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Romantic Dining in Newport

Archive for December, 2010

Romantic Dining in Newport

December 16th, 2010 by billfarrell

One of our favorite settings for a nice romantic evening is Sardella’s Restaurant, a lovely Italian restaurant on Memorial Boulevard. They have several nice rooms that are intimate and tastefully decorated. Every Wednesday evening, the restaurant offers live jazz from solo piano to jazz vocals and spirited trios. The intimate nature of their dining room offers all patrons (including our bar guests) a ringside seat. And always without a cover charge. During the color month you can enjoy a cocktail at their bar by the wood burning stove. The food is outstanding and their garlic bread is the best I’ve had in Newport. For all you Tiramisu lovers, I’m posting one of Richard Sardellas recipes below.

You can visit Sardella’s website at

Richard’s famous
Christmas TIRAMISU


  • EGG YOLKS, 6
  • SUGAR, 3/4 cup
  • MASCARPONE CHEESE, 1 pound, softened
  • HEAVY CREAM, 2 cups chilled
  • RUM, 2 tablespoons
  • VANILLA EXTRACT, 1 teaspoon
  • ESPRESSO, 2 tablespoons, plus 2 to 3 cups brewed
  • LADYFINGERS, 40 to 50
  • Crumbled Pepperidge Farm Chocolate Chunk cookies


  1. In a mixing bowl set over but not touching a pan of simmering water, beat the egg yolks and sugar until the mixture is pale yellow and thick ribbons fall from the whisk (4 to 5 minutes).
  2. Transfer the mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer.
  3. Add the mascarpone cheese and beat until smooth and creamy (2 to 3 minutes).
  4. In a chilled large mixing bowl, beat the cream to stiff peaks.
  5. Add the crumbled Pepperidge farm chocolate chunk cookies, the rum, vanilla and the 2 tablespoons of espresso and beat until smooth.
  6. In a clean mixing bowl, beat the egg whites to stiff peaks (when the whisk is lifted straight out of the bowl and inverted, the whites should hold their shape).
  7. With a rubber spatula, gently fold the mascarpone mixture into the cream until blended and smooth.
  8. Add about 1 cup of the beaten egg whites and fold gently until blended.
  9. Add the remaining egg whites and fold gently until the mixture is smooth and blended.
  10. One at a time, submerge each ladyfinger into the remaining espresso, then it on the bottom of a 6-quart glass or ceramic baking or serving dish (about 2 inches deep).
  11. Continue to form a complete layer.
  12. Spread half of the mascarpone mixture over the soaked ladyfingers until evenly covered.
  13. Arrange another layer of soaked ladyfingers over the mascarpone cream, then spread the remaining mascarpone cream evenly over the top.
  14. Dust the Tiramisu with cocoa powder to create a rich, dark topping.
  15. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or up to 1 day before serving.

Newport could be back in the Americas Cup Race

December 16th, 2010 by billfarrell

By ALex Kuffner Journal Staff Writer

Five months after Newport learned it had lost the race to host the next America’s Cup, the City by the Sea may have gained a second chance.

With ratification of an agreement between San Francisco and the Golden Gate Yacht Club threatened, a member of the GGYC’s board of directors was set to travel to Rhode Island to meet this week with Keith Stokes, executive director of the state Economic Development Corporation, to talk about whether Newport could step in to host the prestigious yachting race.

Stokes told The Providence Journal on Sunday that he would talk with the board member, Tom Ehman, who is also head of external affairs for America’s Cup champion BMW Oracle Racing, on Monday to set up a meeting.

“BMW Oracle reached out to us to reopen discussions,” Stokes said.

Rhode Island submitted a proposal on Dec. 8 to host qualifying races for the Cup, but the talks this week will focus on the final Cup series.

“They asked, ‘Could Rhode Island provide the proper amenities for not only the championship races, but also the final events?’ ” Stokes said. “Which we absolutely can do.”

Stokes said that by Dec. 20 the America’s Cup Rhode Island 2013 Planning Committee would select an engineering firm to design improvements at Fort Adams State Park so it could host the qualifying races. Those improvements could be done quickly, he said.

“Most of our facilities are in place,” he said. “Our improvements are nowhere near the scale and cost of San Francisco’s. And being such a small, compact state, we not only have a history here, but we can also ensure a streamlined build-out process.”

America’s Cup official Stephen Barclay said he considered San Francisco to have come up with the winning bid in early November, when city officials and the yacht club negotiated an agreement that was then sent to the Board of Supervisors to begin the approval process.

But he said the Port Commission recently changed key points in the agreement that would put too much of a financial risk on the America’s Cup Event Authority, which has been contracted by the GGYC to run the regatta.

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors’ Budget and Finance Committee will hold a final hearing Monday, and the full board is expected to vote on the agreement Tuesday. “They’re holding on by their fingernails at the moment,” Barclay told The Associated Press on Saturday from his home in Auckland, New Zealand. “It was theirs to lose and they were told that.”

In a letter sent to Mayor Gavin Newsom and other city officials on Saturday, the GGYC said San Francisco would lose the right to host the next Cup races if a deal is not signed by this coming Friday. Barclay said the GGYC — which sponsors BMW Oracle Racing — set the deadline because the America’s Cup Event Authority is committed to informing participating teams of the venue choice by Dec. 31.

BMW Oracle Racing swept Alinghi of Switzerland in two races off Valencia, Spain, in February to return the oldest trophy in international sports to the United States for the first time since 1995.

San Francisco officials have estimated that hosting the America’s Cup would be worth $1.4 billion in economic benefits and create 8,000 jobs.

Barclay said the GGYC has reopened talks with Italy to hold the America’s Cup in 2013. He also said that Ehman was set to reopen negotiations with officials in Newport. Ehman also is a member of the New York Yacht Club, which defended the America’s Cup in Newport from 1930 until 1983, when Dennis Conner was beaten by Australia.

Barclay is chief operating officer of BMW Oracle Racing and a member of the GGYC’s America’s Cup Committee. BMW Oracle Racing is owned by software billionaire Larry Ellison, whose Oracle Corp. is based in Redwood City, south of San Francisco. Ellison also owns a mansion in Newport.

Italy is in the mix because Club Nautico di Roma is the Challenger of Record, which represents the interests of all challengers.

There might even be a third option. BMW Oracle Racing officials are said to have remained in the United Arab Emirates following the recent Louis Vuitton Trophy regatta, perhaps to initiate talks about the America’s Cup being sailed in the Middle East. Mayor Newsom’s spokesman, Tony Winnicker, confirmed receipt of the letter from Barclay.

With reports from Associated Press

Newport show highlights Gilbert Stuart, and friends

December 10th, 2010 by billfarrell

NEWPORT, R.I. — Somewhere, Gilbert Stuart must be smiling.

by Bill Van Siclen, Providence Journal Arts Writer

Not only did the man who gave us iconic portraits of George Washington and other Colonial-era luminaries recently celebrate another birthday (his 255th, on Dec. 3), but his work is the focus of “Gilbert Stuart and His Times,” a sparkling new exhibit at William Vareika Fine Arts.

Indeed, the show, which has been handsomely installed on the gallery’s second floor, amounts to a kind of mini-survey of early American art: In addition to Stuart, visitors will find paintings by his daughter, Jane Stuart, his onetime mentor, Benjamin West, and the man whose success may have inspired Stuart to pursue a painting career in the first place: John Singleton Copley.

The gallery is down the street from the Tennis Hall of Fame.

Other highlights include works by Thomas Sully, a British-born artist who also painted several portraits of Washington; John Smibert, a Scottish painter who was active in Newport during the Colonial period; and Charles Willson Peale, a Philadelphia painter and the founder (along with his sons Rembrandt, Rubens and Raphaelle Peale) of one of the great family dynasties in American art.

The result is an exhibit that many museums might envy. Yet as gallery owner Bill Vareika explained during a recent visit, the show began as something far more modest.

“Basically, it just sort of snowballed,” Vareika said. “At first, the idea was to do a small show focusing mainly on Gilbert but with a few supporting works from some of his close contemporaries. But as sometimes happens in this business, once we started it was hard to stop.”

This Gilbert Stuart oil painting is of Rebecca White Pickering, the wife of Col. Timothy Pickering, who served in President Washington’s Cabinet.

Vareika, of course, has done this sort of thing before. In fact, over the past few years, his Bellevue Avenue gallery has hosted a number of museum-worthy exhibits, including shows devoted to the 19th-century artist-designer John LaFarge and Newport painter William Trost Richards.

Those efforts, in turn, have made it easier for Vareika to borrow artworks that might otherwise remain locked away in private collections or inside museum storerooms. In the Stuart show, the loans include a handsome portrait of Abraham Touro, on loan from Newport’s Touro Synagogue, and a rare portrait bust of Stuart himself owned by the Newport Historical Society.

The Society also lent what is thought to be Stuart’s earliest known artwork — a pencil sketch of a young boy, presumably one of Stuart’s friends, made on a wood shingle.

In all, the show boasts about 75 artworks, ranging from small sketchbook drawings to large-scale landscapes and historical scenes. According to Vareika, roughly half the works are for sale, with the remainder on loan from a variety of public and private collections. (By the way, a percentage of each sale will go to a worthy cause: the Gilbert Stuart Birthplace and Museum in Saunderstown.)

At the same time, Vareika concedes that his gallery is no match for the New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, which organized a major Stuart exhibition in 2005, or Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts, which affords Stuart a prominent place in its new Art of the Americas Wing.

Opposite is Stuart’s portrait of Abraham Touro, a Newport merchant, shipbuilder and philanthropist who was the son of the first rabbi of Touro Synagogue.

Instead, “Gilbert Stuart and His Times” offers something else — a quick but satisfying glimpse of Stuart the man and the artist, together with cameo appearances by some of his contemporaries, both famous and forgotten. Indeed, while many of Stuart’s most famous paintings are already in major museum collections, his skills as a portraitist are apparent even in relatively minor works.

A gifted raconteur, Stuart had a knack for putting his sitters at ease — a trait that’s evident in a circa-1816 portrait of Rebecca White Pickering, wife of Revolutionary War hero Col. Timothy Pickering. Sporting a white-lace cap and matching collar, the British-born Pickering manages to look both dignified and down-to-earth — the kind of woman you might meet in a Jane Austen novel.

Other works, including portraits of Harvard University president the Rev. John Thornton Kirkland and Newport businessman George Gibbs, show off the paint-handling skills Stuart learned in London, where he apprenticed with the expatriate American painter Benjamin West.

No Stuart show, of course, would be complete without a portrait of another George — George Washington. After all, Stuart painted the definitive portraits of the first president, including the so-called “Athenaeum Portrait” which appears on the U.S. one-dollar bill.

Don’t bother looking for any of those paintings here. However, you will find one of the few portraits of Washington painted directly from life; it’s by James Sharples, an English portraitist who was famous for using a special device, known as a “physiognotrace,” to create an exact outline of a sitter’s face. The result: Sharples’ Washington has broader (though presumably accurate) features than most of us are used to seeing.

After Stuart’s death in 1828, his daughter, Jane, carried on the family’s painting tradition. For the most part, that meant cranking out copies of her father’s Washington portraits. But on the rare occasions when she ventured out on her own, Jane Stuart proved to be a better-than-average painter in her own right.

A case in point: a charming painting of a cherub, his face as rosy as a bowl of Christmas punch, that hangs on the gallery’s back wall.

“Gilbert Stuart and His Times” runs through March 6 at William Vareika Fine Arts, 212 Bellevue Ave. in Newport. For information, call (401) 849-6149 or visit

86 Spring Street, Newport, RI 02840  |  401-849-0004  |  887-294-0004  |