Newport Food Scene: Sardella's celebrates 43 years of success with prices out of 1980

Forty-three years is a long time. That’s over four decades - a whole quadrennial (plus three). If 43 is your age, it means you're approaching the end of early middle age and moving towards your late middle ages. At 43, you are well-seasoned, but still in your prime. If you are 43, it means that Jimmy Carter was president when you were born. Gas at the time was about $1.19 a gallon (regular or unleaded). Forty-three years ago, Terry Bradshaw was the Super Bowl MVP, Walkman’s were the newest technology and the Fonz was cool-a-mundo. It was a different time.

It was 43 years ago in 1980 that a new Italian restaurant opened up here in Newport on Memorial Boulevard. It was called Sardella’s and it had a menu inspired by owner Richard Sardella’s family roots which came from Italy. With authentic flavors in a cozy setting, Sardella’s soon found itself with a loyal following. And it’s because of that loyal fanbase and their continued dedication to great food and service that they are still around today. They’re the oldest Italian Restaurant in town and with 43 years of service to the community, they are still going strong.

Things changed over the years, as you would expect. They added Imbriglio’s Nepoletana Pizzeria to the restaurant so they could recreate Richard’s grandfather’s pizza recipe in an authentic brick oven. They brought on Chef Kevin Fitzgerald as head chef and he has been with Sardella’s for nearly 20 years leading them to numerous “Best Italian Restaurant” accolades. Apart from the restaurant and in order to serve his community, Richard Sardella would serve on the Newport City Council and as mayor of Newport. But through it all, it’s been their commitment to great food and community that sets them apart.

There’s a coziness to Sardella’s, especially in the winter and cold spring months. A warm fireplace sets the tone. Relaxing music in the background. Welcoming smiles to greet and serve you. There’s a homeyness to the wood tables and brick walls that help you relax. The outside seating is ready for the good weather and its spot on Memorial is perfect for people watching and catching a glimpse of the harbor at the end of the hill.

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But the main star is the food, as it has been since they opened. The menu covers all the items you’d expect from a good Italian restaurant. Their Parmesan, Piccata and Marsala dishes are as good as you’d get on Federal Hill. But there are other offerings that will keep your belly full and happy. Their Barolo Short Ribs made with a Barolo wine demi-glaze and served over homemade mashed potatoes will just melt in your mouth. Their fresh made Ravioli Panna Prosciutto is filled with prosciutto and served in a pecorino cream sauce and is a dish you won’t soon forget. The simple Zia’s Meatballs appetizer, made with Aunt Josephina's recipe, is a dish you’ll be putting on Instagram. It’s all really fresh, tasty and filling. If you are in the mood for pizza, the Imbriglio’s menu (which they serve in Sardella’s too) is one of the best. Fresh dough that rises to perfect texture after it’s fired in the brick oven. Crunchy and chewy crust with really fresh ingredients on top. It’s no wonder why Sardella’s has been around for so long and why they are still a gem in the Newport restaurant community.

Dan Lederer
Dan Lederer

All longevity in the hospitality industry deserves our appreciation, but 43 years of success deserves a celebration, and that’s just what Sardella’s is doing. Every Thursday night in April, Sardella’s will be celebrating 43 Years of Fine Food & Friends by offering their original menu with entrée choices and pricing from 1980 when it all began. That could be the greatest deal since a quarter got you three lives in Pac-Man (which also debuted in 1980). The offer is for dine-in only and reservations are limited, but you can understand why. Pollo alla Parmigiana for $8.75. Pasta all Cozze (pasta topped with mussels and light tomato sauce) for $8.50. Or Imbriglio's Neapolitan Pizza for $8.50. You can view the full menu on their Facebook page. When you have 43 years of success in the restaurant business, it’s nice to celebrate with and say thank you to your loyal fans.

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Cheers to everyone at Sardella’s for making such a long and lasting mark in our community. We look forward to celebrating your 43 Years of Fine Food & Friends this April. But more importantly, we look forward to another year of knowing that the whole team at Sardella’s will be there for us to satisfy all our Italian food desires.

Dan Lederer is a Middletown resident with 30 years experience in the food service industry throughout New England. He continues to work locally behind the scenes within the industry and remains a devoted fan of all things restaurant and hospitality related. His column appears on and Thursdays in The Daily News. Cheers!

This article originally appeared on Newport Daily News: Sardella's, Newport, celebrates 43 years with 1980 prices in April