Only in Island Park could a restaurant have a nicer view than many Rhode Island mansions, and still appropriately be known as “Localz.” I’m sure summer tourists come to enjoy the view in this little nook of Portsmouth, but as the weather gets cooler, I felt like I’d walked in on a neighborhood haunt. Someone named Tony told someone named Tracy that he was owed a hug; next to us, a first date was laboring on. There was nice chatter over at the bar. It reminded me of darker taverns, except with water views and generous windows.
The service had a more personal feel too – always welcome when you’re inflicting a toddler on a restaurant. Our waitress, Cindy, escorted us a booth so we could imprison our child more effectively and produced a fun, improvised toy rattle made from a paper soup bowl, as well as packets of oyster crackers and crayons. She diffused our little bomb, who loved her. The menu has its share of local sourcing, and a lot of local appetites represented. This is a place for ample portions. Pizza, pasta, sandwiches, grilled meat, and seafood cover the pub grub, and on top you’ve got the New England classics that folks expect: Portuguese Necks, Mussels, Stuffies, and oceans more.
“All good things must have a beginning,” reads the appetizer menu. I began pondering that a little too hard. For my beginning, I went with a Sam Adams Octoberfest ($4.50), but I have to say the better and more varied option here is the unexpected little mule menu. (I know because I set about stealing my wife’s). Mules have enjoyed a real resurgence over the last decade, and their Montana Mule ($8.50) shows why – it’s not just the fun metal mug. Jim Beam, lime, and ginger, nothing overthought here.
From there we got some potato skins ($6.75). It’s been ages since I’ve had one, and although I claimed it’s because I thought they’d be a hit with my son (they were) it was mostly for me. They used a nice fat russet in halves, with plenty of crispy diced bacon, all garnished with some green onion, and that orange stuff many Americans think of as Cheddar. You know, a potato skin. “Yum,” says the child, and the child in me.
For the mains, my wife diverged radically pricewise. I went for the 657 Burger and she for a Surf and Turf Special. First, the burger. No matter how many ounces of ground beef there are in your burger, I feel slightly disappointed when the large roll overhangs the patty like a large brioche umbrella. Not so here: This was a structurally sound stack. You already have crispy bacon, but the garlic herb spread smeared on the patty had a slight tang and creamy richness. My buttered-up burger was cooked as I ordered, pink on the inside, and was really filling. My wife’s Surf and Turf was daunting; onion rings atop an herbed butter pat atop a large grilled steak, with sides of asparagus, mashed potatoes, and breaded, stuffed shrimp.
Lastly, the dessert: a chocolate layer cake. Once again, this place puts hair on your chest: The cake layers are almost an afterthought to the half-inch of chocolate ganache, then icing studded with chocolate chips. A free ice-cream appeared for our kid, and all of a sudden, he spooned in perfect silence for 10 minutes.
Localz Kitchen & Cocktails
657 Park Ave, Portsmouth