Aurelia: What’s in a Name?

Castle Hill possibly got its name from an earthwork built by Native Americans that resembled a castle to ships passing into the Narragansett Bay, which splays out to the west and north of our property. What we know as the Castle Hill Inn was created by Marine Biologist and Oceanographer Alexander Agassiz who built his summer home here in 1875 (the Agassiz mansion) and a marine research laboratory (the Chalet) in 1877.

Anyone who has enjoyed time here could attest to it being the perfect location for a summer home; according to Agassiz, it was the perfect location for a marine laboratory as well. He theorized that Newport was the ideal spot for collecting marine specimens due to the confluence of warm and cold currents creating a profound biodiversity. The rocky coastline and the deep waters of the lower Bay just off Castle Hill also added to the mix. He and his students would have no trouble finding abundant specimens to study just offshore.

In his later years Agassiz became an oceanographer and studied coral reefs around the world, but his research at Castle Hill was focused on the local aquatic creatures like flounder, sea urchins, and the moon jellyfish – Aurelia – the name we have given to our reimagined fine dining experience in honor of our waterfront location and history.

What is Aurelia?

Chef de Cuisine Dylan Cadrette says, “Aurelia for me is a destination restaurant. Our goal is to bring guests to Newport and really have them experience a sense of place here at the mansion, providing the guest an opportunity to experience a high-class fine dining environment in a comfortable setting. Our focus in the kitchen is to take familiar ingredients from local producers and merge them with luxurious products from around the world using classic, approachable cooking techniques to achieve an elegant and encompassing New England dining experience, like none other in the area.”

Joining the Castle Hill culinary team in 2021, Chef Cadrette, a New England native, was placed at the helm of our fine dining program, following stints at regional five-star New England hotels: the Wheatleigh and Blantyre in the Berkshires and the Ocean House in Watch Hill.

Chef preparing dinner plate with tweezers

Entree offering

Server pours soup over lobster at table

The Dining Room at Castle Hill needed a new, more distinctive identity; it could have been just as simple as that! Castle Hill’s fine dining venue has been a special occasion and gourmet destination for decades. For months, before opening as Aurelia this January, our team of culinary and hospitality professionals were meeting every week to look at every aspect of its service to determine what could be done to make it more refined, more of a statement, with more flair, while remaining simple and elegant. These include Brian Young, our Managing Director for over a decade; Chef Louis Rossi, our F&B Director, who possesses the longest Castle Hill tenure of the entire bunch — serving as our Executive Chef for many of those years; Michael Doctor, our Director of Restaurants, joined us in 2022 following several years as the General Manager of 22 Bowens Wine Bar & Grille (another top-tier Newport Restaurant Group experience); and Harrison Hileman, Maître d’ of Aurelia, promoted from Dining Room captain last year to helm the service aspects of our premier dining destination.

Maitre d’ Harrison Hileman

Maitre d’ Harrison Hileman oversees the details of service.

Aurelia Bar Book with glass of spirits on side


Chef Dylan in the kitchen with Marie and Director of Restaurants Michael Doctor

Chef Dylan in the kitchen with Marie and Director of Restaurants Michael Doctor

In addition to new décor elements, Aurelia features new Bernardaud fine china from Limoges, France, the latest Grassl glassware, custom glass napkin rings by Clancy Designs (made by hand across the bay in Jamestown), an expanded wine pairing program, the addition of non-alcoholic pairings, a new cheese cart, and cleverly designed food, drink, and wine menus. Most importantly, you will also see the heart and dedication of the team behind it all, which includes many not mentioned here, as we continue our journey to become the best that our name, history, and destiny suggest.

Aurelia at sunset with water seen through windows

The Sunset Room set for Aurelia

Aurelia is open Thursday through Monday evenings with seatings at 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30pm serving a six-course chef’s tasting menu for $165. Sommelier wine selections are available to pair with each course for $125. Prestige wine pairings are $185. Non-alcoholic pairings are $85. Visit for further information.

Shea C Nelson