Food Destination: Jamestown

With Our Table, lauded chef couple is on a mission to put the sleepy coastal town on the culinary map

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Husband-and-wife team Marc Alexander (the savory one) and Marla Romash (the sweet one, who also moonlights as a political consultant) moved from the DC area to Jamestown specifically with the intent of opening their own restaurant.

Why Jamestown? A friend had a home here and they paid a visit around the holidays. “Have you been to the Christmas tree lighting here? Magical,” says Romash. The idyllic seaside town sold them immediately.

But it took them six years to find the right property for their restaurant. Given the number of neighbors (four!) who popped in over the course of an hour during this interview to check on the restaurant’s opening status, its recent launch comes not a moment too soon.

Pastry chef Romash always loved to bake. As a broke college student, she’d bake holiday gifts for friends, a tradition she continued even after she graduated and began working in politics in the DC area, baking holiday gifts for clients. In 2002, her friend, Rhode Island Judge Jack McConnell, told her, “You’ve got to do something with that baking.”

The timing was fortuitous. Burned out from working on two losing political campaigns, Romash took a sabbatical and headed to pastry school. When she got out, she launched Marla’s Magic, an early version of an online bakery. The New York Times mentioned it in a dining story, and pandemonium ensued.

Chef Alexander graduated from Johnson & Wales in 1983 and then enlisted in the Air Force, cooking his way through the ranks. He was stationed at the Pentagon, running a restaurant for officers before becoming the private chef to a three-star general. “I’d cook for a dinner party of dignitaries one night, then make a simple liver and onions for family dinner the next,” he says. After 10 years in the military, Alexander was ready for civilian life, working as an executive chef for one of the most exclusive catering companies in DC, where he and Romash met. They eventually partnered in love and food, opening Dreamz Catering in DC together.

But Our Table was always the dream.

After moving to Rhode Island, Alexander cooked his way around the state, from
working as a private chef in a URI sorority (“that was wild,” he says), to working at Blackstone Catering, to overseeing the kitchen for Apponaug Brewing Company’s opening. Meanwhile, Romash continued her consulting work during the week and sold her decadent sweets through Marla’s Magic at the Jamestown Farmers Market on weekends.

Like for so many in the hospitality industry, COVID changed everything. With restaurants shut down, the couple started a dinner delivery business, cooking out of Middletown’s Temple Shalom. “We’d post a menu online on Friday,” recalls Romash. “Orders needed to be placed by Monday, with dinner delivered on Wednesdays.” The venture, called Our Table to Your Table, took off, putting “the wind under our wings to start this,” she continues, her hands motioning around the airy restaurant.

Their menu is deceptively simple. “Comfort food, kicked up,” Romash says, with every item hand crafted in-house. (“Mark makes the most amazing hummus,” she says, pointing to their hummus and olive starter.) It’s unfussy, one that invites guests to kick back, sip a craft beer or a glass of American wine, and enjoy the flavor explosions of an oyster po’boy slider with kimchi or the French mushroom soup, an inspired revamp of the more traditional French onion one.

The dessert menu is robust – from apple crisp to chocolate cake to Marla’s Magic’s signature cookies – and the restaurant sports a bakery counter for take-away desserts.

The menu changes with the seasons, with Romash noting the bakery menu will likely adapt more often, particularly in the summer months when fruit choices are more varied. They aim to support local purveyors as much as possible.

“We wanted to help make Jamestown a food destination,” says Romash. “But we also want to do something for our neighbors, the people who live here. We want them to come here and know they will get a great meal in a relaxed atmosphere.”

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