S.S. Victoria Restaurant

A former floating gourmet restaurant moored on South Water Street just outside where the Hot Club is today, before the current boat slips

About this Property

#Concept & History

When we heard about this steamboat-turned-floating-restaurant, we were delighted. And then we were surprised that we had it for about four years and then never again. For a water-centric city, it is surprising that this concept has not been repeated.

The S.S. Victoria was a 106-foot steamboat built in New Jersey in the 1920s to ferry supplies and patients to municipal institutions on New York City’s Roosevelt Island. A restaurant designer in Philadelphia who specializes in converting old boats into restaurants, Alfred Johnston, reconditioned it in 1978 and brought it from New London, Conn. to Providence. It was opened as a restaurant the next year.1

It could seat up to 150 patrons.2 A year later, restauranteur Anthony “Tony” Mastronardi purchased it and ran it with his family, including his wife Janice, until 1983.

Mastronardi then sold the S.S. Victoria to George Costa, a developer from New Jersey, who planned to bring it back and berth it in Hoboken.3 He was taking advantage of a $10-million historic waterfront renewal4 but was not officially invited to take part.5 The steamer sunk shortly after it arrived in New Jersey.6

Mastronardi and family went on to lead or be part of many other restaurant ventures, including their own Victoria House restaurant on Rathbone Street in Providence7 — which in 1993 became the home of the second incarnation of the Living Room nightclub and concert venue.8

We are looking for more photos and information about the S.S. Victoria! Please send them along if you happen to have some.

#In the News

Anthony D. Mastronardi

MASTRONARDI, ANTHONY D., 87, passed away January 5, 2022. He was predeceased by his wife of over 63 years, B. Janice (Spirito) Mastronardi. Born in Providence, he was the son of the late Domenico and Carmela (Maffei) Mastronardi.

He met his wife while working as florists at the former Carol Florist in Providence. He worked as a Field Underwriter for Mutual of New York for over 25 years. He co-owned and operated with his wife, the former S.S. Victoria Restaurant and Victoria House Restaurant, both in Providence. He also worked as a manager of the former Agora Restaurant in Providence, The University Club in Providence and The Metacomet Country Club in East Providence. He served for many years as the Bailli (Pres.) of the RI Chapter of the Chaîne des Rôtisseurs, the oldest food and wine society in the world.

“Anthony D. Mastronardi.” Providence Journal: Web Edition Articles (RI), sec. Obituaries, 10 Jan. 2022. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/18773857886C6AF8. Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.

B. Janice Mastronardi (Obituary)

July 31, 1938 to May 2, 2021 — B. Janice Mastronardi, 82, passed away May 2, 2021. She is survived by her husband of 63 years Anthony D. Mastronardi. Born in Providence she was a daughter of the late John and Linda (Santopiertro) Spirito.

She met her husband while working as florists at the former Carol Flower Shop in Providence. She co-owned and operated the former S.S. Victoria Restaurant in Providence and the former Victoria House Restaurant in Providence. She had also worked at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Warwick as a front desk operator/concierge for over two decades, and most recently worked at the Pasta Patch in Warwick. […]

Captured January 14, 2022 from https://www.hillfuneralhome.com/obituary/b-janice-mastronardi

Yes, Victoria — There is a home in N.J.

by Donna Lee
Providence Journal | August 17, 1983 (abridged)

The S.S. Victoria, the old steamboat that had been turned into a restaurant, was towed out of Providence Wednesday afternoon, headed for a new berth in New Jersey.

Employees gathered nearby at The Hot Club to wave goodbye and toast the Victoria with champagne as it left. Customers, saddened that the Victoria was leaving, had crowded the restaurant the last week of its operation, then partied late into the night in the final farewell.

“We closed the restaurant July 2, and it went out on the moon tide (3:30p.m.) August 10,” said Anthony D. Mastronardi, who had operated the boat as a restaurant since 1980.

The S.S. Victoria had to pass under the hurricane barrier to head for Quonset Point. It was a tight squeeze, even at low tide. After the 18-foot smokestack was removed, Mastronardi estimated that there was about six inches clearance. In Quonset, the smokestack was reinstalled. The Victoria was expected to reach New Jersey this week.

Mastronardi said the new owner, developer George Costa, plans to use the boat as a restaurant in Hoboken, N.J., and keep the name S.S. Victoria.

The R.I. Fish Co. pier between the Hurricane barrier and Fox Point bridge is empty where the S.S. Victoria was once berthed. Mastronardi is studying the possibilities of a restaurant-lounge. “I’m considering a permanent structure,“ Mastronardi said.

“Boats have a lot of problems,” he explained. “You can’t expand, and the kitchen is cramped.”

The S.S. Victoria, a 106-foot steamboat, was built in Elizabeth, N.J., in the 1920s to ferry supplies and patients to municipal institutions on New York City’s Welfare Island, now called Roosevelt Island. At the time, the boat was called “The Welfare.”

Alfred Johnston, a restaurant designer in Philadelphia who specializes in converting old boats into restaurants, brought the boat from New London, Conn., to Providence in October, 1978 and reconditioned it. It was opened as a restaurant the next year, and Mastronardi bought it in 1980.

This summer, Mastronardi, who is president of the R.I. Chapter of Confrerie de la Chaine des Rotisseurs, held a dinner party on the S.S. Vitoria for members of his gourmet group. It was a gastronomic tour of Italy by chef Stephen Plante, and the food was excellent… baby ravioli with warm walnut sauce, baby lamb chops with sweet roasted peppers, dandelion salad, venison aaa Cacciatore. […]

[…] Mastronardi is considering his next venture, and New Jersey will soon be welcoming a floating restaurant from Rhode Island. Arrival of the S.S. Victoria will be the first phase of a billion-dollar waterfront restoration project in Hoboken.

The new owner hopes to have the floating restaurant open by Labor Day.

“I loved the boat and I met a lot of nice people there,” said Mastronardi. “But Costa loves it too. It’s going to have a good home.”

Lee, Donna. “Yes, Victoria — There is a home in N.J.” Providence Journal, 17 August 1983

  1. Lee, Donna. “Yes, Victoria — There is a home in N.J.” Providence Journal, 17 August 1983. 

  2. Jackman, Tom. “Dining Down by the Riverside.” New York Times (NY), 10 July 1983. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/1983/07/10/nyregion/dining-down-by-the-riverside.html. Accessed 16 Jan. 2022. 

  3. Lee, Donna. 

  4. “Refunds from S.S. Victoria.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. NEWS, 19 Aug. 1983, pp. C-01. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/1525C288212CDBE0. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022. 

  5. “…there will be a floating restaurant in Hoboken, much to the chagrin of Mrs. Manogue, Salvatore Samperi of the Port Authority and Paul Rotondi, chairman of the Waterfront Advisory Committee, who admitted at its last meeting that Mr. Costa was within his rights to dock a boat in Hoboken, even if it was not part of the committee’s overall redevelopment plans.” — Jackman, Tom. 

  6. “‘There wasn’t much else down here,’ said Hot Club co-owner Tom Bates. Nearby floated the SS Victoria, a waterborne restaurant that closed soon afterward, sailed to New Jersey and sank at dockside there.” — MORGAN, THOMAS J.. “Run-down waterfront district becomes hotbed for nightspots.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. NEWS, 29 July 1990, pp. B-04. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/1525BAB3D5F69EA0. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022. 

  7. “If you want to spend an evening dining comfortably and pleasantly and never being hurried, Victoria House could be the answer. Owned and operated by Anthony and Janice Mastronardi (who previously operated the S.S. Victoria on the Providence River), Victoria House, on Rathbone Street between Promenade and Valley Streets, reflects their hospitable approach to their patrons. The Mastronardis are actually at the door to greet you in Old World tradition.” — MERAS, PHYLLIS. “DINING OUT If you miss the boat, its skippers are back S.S. Victoria’s owners now serve Italian food near the produce dock.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. WEEKEND, 12 June 1987, pp. D-02. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/15252B1B4C2D2060. Accessed 14 Jan. 2022. 

  8. SMITH, ANDY. “Living Room getting ready to reopen.” Providence Journal (RI), ALL ed., sec. LIFEBEAT/WEEKEND, 24 Dec. 1993, pp. D-01. NewsBank: America’s News, infoweb.newsbank.com/apps/news/document-view?p=NewsBank&docref=news/152523D4A345ADA8. Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.