Of Food and Books: An East Bay Love Story

One of the nicest things about having moved away from Rhode Island only to come back is discovering all the wonderful changes that took place while I was away — as well as the things that have remained the same.

Like the food. Oh, man. Can we just talk about the food for a minute?

Vienna Bakery, where my Nana used to take me for after-school treats, remains as I remember it. My new office is in dangerous proximity to my favorite raspberry bars.

Tav-Vino still has #location and a specials list as long as the existing menu, and Blount’s still rocking the chowdah and clam cakes, but countless other tasty options have sprung up around them.

I’m having the kind of rekindled love affair with East Bay where I go to Leon’s to nosh on the salmon scramble, or to Eli’s to stuff my face with that heavenly avocado and egg sandwich, or to Chomp for grilled cheese and ‘frickles,’ or to Square Peg for THE fish tacos, or to Bluewater for pretty much anything, then I try to zip my jeans and I’m all, “What??? Must be middle age…”

My waistline aside, it’s not ALL about food.

If you’re familiar with Warren, you’re familiar with the Tavares Building — though maybe not by name. Originally the Goff Hotel, and now a mix of residential and commercial spaces, its distinct facade has long been an integral part of Main Street. The Made in Warren shop has occupied one of the retail spaces on the first level almost as long as MBA Realty Group (my peeps!) has managed the property. I was thankful to find that didn’t change in my absence.

Goff Hotel Circa 1903

When I learned that the retail space on the Joyce Street corner was going to be occupied by a book shop? I didn’t think it could get any better.

But.

Wait for it…

Ink Fish Books was conceived, in part, as a way for proprietor Lisa Valentino to bring her love of books and cooking together, and share the result with her community of 32 years. She teamed up with the foodies at Hope and Main to pair local products with cookbooks and culinary tools.

And yes, you can pick up a bestseller there, too, or a book by a local author (I’m currently enjoying Tenemental by Vikki Warner). You can find children’s books and poetry. You can bring your coffee and sit at the window front bar to browse.

Seeing this space transformed into something so thoughtfully put together for the community’s enjoyment is just plain awesome. Books, like food, are best when shared. I think it’s no accident that so many culinary and literary and creative businesses are springing up in East Bay. There’s beauty all around here, from the Bay to the architecture to the oft-quirky people. That’s bound to be inspiring.

And just to circle back to food (because when is that ever not a good idea?), the last open commercial space in the Tavares Building has now become the home of The Perfect Sweet Macarons.

I might as well just buy the bigger jeans now.