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Sergio's Italian Ristorante (CLOSED)

1814 Boston Neck Road, Saunderstown, RI 02874
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Photo of Sergio's Italian Ristorante, Saunderstown, RI You would think that a restaurant situated near four seaside resort communities in Rhode Island would be a well-known place. Indeed, the fact that Sergio's Italian Ristorante is located just south of Wickford, just north of Narragansett, and just west of Jamestown and Newport would make it a popular stop. Yet it doesn't seem very well known, possibly because so many visitors to this beautiful section of the state choose to dine within these four cities and towns, perhaps assuming that there are few decent dining spots outside of them. Add to that the fact that Sergio's is easy to miss (on the edge of a bridge above Route 138) and you have your quintessential hidden gem, and a very good one at that.

Sergio's Italian Ristorante has the look of a classic roadside family restaurant from the outside, which is basically what it is; both the inside and outside dining areas are perfect places for large groups of all age ranges, with a decent amount of room throughout. The interior consists of a bar on the left, a somewhat noisy but pleasant dining area with booths and tables on the right, and an open kitchen in the back. The outdoor deck is accessed from the back area by the kitchen, and it is an appealing spot for both food and drink, as it has a number of tables, a second bar area, a working fountain toward the back, and various plants (including tomato and basil) growing on the edge of the deck, depending on the season.

The cuisine at Sergio's leans mostly toward Southern Italian, with a number of homemade pasta dishes featured as well as plenty of veal, chicken, steak, and seafood entrees. Some interesting appetizers can be found on the menu, including a delightful plate of stuffed Italian peppers filled with salty capers, rich-tasting pancetta, meaty black olives, and tangy parmesan cheese. Several soup and salad options are also available, including a snail salad, which is a dish that seems to be a bit more popular in Rhode Island than in other parts of New England. Entrees include a wonderful plate of homemade agnellotti (half-moon) pastas that are filled with spinach and several cheeses and can be ordered with such sauces as pesto, alfredo, or vodka. Another excellent dish at Sergio's is the chicken rollatini that comes stuffed with savory prosciutto, a mild and nutty-tasting fontina cheese, and Italian herbs. Desserts include a few options such as a mouthwatering homemade tiramisu that has a rich mix of espresso and cocoa flavors. The drink list at Sergio's is varied and at times eclectic, with a tiramisu martini being one of the most unusual offerings.

While it isn't on the water and it doesn't have the curb appeal of some of the other restaurants found in this part of coastal Rhode Island, Sergio's Italian Ristorante is most definitely a place to go if you like good Italian food at prices that won't put a dent in your wallet. And because it is mostly a local hangout, Sergio's can be a refreshing change of pace to the trendy, crowded spots found in Newport and the other tourist-heavy communities in the area. Keep this place in mind the next time you find yourself in the Narragansett Bay region south of Providence; it may be a little out of the way, but it is surely worth checking out, in our opinion.