Ted Torti celebrated his third anniversary at his establishment at 1145 Park Ave. in the heart of Cranston. After three years of hard work, Ted was able to buy the building, make extensive improvements, add air conditioning, and change the image from “a bar with a restaurant” to “a restaurant with a bar.”
Joyce and I had stopped in a couple of years ago to try Ted’s original seafood stuffies, an appetizer that added shrimp and scallops to his homemade Ritz cracker stuffing. And yes, they were as good as friends had told us.
Ted’s partner and part-time bartender, Julie Meisler, told us about the many improvements he has made and more plans for the future.
“Ted thinks of his Stadium Kitchen and Pub as more than just a watering hole,” she said. “We have an area in back of the bar with seating for 50 people, and we encourage families. Kids eat free on Tuesdays.”
The horseshoe-shaped bar seats another 30. We sat at the bar last week and watched Julie greet everyone who came through the door by name. We sat next to John, who told us “the food is as good here as any high-end restaurant in the state. And nobody’s paying me to say that.”
Lisa chipped in from the other end of the bar: “I haven’t had a bad meal in three years. My husband and I live five minutes away.”
Mary added her two cents to the conversation: “As a single woman, this is the only place I feel comfortable coming in alone.”
OK, we get it. Ted’s is the closest thing to Cheers in Rhode Island. And if you are there for the first time, you will still be greeted warmly.
Let’s get to the food. Ted is one heck of a chef, operating in a tiny, one-person kitchen while creating meals that have the presentation of a high class, expensive restaurant – at half the price or even less. The menu includes appetizers, salads, pizzas, pasta, soup, sandwiches and incredible burgers made from beef that Ted grinds in-house.
And then there’s the chalkboard, with three or more items made with fresh ingredients that Ted has purchased on his way in that morning.
Crispy Shrimp (7 large shrimp at $10) beckoned to Joyce, who shared unevenly with me. The plate was garnished with greens and carrot slices and included Ted’s homemade tangy dipping sauce. All the sauces and dressings are made in that little kitchen. She also enjoyed a huge house salad ($6) with mesclun greens, onions, tomatoes, carrots, cucumbers, croutons and homemade balsamic vinaigrette.
Ted had bought fresh salmon that morning, so I benefited by ordering a salmon BLT with a large salmon filet, perfectly cooked, applewood smoked bacon, lettuce and tomato on a grilled ciabatta roll, with crispy French fries topped with Parmesan cheese ($11).
Joyce enjoyed the Stadium Burger, a big seller, according to Julie ($12). Freshly ground chuck, applewood smoked bacon, blue cheese, cabernet jam, mayo and pickles on a brioche bun, cooked rare as requested and as tasty as could be.
Ted was cooking up some corn chowder and brought small tastes to the bar, causing one customer to order a bowl to go. Whether eating at the bar, the restaurant tables or ordering to go, you’ll find the food always fresh and cooked to order.
Julie said that they are getting many requests for the back room, which is perfect for birthday parties, bereavement gatherings and meetings. They also cater. There is entertainment on weekends, usually a solo or duet acoustic, complementing the laid back, intimate atmosphere.
Ted’s Stadium Kitchen and Pub is open seven days a week from 11:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. The kitchen closes at 10 p.m. Call 278-3884 for takeout or more information.