Best of NH 2012 Pizzerias and Ethnic Food Restaurants
Try something new! With winners from cuisines around the world, from Nepalese and Italian to Mexican and German, there's bound to be something you've never tried before.
The Tuscan Kitchen in Salem.
Readers' Poll Winners
*Antipasto Mediterranio: The entrée-sized salad at Amphora in Derry is sure to satisfy with fresh lettuce, chunks - not mere crumbles - of feta cheese, kasseri (a sharp and salty goat or sheep's milk cheese), sharp and crispy salonika peppers, dolmades (stuffed grape leaves), artichoke hearts, onions, tomatoes, Kalamata olives and roasted red peppers.
Caesar Salad: It doesn't get any fresher or more authentic than the table-side Caesar salad at the Colosseum Restaurant in Salem.
Caesar Salad (Local Chain): Start off an Italian meal with an appetizing Caesar salad at Fratello's Italian Grille located throughout New Hampshire.
*Chicken Momos: Upon walking into Manchester's tiny Café Momo you might think you've accidentally wandered into someone's home - but not to worry, you're in the right place. Though you really can't go wrong when ordering off the spicy Nepalese/Himalayan menu, the restaurant's namesake - the momos (and particularly the chicken momos) are a real treat. These traditional purse-like Nepali dumplings are delicately seasoned, steamed to perfection and are never doughy. Choose from lamb, chicken, shrimp or vegetable fillings.
Chinese Restaurant: Lilac Blossom in Nashua expertly prepares high-quality Chinese food in an equally top-notch setting.
Chinese Restaurant (Local Chain): Chen Yang Li has locations in Bow and Bedford serving Chinese favorites and fresh sushi.
*Date Night Italian: Impress a date or enjoy a night out with your significant other at Ristorante Massimo in historic downtown Portsmouth. This quaint stone-and-brick building is the perfect place for intimate dining, and the gourmet Italian menu and first-rate service will certainly help set the mood for a romantic evening. Many items come in entrée or appetizer-sized portions, so ramp up the romance with a few shared dishes tapas-style.
Street 360 in Portsmouth
*Empanadas: Empananas spiced like Chile are just one version of international street food offered at Street 360 in Portsmouth. Take the world tour with tacos, banh mi and bibimbap. For good measure, sip their zesty all-American Bloody Mary for brunch.
*Fish 'n Chips on the Seacoast: When you go to "The Coat" in Portsmouth, go hungry and order their fish 'n chips. A huge piece of perfectly crunchy beer-battered, flaky white fish will arrive at your table piping hot, accompanied by copious amounts of chips. A perfect meal to share or tuck into solo, The Coat of Arms fish 'n chips is hands down the best spot on the Seacoast to score some good, authentic pub fare. Pair it with a pint of the British Isles' best and you'll be jolly glad you came.
*Fried Olives: You can quickly get addicted to the crispy batter-coated fried jumbo stuffed olives at Lucia's Tavola in Brookline. They are filled with chicken and vegetables and served with a sprinkle of gorgonzola cheese. Dip them in the roast garlic and smoked chili and local honey aoli. Oh, mama mia.
German Restaurant: Mile Away Restaurant in Milford is attached to a house built in 1746 that was a mile away from the center of the now-defunct town of Monson, NH. Today, the restaurant serves delicious, traditional Swiss Continental dishes.
*Guacamole: Freshly made and bright green, this Mexican staple has just the right amount of seasoning and cilantro at Tacos Colima in Nashua. Besides, Chowhound foodies claim they make the most authentic Mexican food in southern NH.
*Healthy Pita Platter: Mall food courts are not typically known for their fresh and healthy options, but Extreme Pita at the Mall of New Hampshire in Manchester clearly marks calorie amounts and nutritional information. Order for a crowd or an office meeting with online ordering and delivery for catering orders $65 and over. The board will be pleased with the healthy options. Catering choices range from the personal lunch box to a pita platter and large Boardroom Meeting Combo. Soups, salads and desserts are also offered.
*House-made Pasta: Italian restaurants lean on the pasta dishes, but at Tuscan Kitchen in Salem the experience is a pure delight. Owners previously ran a pasta company so they know what they "knead." Sit at the pasta bar and watch as your ravioli's are fired, sauced and quickly served.
*House Salad Dressing: All the regulars at You You Asian Bistro in Nashua love the gingery and piquant house salad dressing. It is so popular that owner Vincent Woo also sells it at Lull Farm. But don't ask for the recipe - he's not sharing.
Indian Restaurant: Portsmouth's Shalimar India Restaurant is famous for its savory tandoori dishes and exotic curries.
Indian Restaurant (Regional Chain): India Palace in Nashua and Manchester offers a bursting and affordable lunch buffet with everything from naan bread to spicy entrées and condiments.
Irish Pub: 113 years after it was built, St. Joseph's Church in Epping now houses The Holy Grail, a family-owned Irish pub built on genuine Irish tradition and culture.
Italian Restaurant: Piccola Italia Ristorante may be in Manchester but its food and atmosphere feel like they could be straight out of Italy.
Italian Restaurant (Local Chain): Fratello's Italian Grille's casual American-Italian food makes it an excellent choice for a family dinner or a special date night alike. The seasonal deck in Manchester offers alfresco dining.
Japanese Restaurant: Portsmouth's Sake restaurant has a huge menu of Japanese cuisine and sushi, and serves both lunch and dinner. The chef trained in Osaka, Japan, and has over 20 years of experience with Japanese food.
Crush Pizzeria in Nashua
*Limoncello Chicken Wings: Wings are always a great nibble food, but the zesty wings at Crush Pizzeria in Nashua are loaded with lemon flavor and smoke from the wood-fired pizza oven.
*Locally Made Ravioli: The pasta fillings and pasta change with the seasons at Valicenti Organico in Hollis. Sourcing locally as much possible, Chef David Valicenti and Pastry Chef Michelle Splaine-Valicenti create a multitude of ravioli fillings, from duck confit with ginger and shittake mushrooms to roasted beet with pecorino Toscano. Beside ravioli they make specialty pastas including ancient grain and flax and orange and toasted fennel. The pasta venture started with their first product, a "Red Gravy" spaghetti sauce, seven years ago.
*Maine Lobster Ravioli: At the cozy, elegant Michele's Ristorante in Keene the pasta is fresh and handmade, but the real star of the pasta menu is the Maine Lobster Ravioli. It's hard not to love any lobster ravioli dish, but the fennel pollen-sambuca cream reduction and an interesting touch of lavender make this particular version stand out. Crab meat tops off this already decadent dish.
Mediterranean Restaurant: Giorgio's Ristorante, with locations in Milford and Merrimack, prepares all of its food using Nouveau Mediterranean techniques and high-quality ingredients.
Mexican Restaurant: Concord's Hermanos Cocina Mexicana serves lunch, dinner and margaritas daily, and showcases live jazz music Sunday through Thursday evenings.
Mexican Restaurant (Local Chain): La Carreta Mexican Restaurant now has five locations serving up authentic, yet mild, Mexican food using original recipes.
Mexican Restaurant (Regional Chain): Margaritas Mexican Restaurant is the place to go for a good time, a good meal and a good price.
Nachos: With more than 20 different options for nachos, ranging, from vegetarian options to meat lovers' dishes, Hermanos Cocina Mexicana in Concord has a little something for everyone.
Nachos (Local Chain): La Carreta Mexican Restaurants offer six nacho options from the simple cheese to Nacho Supreme with cheese, ground beef, chicken, beans, veggies, sour cream and fresh guacamole.
Nachos (Regional Chain): Two choices of nachos piled high with toppings await at Margaritas Mexican Restaurants. The Tomato Garlic Nachos are a veggie delight and the Nachos Maximo are loaded with guacamole and pickled jalapenos.
Outdoor Dining: The views of the water from this downtown Portsmouth restaurant may just manage to distract you from the Mexican-Seacoast blend cuisine. Take a seat on the patio or the deck for al fresco dining at Poco's Bow Street Cantina.
*Panzanella Salad: If you're tired of the same old salad choices, try the Panzanella Salad at XO on Elm. This dish sounds simple enough - tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions and fresh mozzarella with grilled herb bread tossed in balsamic dressing and topped with shaved parmesan and a balsamic glaze - but it's packed with harmonious flavors and textures that belie its basic ingredients. It's a lovely opener for a great meal to come.
*Pepperoni Pizza: Owner Shane Pine seeks out the best pepperoni for his wood-fired pies at The Community Oven in Hampton. This is not the grease-fest found on typical pizzas. It is made in New York from sustainably-raised pork.
Pizzeria: Portsmouth Gas Light Co. in Portsmouth offers many flavors of its signature brick oven pizza, as well as events like live music and weekly trivia nights. portsmouthgaslight.com
Pizzeria (National Chain): For the biggest slice around, head to Sal's Pizza. You'll leave feeling fufilled, guaranteed.
Pizzeria (Regional Chain): Papa Gino's pizza is made from an old Valerio family recipe that originated in Italy, which means it's some of the most authentic slices around.
Pizzeria-Gourmet: If you're looking to venture beyond the classic cheese and pepperoni pies, head to 900 Degrees in Manchester for many gourmet options in the thin-crust Neapolitan style, baked in a wood-fired oven that reaches - you guessed it - 900 degrees.
Pizzeria - Gourmet (Regional Chain): Flatbread Company uses 100 percent organic wheat and many other organic ingredients in creating their wood-fired pizzas. Feeling adventurous? Start with the seaweed salad.
*Ribs: If you're a lover of ribs, head to Margarita Grill in Glen. Find a stack of succulent pork ribs, smoked, braised and finished on the grill. Your choice of whiskey jalapeno BBQ sauce or candy apple glaze with toasted coconut. If you are lucky, they may have on special a version made with local spirit Root. Aside from being delish, you can also feel good that all their cooking is done in an environmentally sustainable way.
Sushi: Sake in Portsmouth boasts one of the largest sushi bars in the Seacoast area - perfect for the sophisticated eater.
Tapas: Nashua's Stella Blu has perfected the fine art of tapas, expanding on the Spanish staple to include Italian, Asian, Latin and American influences.
Thai Restaurant: Siam Orchid in Concord is a family-owned restaurant that uses Thai cooking techniques handed down from generation to generation. Or, for other tantalizing Thai options, check out Muse Thai Bistro, which has a wide variety of classic Thai meals and desserts.
Taqueria: Las Olas Taqueria in Exeter and Hampton uses many local ingredients, including Chorizo sausage from Greenland's Kelly Brook Farm,
From Bonta in Hampton
and offers an extensive menu of Mexican beer, wine and margaritas.
Taqueria (Local Chain): In New Hampshire, Dos Amigos Burritos is synonymous with fast, healthy and delicious Mexican fare.
Taqueria (National Chain): Chipotle may be a national chain, but it makes a real effort to support small farmers and uses sustainable products.
*Veal Polpette: The new rage in sliders is sans top bun and the hamburger is a meatball. At Bontá in Hampton Chef Kevin Riley (formerly of Brookstone Grille in Derry) has refined the whole menu and his Veal Polpette has upped the ante for the lowly meatball. They taste as pretty as they look.
*Veggie Pizzas: Vegetarians and veggie lovers are not forgotten at Portland Pie Company in Nashua and Manchester. In fact, there's a whole section of the menu devoted to creative - and tasty - veggie pizzas. With ingredients like roasted red peppers and artichoke hearts plus base choices of pesto, red sauce, olive oil and garlic, vegetarians will not be bored. Portland Pie also offers five signature crusts: beer, basil, wheat, garlic and even gluten-free.