Decades ago, back before Providence had a restaurant scene — or even a mayor with a rap sheet — elegant dining in Rhode Island was epitomized by a place in Newport with tuxedoed waiters, The Black Pearl.
Located on Bannister’s Wharf, the building that houses the Black Pearl was constructed in the 1920’s – a time of tremendous opportunity and accumulating wealth in America.
Commodore Arthur Curtiss James, owner of a large estate in Newport, used the building as a sail loft and machine shop for his magnificent 219’ three-mast, full rigged bark, Aloha. Her figurehead was modeled after the Hawaiian queen Liliuokalani.
In 1967, a man with the delightfully old-money name of Barclay H. Warburton III — a yachtsman who liked
to eat well— transformed the seedy dock shack on Bannister’s Wharf like Cinderella.
He named the place after his beloved brigantine rig, The Black Pearl, and fitted it out with the restaurant equivalents of polished brass and well-oiled teak, and offered food that was up to his standards.
Those standards continue to remain high.
Warburton sold the restaurant in December 1973 to its present owner, who closed it down for extensive renovations and reopened May 1974 with the addition of an outside patio & bar that overlook Newport Harbor.
Besides expanding the kitchen in 1989, The Black Pearl has remained essentially unchanged for 30 years.
It is consitently recognized as one of New England's top restaurants and has become an institution in Newport.