Hooked Restaurant Newport RI

What She’s Having: Tried-and-True Seafood Crew Brings its Catch to Hooked

Chef Junior Frizzera, decades-long veteran of the original Scales and Shells restaurant, and beloved oyster shucker and eight-year staff member James Smith have picked up their menus, much of the kitchen and floor staff, vendors, and the simple, fresh seafood M.O. that was the guiding principle of the restaurant, and moved them across the street to Hooked, located in Wellington Square next to sister restaurant Vieste.

There’s been a big bunch of commotion on neighborhood platforms of late about some significant changes to the Newport food scene. Much of the concern, aimed at a particular outside entity that has descended on Aquidneck Island like a restaurant-eating piranha, is justified, but I’ll leave that hot topic for another day. Still, on the micro level, shifts, reinventions and comings and goings are cyclical in the restaurant business, like any business, and change is hard for dedicated restaurant fans.

The latest fuss was stoked when devoted Scales and Shells patrons found an entirely new experience at the Lower Thames Street seafood haven when it reopened last month under new ownership and management. The talented new chef, Richard Allaire, has an exciting vision for the reimagined Scales, a definite pivot from its established formula and something to look forward to. I’ll report on that soon, but for now, if you’re sad about your old standby, cry no more. It’s all still happening at Hooked.

“My goal is for the fish to be the star,” said Chef Junior. “Every relish or sauce is made to be a sidekick. I want you to taste the seafood, not roasted red pepper. And the quality is the best. I have all the same vendors I’ve worked with for (nearly 30) years.”

Chef Junior started at Scales and Shells in the summer of 2000, taking a five-year hiatus from 2011 to 2016, spending part of that time cooking in Milan, Italy. At the start of 2024, with the change in ownership and management, Frizzera knew it was time for a change and Vieste owner Tony Lorusso, an avid fisherman whose catch often becomes the daily special, offered him the opportunity to take his show down the road.

The Hooked menu offers the choice of the freshest, simple grilled or broiled fish (swordfish, salmon, tuna, toro tuna or shrimp) with a choice of side, along with the old-time linguine options: scallops, shrimp, chopped clams or calamari in red or an unusual white sauce that’s made with clam juice, anchovy, garlic, crushed red pepper, parsley, and unexpected pecorino cheese. There’s Smith’s raw bar, about a dozen appetizers (including a crispy tuna roll that is nothing short of sublime), and entrees including lobster, fish and chips, and Scampis, Marsalas and Picattas. For landlubbers, there’s an option for chicken and a filet mignon. There’s also now a full bar.

“I needed to move on,” the chef said. “Tony made me a very nice offer and gave me every opportunity for success and to be here for the customers I’ve been cooking for for so many years.”

“Scales was always a family workplace where chefs, wait staff, owners, dishwashers, shuckers were very connected and respected each other as one. I brought them all to Hooked and it only took a few weeks to establish here what took years to build there.”

The Hooked-Vieste duo offers a duality of Italian options with specialties from north to south in a quieter part of town, the former dedicated to fish, the latter more to both meat and vegan options. For either spot, do yourself a favor and make a reservation.




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