Laura’s Bar and Grill
If you’re from Smithfield, Rhode Island, you probably know Laura.
“I’ve lived in Smithfield, Rhode Island my whole entire life. I was born and raised here. So I know just about everybody. And now I own a restaurant in the same town. It’s great. I love Smithfield. And this is where my heart is.”
And there’s a whole lot of heart at Laura’s Bar and Grill.
Located in this big busy spot, Laura’s Bar and Grill is the brainchild of hometown hero Laura Dunlea and her doting husband Jay.
“I married the hometown girl. She’s the girl and I go in the supermarket. I don’t know who I’m talking to. They said oh, you’re Laura’s husband. No, I’m Jay. Nice to meet you.”
The two met in college, where Laura was studying while also working in restaurants.
“I started out working in a restaurant and kind of never gave it up. I went to college for business, but never really knew kind of what I wanted to do. I realized that I really loved the industry, and I stayed with it.”
And it’s a good thing she did, because she and Jay have created a fun place serving creative comfort foods in a laid back atmosphere.
“Our motto here it’s eat, drink, be family. That’s how we want our atmosphere to be whether you’re an employee or a customer, we just want everyone to feel welcome and like their family.”
Once you’re seated at Laura’s, a creative cocktail is in order, with over the top options like this PB&J Old Fashioned or the nostalgic S’mores Martini.
From there it’s all about serious comfort food with shareable apps like Buffalo Chicken Dip served with hot tortilla chips and Tater Tots smothered with all the good stuff.
“I love loaded tots. I love anything. carbs, potatoes. I love how they have the bacon and the cheese on them. And then you dip them in the sour cream. They’re amazing.”
But if you ask Laura, the perfect appetizer to share is the Street Corn Nachos.
“I love street corn if there’s street corn on the menu I eat it. The Mexican street corn nachos are a big pile of tortilla chips and with different melted cheeses and red peppers and fresh corn. They’re just delicious.”
Other starters include a trio of Hot Honey Chicken Sliders with pickles and Ranch…
And piping hot Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls.
“Our Philly Cheesesteak eggrolls are delicious. They have shaved steak in them and blended cheeses and mushrooms and onions. We have a Chipotle dipping sauce. It’s a mini steak and cheese sandwich in an egg roll and they’re amazing.”
If you want to get some true Rhode Island favorites, Laura’s offers Homemade Stuffies.
“My whole life, I’ve loved stuffies. They’re a Rhode Island thing. We use hot Italian sausage and clams. They’re served in a stuffy shell. If you like seafood, I think that you definitely need to try a stuffie.”
And for some big Rhode Island flavor, try the Little Rhody Flatbread.
“The Little Rhody Flatbread is basically a hot wiener on a flatbread. It’s a hot wiener with seasoned beef and diced onions, celery, salt, mustard. Not everybody that comes to us from Rhode Island. They’re kind of confused by it. So if you do come and check it out, it’s one of our staples.”
For a staple that’s good for you AND the community, try the Laura Wrap- a sandwich created by Laura, for Laura, that’s become a customer favorite as well.
“She used to work morning, noon and night. And she kind of made her own wrap. And it had all the things she likes, peppers and balsamic and chicken. And so she ended up calling the Laura’s Wrap. And then one person ordered it. Next person ordered it. And before you knew it, we had the Laura’s wrap”
“50 cents from that sandwich goes towards our scholarship funds I just think it’s really important, you know, to be involved in the community.”
The comfort food continues right through the entree section of Laura’s menu.
With big bowls of Lobster Mac and Cheese. Tender marinated steak tips presented over fried rice and hearty bowls of Short Rib Ramen. But it’s the Loaded Mashed Potato Bowl that’s ultimate comfort dish.
“I used to go to KFC and I loved getting a loaded mashed potato bowl. So one day it was like hey, let’s check it out and see if we can do it. It’s just fresh mashed potatoes with popcorn chicken cheddar cheese, corn, fresh corn and brown gravy. It’s like home cooking. It’s comfort food.”
When it comes to desserts at Laura’s, the woman you need to know is actually Sarah Gillis.
“Our pastry chef, is phenomenal.She’s so creative. She’s so passionate. She’s so amazing at what she does. “
And while Sarah is always coming up with creative specials you can find on Laura’s instagram page, the dessert you MUST try is the Peanut Butter Cheesecake.
“It’s a fudge brownie topped with a peanut butter cheesecake topped with chocolate mousse. And it gets chopped peanut butter cups. And it also gets a homemade peanut butter cup.. And that goes on top and then I put cream and all that good stuff on there. That’s the big favorite here. You’re gonna keep coming back here just for that.”
And with food, mood and an attitude like Laura, it’s no wonder customers keep coming back to Laura’s Bar and Grill.