In the Kitchen: Padraic Fazio Opens Bird in Hand in Westerly

Ten Sandwiches owner opens new year-round restaurant combining New Orleans flavor with Rhody roots


Padraic Fazio watched as Westerly’s downtown progressively embraced a shift – a multimillion-dollar revival of the beloved United Theatre, Main Street improvements, new restaurants and bars, and a palpable new energy throughout the town perched on Rhode Island’s southern tip.

“Growing up, Westerly’s downtown wasn’t the busiest place,” recalls Fazio. “There were a lot of vacant spaces, but it’s come around a lot. It’s really on the upswing.” Fazio was no stranger to the town’s hospitality scene. He’s best known as the co-owner of Ten Sandwiches, a seasonal hot spot in Watch Hill, with his brother Paul, but he saw there was an opportunity for something different in the heart of downtown Westerly – a restaurant and bar that straddled the space between noteworthy eatery and neighborhood joint.

“I wanted it to be well rounded, a neighborhood restaurant but with an elevated atmosphere. You can come in with your buddies and have a beer or you could come in to celebrate an anniversary or birthday,” Fazio explains. Bird in Hand launched with a soft opening in early February, just enough time to get all the inner workings of a new restaurant in gear for the demands of the town’s swelling summertime population.

While some locals in popular coastal enclaves besmirch the onslaught of seasonal visitors, Fazio embraces travelers, bringing a perspective as both a local and someone who “summered” here. “I grew up in Westerly and moved to Connecticut with my family when I was around 12, but then we came back in the summers. I lived in Boston for a while but came back,” says Fazio. “I always loved Westerly and have now kind of made the full circle.”

Head chef Thom Lowe has been at the helm of Bird in Hand since the beginning and collaborated with Fazio in crafting a seasonally driven dinner and Sunday brunch menu anchored by “French-inspired classics with a southern-creole flair.” Some starters include Curry Shrimp Cigars with Stonington shrimp and honey sambal sauce (an Indonesian chili sauce or paste), roasted oysters with garlic, bread crumbs, shellfish butter, and tasso, a spicy smoked ham with southern Louisiana origins used to flavor Cajun dishes. More nods to the region include the Gruyere and Black Pepper Beignets served with Creole mustard sauce, and New Orleans Style Po-boy with sea smoke remoulade and crispy duck breast.

Fazio spent his first year of college in New Orleans and it left a lasting impression, especially on his palate. “I just fell in love with the food culture down there. It’s a completely different cuisine that’s very, very specific to just that region,” he says. “There’s a lot of oysters and fresh shrimp, a lot of seafood. I think French and Creole cuisine works well with what’s available in Rhode Island and Southern New England.”

The restaurant also offers nightly specials with many dishes inspired by the local bounty of land and sea. “Like any restaurant, things evolve over time, too,” says Fazio, who says he and Lowe try out different dishes regularly to gauge customer interest. The brunch menu also leans into the restaurant’s New Orleans inspiration, offering beignets with chocolate and berry sauces, a Cajun Benedict, Smoked Pork Hash, and freshly made quiche of the day.

One of the best ways to get to know Bird in Hand’s diverse flavors while getting the best bang for your buck is by taking advantage of their early bird menu offered weekdays from 4-6pm. Blistered Shishito Peppers, Pulled Pork Sliders, Fried Oysters, and Grilled Flatbreads are some of the bites you can score for less than a pair of oat milk lattes in these parts. 

And when it comes to libations, Bird in Hand excels. Their Nor’Easter, a house-made rum punch, is best sipped while enjoying the regular live music and stylish aesthetics – you might just think you’re on vacation. 

Sourcing locally is important to Fazio and Lowe, who get fresh-caught local seafood and shellfish through Sea Well Seafood based in nearby Stonington, Connecticut; oysters from Ninigret Nectars; and a good amount of produce, herbs, and microgreens from
local farms.

As for the name, Bird in Hand, Fazio says it relates to “being grateful for what you have.” When he initially wanted to open a second restaurant, he looked at spaces throughout the state, including Newport and Providence. “But then we ended up circling back to Westerly, where we’re from, so the name is about being thankful for what’s on your doorstep instead of searching around for different places. So that’s what we’re focused on: Westerly.”


Bird in Hand

12 Canal Street, Westerly




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