Red Sauce Ristorante

Red Sauce Ristorante serves up family Italian fare

Photo by Susan Laughlin

If these walls could talk. Well, they probably can't because of all the layers of paint on them. In the past five years this Manchester location at 33 S. Commercial St. has changed hands four times. From Starfish Grill (light green walls), Commercial Street Fishery (medium green walls) to Pochito's Grille (yellow walls) to the recently opened Red Sauce Ristorante (orange walls), this charming spot in an old mill across from WMUR-TV has had an uphill battle to find patronage.

Being in the right place at the right time has a lot to do with a restaurant's success and hopefully the affordable menu at Red Sauce will encourage people to find this place.

The chef relocated from North Adams, Mass., taking the name of his former restaurant and his well-trialed menu to Manchester with support from his brother who lives locally. Chef Ed Ceccherini has a strong culinary background with 15 years at the Ritz-Carlton. At Red Sauce he went back to his Italian roots and his nona's recipes to create a contemporary, but nostalgic nod to his heritage.

First of all, at Red Sauce it is all about the red sauce. It is excellent, from the marinara to the puttenesca. Ceccherini starts with canned tomatoes from a family farm in California and adds fresh herbs and simmers them just enough to meld the flavors - not all day and not just 15 minutes - it's somewhere in between that he finds the sweet spot. All else he claims is made from scratch including the stocks and dressings. The pastas are not homemade, but imported from Italy.

The calamari ($10.95) is the crispiest around, though most of the flavor comes from the accompanying sauce. The arancini ($6.95) is filled with mozzarella cheese, salami and spinach and is a nice mouthful. An important menu item at an Italian restaurant is the Caesar salad ($10.95). It works here. Entrées are affordable with the eggplant parmigiana starting the list off ($13.95).

Open for lunch and dinner Monday through Saturday, closed on Sunday. Look for happy hour specials from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m.

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