The economic downturn is such that we may eventually see pirate ships showing off the Jolly Roger around Narragansett Bay. When they do, you can bet that their favorite place to unwind after a long day Yo-ho-ho-ing will be a friendly fisherman's bar and restaurant on a quiet road off the main strip in Galilee.
The Pirate Girl looks so innocent that at first you might imagine a long line of unconscious customers being Shanghaied out back. But only fishing boats bob along an adjoining pier. The bait-bucket aroma of Galilee proper was minimal or not in evidence on a couple of visits. Colorful pennants flap along a second-floor deck, above a sign offering whale watching tours. On that railing, there's the Stars & Stripes on one side and a lobster flag on the other, bracketing an inflatable pirate (weeks at sea, hours on watch; probably a sailor sex toy).
ON THE TOWN Heads up for the 2nd Annual Savor Providence event on Saturday, August 29 from 11 am to 3 pm. The benefit for Trinity Repertory Company offers 10 "tastes" at area restaurants for $35, from signature dishes to classic cocktails. Purchase by phone at 401.351.4242.
Upstairs, it's spacious inside. But we figured we'd have easier conversation on the quieter deck, where plastic tablecloths sporting lobs and cobs strike a friendly tone.
Until May, a restaurant named Port o' Call had been there, and before that Finback's. Helming the kitchen is Conrad Schocoda, a veteran of other restaurants around here. The back of the menu explains that the place is now owned by Capt. Norbert Stamps, skipper of the Debbie Ann and owner of the Timberwolf. His wife Patty, who used to run a Westerly fish market, manages the restaurant. The right-off-the-boat proximity gives a freshness and price advantage that hopefully assures Pirate Girl longevity.
The cutlass-wielding babe swinging from the rigging on the menu cover seemed to be enjoying herself. We started out with a few appetizers to calibrate our expectations. First a half-dozen clam cakes ($3.99): flavorful, if denser than some I've had. Then what they brag are "Homemade Ultimate Stuffies" ($6.99). The two generous mounds towering above their quahog shells are described as Portuguese-style, which means bolstered with chourizo, and plenty of it. They were also more moist than I've ever had them, which worked fine with me. We also ordered steamers, a special that night at $9.99. There were well over a pound, unusually prepared in a thickish, olive-oiled sauce with onions and sliced garlic. That made them tasty, but instead of broth in which to clean them there was a cup of more sauce to dip them into before dipping into melted butter. As a result, they couldn't be rinsed of grit. Bummer.
The Point Judith swordfish that Johnnie dug into was not only delicious — "the best," she announced — but also cheap ($12.99). It was fresh, moist, and smoky from the grill, served with corn on the cob and creamy skin-on mashed potatoes. Sabrina's lobster roll ($14.99) was also cheaper than usual around here, while also being sizable and composed of big chunks rather than mashed up like tuna salad. The accompanying french fries were bountiful. Her hubby Stefan was up for lobster, and while a steamed one was on the marker board downstairs at $12.99, twins were only $19.99, so twins it was. They looked like 1-1/4-pounders and were cooked just right, leaving them moist and tender.
When I noticed that their mac & cheese ($7.99) was beefed up with lobster, I was tempted to get it as a side. But I wanted to try their linguine with clam sauce ($14.99), so no. I chose white sauce, of course, to let the clams more easily come through, and was quite pleased. Five in-shell littlenecks surrounded the al dente pasta, with chopped clams mixed in and more heaped on top, buttery when one might expect just broth and white wine. If pastry chefs can suck up to us with butterfat, why not seafood chefs?
None of us was up for deep-fried seafood, although whole-belly clams always tempt me. Next time, if my hunger dial is at 11, I'll probably go for the Pirate Girl's signature fried platter ($21.99) — fillet, scallops, shrimp, and calamari as well as clams. I'll wait until my grumbling stomach sounds like it's going Arrrgh!