and signature cocktails
The Top of Newport is a rooftop bar at the Hotel Viking. They serve light bites and craft signature cocktails. It opens for the season on Memorial Day weekend. It feels more like a garden than a rooftop but has plenty of charm.
It’s notable as perhaps the first of all the rooftops in Rhode Island. It opened in 2012 as a summery spot for drinks and light dining. It’s grown to have an event schedule but the pandemic stalled things a bit.
Check in to see what’s planned for this year at hotelviking.com/dining/top-of-newport/ at The Top of Newport at Hotel Viking, 1 Bellevue Ave., Newport, (401) 847-3300.
Unrivaled ocean views at the Roof Deck at the Vanderbilt in Newport.
Nowhere is the view more beautiful than the Roof Deck at the Vanderbilt in Newport. There’s no more to say. It’s just stunning.
This hotel changes ownership, chefs and dining rooms, but the harbor views from the fourth story space remain heart-stopping. The hotel is currently part of the Auberge Resorts Collection and they were just opening the roof at press time.
It’s still likely cocktails and light fare will be served. Check online or call for hours. Details: The Roof Deck at the Vanderbilt, 41 Mary St., Newport, (401) 846-6200, aubergeresorts.com/vanderbilt/dine/
Benjamin’s Raw Bar
Benjamin’s Raw Bar is a neighbo
rhood bar that has a raw bar on the first floor, classic dining on the second and the Crow’s Nest on the third floor.
The open air bar and dining room is meant to resemble the crow’s nest on ship. It has snapshot views of Newport Harbor and is open seasonaly.
Details: 254 Thames St., Newport, (401) 846-8758, benjaminsrawbar.com.
The Rooftop at The Brenton Hotel is the newest spot on this list
The Rooftop at The Brenton Hotel is the newest spot on this list and it offers stunning views of Newport Harbor. It has unobstructed views in three compass directions.
It is located on the sixth floor of the hotel and is open daily at 4 p.m., closing at sunset. For daily seasonal food and beverage offerings, guests should contact the hotel.
The rooftop will open for the season Memorial Day weekend for the public and hotel guests. Details: The Rooftop at Brenton Hotel, 31 America’s Cup Ave., Newport, (401) 849-3100, brentonhotel.com/food-and-drink/
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This article originally appeared on The Providence Journal: Best RI rooftop bars and restaurants in Providence, Newport and more