2014-11-20 / Nature

Conversation with Scott Kirmil

CHEF’S Q & A
By James Merolla


Diego’s/ Wharf Pub 11 Bowen’s Wharf 401-619-2640 Diego’s/ Wharf Pub 11 Bowen’s Wharf 401-619-2640 It was the neighborly thing to do said Scott Kirmil and his wife, Adrienne, about their purchase of the Wharf Deli in the fall of 2012. The couple already owned Diego’s across the street.

“We had several years under our belt owning Diego’s and felt that the opportunity to expand right next door and conquer a new concept was too good to pass up,” said Scott. “At the Wharf Pub, we keep the same focus on fresh and fromscratch cooking as we have at Diego’s, but with a very different overall concept. We serve rustic comfort food, sometimes with a bit of a Southern flare, and after unique takes on foods you grew up with.”

The couple wanted to create a cozy rustic pub, minus all the banners and TVs. “We focus on good food, amazing beer, fun drinks and bluegrass music that will make you feel like you aren’t in Newport for a few hours. As owners, we worked in Boston restaurants for roughly 25 years combined, and still are involved in that scene as well,” he added.


Scott Kirmil, co-owner of the Wharf Pub and Diego’s, with sous chef Kate Repko. Scott Kirmil, co-owner of the Wharf Pub and Diego’s, with sous chef Kate Repko. “We feel lucky in one way to have had the opportunity to get these places off the ground in such a great area and for the fact that both are now on many people’s lists of local favorites. On the other hand, both places took a lot of blood, sweat and tears from us and our staff to get to where they are today, in a town with so many seasonal challenges. We try to look at both places as local eateries that just happen to also get mobbed with tourists a few months of the year.

“With my wife and I both working at the restaurants, we try to get some real time off by adjusting our schedules to make sure we have quality time with our son and each other. Summer months are always unpredictable, but we do our best to get away from work when we can. During the past two years, we have had a baby and a new restaurant so certainly no days have been spent on the couch, but, hopefully, a good snowstorm this winter will fix that.

If I could cook for anyone in the world, it would be Chuck Ragan. He’s a great underground musician I have been obsessed with for 20 years.

The most popular dish at the Pub so far is our chicken and waffles. Thick Belgium waffles that we make fresh, topped with house ground pork sausage, tender fried chicken, Tasso gravy, chives and Newhall Farms real maple syrup. For Diego’s, it’s tough to say, probably our fresh Braker’s Guacamole. My guys who had to mash five to eight cases of avocados a day this summer probably wish this was not the case though.

The skulls in our ads and logos stem from all the great Day of the Dead art out there. The other reason is because I grew up around punk rock and played in bands for a long time, so there are some references to that world. I think it works and most people seem to like our style. Every so often people hate the music, lighting and decor, and that’s part of life. If the food and drinks are good, that’s the most important part, as cool logos certainly don’t make a restaurant successful.

We relax by going to new restaurants and trying new things. We love checking out new cities with friends and hunting down the best cocktails and food we can find. Now that we have a two-year-old, we also enjoy watching the Sprout network and eating, cold to-go food when it’s finally bedtime.

The thing that drives me crazy about the business is the fact that there are negative side effects of eating and drinking everything you want. It’s a bit upsetting to me both as an owner and personally.

The best thing about owning the restaurant is being able to meet people from all walks of life and talk about something like food that we all love.

If I had to choose my last meal on earth, I think it would be sushi or hot pot and lots of it, or maybe a burger. If I had to cook it, then probably the burger.

My guilty food pleasure is 7/11 egg salad sandwiches. I grew fond of them when I worked 80-100 hours a week in Boston for eight years before coming here. They fit with my budget and, even with a few suspect ones consumed, I never got sick.

The most famous person I have cooked for was in Boston 15 years ago. I served (actor) Mark Wahlberg an organic greens salad only to have a three-inch grasshopper jump out of it at him. He was not pleased, but it made for a great story.

Black Sea Tater Tots

The concept here is easy and can be done at home. Clarify some unsalted butter…probably a ½-pound is plenty at home. While over low heat, add ¼-cup diced black anchovies (or a ½-cup if you really love them!) and stir occasionally for roughly 10 minutes. You now have your anchovy butter that you can toss/pour over either tater tots, French fries or any sort of potato form you prefer. Toss crispy tater tots with this sauce as well as some course black pepper, sea salt and fresh chopped parsley. Add more chopped anchovies as garnish if you want some extra flavor. It’s a great snack or side dish.

FROM THE MENU

Pork Belly Sliders Seared pork belly sliders on brioche buns topped with our traditional Southern slaw, smoked paprika aioli and shaved shishito peppers. $12

Creamy New England Burrata Served with our golden raisin and walnut glaze, lemon and black sea salt dressed arugula and house made brioche toast points. $13

The Pig Pen Bacon wrapped tater tots topped with our zesty cheese sauce, shaved jalapeno, scallions, house made BBQ and grilled bread for plate cleaning. $8.50

Yo Mama’s Burger A 1/2 pound Braveheart Black Angus beef patty with crispy bacon, iceberg, fresh tomato, housemade mayo, white onion, and creamy New England peanut butter. $14

Creole Buffalo Salmon Pan-seared Canadian salmon with our Southern style dirty rice, drunken collard greens and house-made Buffalo Beurre Blanc. $24

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