It was so much fun to invite Boston and New York media to Newport for a wintery 24-hour culinary experience of Newport Restaurant Group, Castle Hill Inn and Papa Razzi. Guest arrivals to Castle Hill's forty acre peninsula. Rhode Island's first Relais & Chateaux property, this omniscient location overlooking the East Passage and the Atlantic has secured its varied and notable history as one of the most magical places on the Northeast seaboard. 

Brenda Brock and her talented team from Farmaesthetics welcomed guests with the choice of a trio of mini spa service offerings at Castle Hill's newest addition, The Retreat at Castle Hill by Farmaesthetics

Farmaesthetics is a highly acclaimed, award-winning, 100% natural herbal skincare line based in Rhode Island. Time magazine honored Farmaesthetics and its founder as one of “The 100 Most Influential People and Ideas Behind Today’s Green Design in Beauty,” and every treatment reflects the tenets of classic herbal formulation. All products are made with organically grown herbs and flowers from American family farms, many harvested from the seaside farmlands of Rhode Island. The freshest, most luxurious face and body treatments always end with visible results, and that is what you will experience with Farmaesthetics...and all enjoyed in the pristine atmosphere of a mansion suite at Castle Hill.

Following check in to one of Castle Hill Inn's 33 guest rooms - either on the beach, on the hill, or on the harbor - guests were welcomed by Brian Young, Castle Hill's Managing Director, with a champagne toast of Crement d'Alsace Lucien Albrecht and a bit of history about the Inn including, stories of Alexander Agassiz, the Harvard marine biologist who built the mansion as his summer home in 1874 and his famed parties on the 40-acre estate in the 1920s. Also mentioned was Grace Kelly's stay in 1956 while filming High Society and the stairs that were built just for her by the Castle Hill staff. Kelly sought to stay out of the view of the paparazzi but wished to dip her toes into Narragansett Bay, and the beach behind the Harbor Houses has been lovingly named Grace Kelly Beach. Another frequent visitor to the Inn was Thornton Wilder and wrote part of Theophilus North there. In the book, Wilder describes one of the bedrooms as “the pentagonal room in a turret above the house: From that magical room I could see at night the beacons of six lighthouses and hear the booming and chiming of as many sea buoys,” referring to Castle Hill's Turret Suite, boasting 360-degree views of Narragansett Bay. 

Following a bit of history of the Inn, guests took a quick ten minute ride into downtown Newport to enjoy a five-course wine pairing dinner at 22 Bowens, Newport Restaurant Group's reinvented steakhouse offering a sophisticated touch of opulence to a world where indulging oneself is encouraged. On any given evening, a smattering of Newport’s finest come to sink into soft leather, glass in hand, and be treated to some of the City by the Sea’s best food and drink. Chef Jim Colleran and Beverage Director Shawn Westhoven impressed all guests with menu pairings (CLICK HERE FOR THE SPECIAL 22 BOWEN'S MENU). Following the dinner, Castle Hill's interior bar welcomed the late night seekers back for cordials and house-made truffles while the remainder of the guests retired to their guest rooms for a luxurious night of rest. 

Executive Chef Karsten Hart of Castle Hill rose early to create a locally inspired two-course breakfast in the Ocean Room at Castle Hill overlooking Narragansett Bay. Guests enjoyed Narragansett Creamery yogurt parfaits and fruits from Schartner Farm, alongside local granola and Aquidneck Island honey. And it wouldn't be a Rhody breakfast without johnnycakes, served with salted brown butter crumble, apple compote and Bedlam Maple Syrup. 

Following breakfast, guests were welcomed to the estate's Chalet, the original marine biology laboratory of Alexander Agassiz, which in the warmer months boasts an adjacent one-of-a-kind Sperry Tent made of sail cloth and sail rigging where many summertime weddings take place. Here they met up with Chef Kevin Dilibero and Chef Matthew Petersen, both ten year veterans of the Newport Restaurant Group, who are heading up the culinary force behind reinventing a Boston Classic: Papa Razzi. In Spring 2015, Newport Restaurant Group's talent pool will usher a new era for the beloved 25-year-old Boston brand, when it introduces Papa Razzi Metro to the Burlington location. Inspired by the original Papa Razzi on Dartmouth Street, Papa Razzi Metro will return to its roots as an urban Italian eatery, featuring a Salumi Bar, house wines by the carafe, Neapolitan pizzas, and house-made pastas, Italian ice and gelato all housed in a sparkling new 10,000-square-foot restaurant designed by Boston's famed designer, Peter Niemitz. Papa Razzi Metro is scheduled to reopen its doors in Spring 2015. 

Chef Matthew and Kevin each led a cooking segment for the guests (CLICK HERE FOR THE COOKING CLASS RECIPES) to get a hands-on and taste Papa Razzi Metro. Chef Matthew chose the new Sbrisolona, a Northern Italian-tart-meets cookie, which according to tradition symbolizes sharing and is meant to be broken tableside and shared with family and friends. As the guests' cookies were baking, Chef Kevin demonstrated how to make house-made rigatoni and prepared a delectable traditional bolognese as he and Regional Director of Operations Corey Barriera answered questions about the new Papa Razzi concept. Chef Kevin sent guests home with a bag of house-made rigatoni in their very own kitchen!

The last stop for our guests was Newport Restaurant Group's flagship restaurant, The Mooring, located downtown on Sayer's Wharf (CLICK HERE FOR THE SPECIAL MOORING MENU) and the original location of the New York Yacht Club, The Mooring is nothing less than quintessential Newport with an expertly crafted menu combines unique and distinctive flavors that fuse with specially-selected ingredients, incorporating top-of-catch seafood and locally grown, organic produce into their menus whenever possible. It’s an approach that enhances the connection between the plate and its source, increasing the quality of the culinary experience. An inspired selection of raw bar delicacies, appetizers, salads and entrees are perfectly complemented with one of New England’s most award-winning wine lists, featuring more than 600 fine labels

Many guests remained and played in wintery Newport while others got back on the road to family and life in the cities. On behalf of your friends at Newport Restaurant Group, Castle Hill Inn, and Papa Razzi, please visit us again in the summertime when Newport is abuzz and the ice on the waterfront melts to welcome sailboats and glistening seas…


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Jocelyn Emory

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