Picasso’s Pizza & Pub has been voted the best sports bar in Rhode Island for 2014 through an online poll taken by the Providence Phoenix.
According to Lou Papineau, managing editor of The Providence Phoenix, thousands of votes were cast for “The Best 2014” contest. The contest included ranking 139 categories. Picasso’s took home the award for the best sports bar.
The Phoenix has been running the contest for almost two decades now.
“It was our 17th annual Best issue, and the response from readers, businesses and other folks involved is always passionate and inspiring,” said Papineau. “It’s a wide range of honorees, from neighborhoods all over the state. Paying tribute to them is one of the most rewarding projects we do at The Providence Phoenix.”
The Best 2014 is a two-step process. Readers nominate their favorites in the many categories and the top five nominees of each category go to the final ballot, which ran for four weeks. All the voting was done online.
The pub’s menu features a variety of choices including pizza, chili, wings, super nachos, garden salad platters and Black Angus burgers among other selections.
Reena Gleason, manager and event coordinator of Picasso’s Pizza & Pub, says customers like the convenience of being able to watch their favorite sports teams at the pub.
“I think over the years Picassos has become more and more the place to watch sports in Warwick,” Gleason said. “It’s the only place around where you can watch any game you want right at your table. You can also watch all of the games at any one of the 16 televisions throughout the bar.”
Often, Picasso’s offers food specials to the customers during big sporting events.
On Saturday, Picassos held an open bar with a free pizza buffet for frequent diners to celebrate winning The Best 2014 award. There were about 200 people in attendance. The buffet featured a variety of 10 different gourmet pizzas. It ran from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. The customers with the ticket vouchers were entered to win prizes from both McLaughlin & Moran Inc. and Picasso’s. Music was booming through the speakers from Warwick’s own DJ Johnny Kash. Music was a mix between rock and hip-hop including Third Eye Blind, Van Halen and a Johnny Cash remix of “Ring of Fire.”
Frequent diners received ticket vouchers in order to take advantage of the open bar and the free pizza. Picassos has about 450 frequent diners in their system.
The owner of Picasso’s is Ray Brooks. Some people may wonder why Brooks named his pub Picasso’s.
“First, Picasso is one of the most famous artists and sculptors so ‘Home of the Masterpiece was a natural,’” Brooks said. “Also, it is my opinion that any time you can have an alliteration when naming a business it is a good thing. Some would have named it Picasso’s Bar & Grill but I think Picasso’s Pizza & Pub is perfect.”
Brooks opened Picasso’s in 1997 as just a pick-up and delivery pizza place. Originally, Brooks had intentions of opening many units with a former partner but decided in early 1998 to move in a different direction. So in January 1999, Picasso’s Pizza & Pub was born.
“My mission has always been to be the best place for food, fun and sports,” Brooks said.
Brooks believes that the quality of the food is a big reason why Picasso’s won the award.
“Seventeen years after opening Picasso’s, I still get fired up when I see a perfect pizza come out of my pizza oven.”
“Being a great sports bar is a lot more than having a lot of televisions,” Brooks said. “It is about creating an event, try and make it as close as you can to being at the game,” he said.
For instance, every Red Sox Opening Day, Picasso’s has a grill outside their door cooking up sausage, pepper and onion grinders.
Gleason thinks both the employees and the customers are the reason Picasso’s won The Best 2014.
“It’s a combination of great employees and loyal customers that makes us the best sports bar in Rhode Island for 2014,”said Gleason.
The other four bars that made the final cut were Dave’s Bar and Grill in Warwick and three bars in Providence: Snookers, Ladder 133 and Rick’s Roadhouse.
This was the first time that Picasso’s was nominated for Best Sports Bar. Last year’s winner was the Whiskey Republic. Picasso’s Pizza & Pub is located at 2323 Warwick Ave, in Warwick. It is open every day from 11:30 a.m. until 1 a.m.
Some other categories that were listed in the Phoenix’s “Best of 2014”include: arts and entertainment, food and drink, city life and shopping.