Is it true that The Ritz is gaining in popularity as a hot spot for Islanders? Yes it is. The Ritz is not like it used to be, it’s similar, but better.
In July of 2014, Jacqueline and Larkin Stallings bought The Ritz. Located on Circuit Avenue, this place does indeed have a checkered past which is celebrated, but The Ritz there now, has made some great adjustments to this Island spot.
The new owners know a bit about running restaurants and nightclubs, it’s what they have been doing for decades in Texas. Texas?
Yes, but the Stallings have also had a house on Martha’s Vineyard for the past 10 years. With their children in college, and a deep love of Martha’s Vineyard, it was time for them to move here, and call the Vineyard home.
With this move, they decided they wanted to be immersed in the community. So, why not buy a bar? It just so happened one was for sale, and Larkin liked the feel of the place.
Larkin loves the business, loves music, and loves it here, and Jackie loves people and loves Tex Mex – more to come about that.
When I met Jackie, I was immediately charmed. Her accent and her personality make you like her and feel comfortable, and want to be around her. She is small in stature but big in personality, kind of like The Ritz.
What’s new at The Ritz? Well, not so much cosmetically. There was a bunch of things done to the space when The Ritz closed for a couple of weeks in the Fall. There’s some new paint, new TV’s, and new beer system.
If you’re a beer drinker and watch Bar Rescue at all on Spike TV like I do, that will make you know why that’s exciting. There are also some other structural things that were done too. There are also some new, but familiar faces working there, like Ali Mazzaferrro, who really enjoys the new Ritz.
Jackie and Larkin are very careful about the changes made to The Ritz. It’s been around a long time, and people have a tough time with change here.
However, The Ritz is going to still be The Ritz but become better over time.
As I mention, Jackie loves Tex Mex (Texas and Mexican infused food). There was nowhere for Jackie to get the food she likes on the Island. So, why not bring it, and serve it at The Ritz.
I was skeptical about how good the food was going to be at The Ritz, but boy was I in for a surprise. I met there with Jackie and well-known food blogger, author of Cooking with Books, Marnely Rodriguez-Marry, to sample the food.
I had no idea what to expect and hadn’t even seen the menu before meeting for lunch. When I sat down with the ladies, there was a big bowl of chili and soup of the day (Tomato Basil with roasted garlic, topped with popcorn – yum right).
However, let’s discuss the chili. It was so flavorful, and the heat sort of creeps up on you. It’s not too hot but has a good, authentic taste. I couldn’t stop eating it.
It was so good. I couldn’t believe it. I’m not even a chili fan, but I like, really like The Ritz’s chili.
Jackie is proud of the chili The Ritz serves. It’s made with a special blend of meat from Reliable Market, and the recipe is similar to the chili she is used to.
You might be surprised to hear this, but The Ritz is all about using fresh, authentic ingredients, and you can taste it.
Next came out the Shrimp Quesadillas. I was in heaven. They were prepared perfectly. Seasoned well, light, tasty. Yummy.
Served with fresh guac and house made pico de gallo, these have got to be one of the best deals on the Island, only $9.00! One of my new favorite dishes to get in Oak Bluffs.
Then there were the Pork Tacos, aka carnitas. Carnitas are made with slow cooked pork and these were quite taste. Marnely was in love with these.
They tasted like the carnitas you would find in food trucks on the west coast. She couldn’t believe you could get these on Martha’s Vineyard!
Just when we couldn’t handle anymore, one of The Ritz burgers was brought out. A good ole cheddar and bacon burger seasoned well and served with the most amazing chipotle ranch sauce.
I could get used to this Tex Mex stuff. Even the burger was good, but next time I want to try the chili cheese burger with a fried egg! Wow, a tasty sounding gut buster!
Lunch with the ladies at The Ritz was fun and really good. If only I wasn’t working, I would have had a drink too.
You might recognize the man in the kitchen, Chef Scottie Blu. He is excited to be working with a different style of food.
He still is the chef at Jimmy Seas but is keeping himself busy while it’s closed for the season, with his new menu at The Ritz.
The kitchen at The Ritz opens daily at 12:00 p.m. and is open thru 9:00 p.m. Don’t forget about take-out. I am telling you, the food is really good, and that shrimp quesadilla will leave you wanting more.
More Than Good Food
The Ritz is the spot for night life in Oak Bluffs. As mentioned, Larkin loves music, and with that love comes some great bands. Keep an eye out for who might be there, you might be surprised.
Also, there are some fun things to do at The Ritz, like karaoke on Monday nights, and the pool table is back for the Winter months.
The Ritz is even going to be a hot spot for New Year’s Eve this year with The Odd Ball. The Ritz is hosting a dance party as a fundraiser for the Martha’s Vineyard Community Services Chicken Alley.
It’s going to be quite the night, with music, a photo booth, food, and more, for $20.00. I even heard that there might be a breakfast buffet available there late night with taquitos! Once again, loving this Tex Mex.
Congratulations to the new owners of The Ritz. They are working hard to make The Ritz a place for people on Martha’s Vineyard to enjoy, to be a place that’s a part of the community.
With their dedication to The Ritz, love of fresh food, music and the Island, I think people will be spending more time at there.
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