25 Great Tastes

Great restaurants serve good food, but often there are certain items on the menu that never fail to please even the most critical of palates. We offer you here a compilation of dishes, with a variety of great tastes from all across the state. They all come highly recommended, so order, relax and bon appetit!

2: { Chicken Carciofi }
Villa Banca, 194 Main St., Nashua
598-0500, www.villabanca.com

Chicken breasts sautéed with roasted red peppers, artichokes and button mushrooms in a lemon oregano sauce. A popular dish that has been on the menu since day one. The restaurant celebrates its tenth anniversary this year.

3: { Shabu Shabu }
San Francisco Kitchen, 133 Main St., Nashua
886-8833, www.sanfranciscokitchen.com

This do-it-yourself meal gives you plenty of healthy vegetables and your choice of beef, ostrich meat or seafood. A miso broth or spicier kim chee broth for cooking is heated by an element built into the table. With the divider you can try both.

4: { Sugar-cured Steak }
Buckley’s Great Steaks, 438 Daniel Webster Hwy., Merrimack
424-0995, www.buckleysgreatsteaks.com

Chef Buckley ages and cures prime beef for his steaks. The sugar-cured version is coated in a garlic demi-glaze and is just sweet enough to enhance the flavor of the beef.

5: { Corned Beef and Cabbage }
The Peddler’s Daughter, 48 Main St., Nashua
821-7537, www.thepeddlersdaughter.com

Looking for a bite of comfort, set your eyes on an imported beer and a heaping serving of tender corned beef and cabbage.

6:{ Chicken Dijon }
You You Asian Bistro, 150 Broad St., Nashua, 882-8337

Sure, their sushi is fabulous, but for a break from the raw, try the chicken Dijon. The chicken is succulent and the topping of tomatoes and mushrooms with a bit of cream add just the right touch.

7: { Hot Stone Salmon }
Surf Seafood Restaurant, 207 Main St., Nashua
595-9293, www.surfseafood.com

This salmon appetizer comes with a hot stone on which you cook your own sashimi-grade salmon. A trio of sauces accompanies the dish.

8: { The Symposium }
Giorgios, 524 Nashua St., Milford
673-3939, http://meze.giorgios.com

Can’t really describe the Symposium since it is different every night. Your chef chooses six courses from soup to dessert, all with a touch of the Sklavounos’ Greek heritage. Portions are small enough you can pace yourself through the gastronomic event.

9: { Tomato Salad }
Cotton, 75 Arms St., Manchester
622-5488, www.cottonfood.com

Chef Jeff Paige offers this salad in August when the Nesenkeag heirloom tomatoes are in peak form. A spear of fresh rosemary holds the tomatoes and mozzarella, while a pool of a pistachio-basil pesto and a bit of balsamic reduction add the dressing.

10: { Torta al Cioccolata di Oliodi Oliva }
Chocolate Olive Oil Cake, a recipe by Chef Mary Ann Esposito. The host of “Ciao Italia” has written 10 cookbooks and this cake from “Ciao Italia in Umbia” [St. Martins Press] is one of her personal favorites. Find more recipes at www.ciaoitalia.com.

Serves 8-10
Butter and flour two round cake pans, 9″ x 1 1/2″, and set aside. Preheat the oven to 350F.

3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
6 tablespoons baking cocoa
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons white vinegar
2 cups cold water
1 tablespoon vanilla

2 8-ounce packages Philadelphia Cream Cheese, at room temperature
3 1/2-4 cups confectioners sugar
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon oil or
1 tablespoon almond extract
Crystallized white sugar for sprinkling on top

Mix the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda and salt together in a large bowl. With a hand mixer on low speed beat in the oil, vinegar, vanilla and water until smooth. Pour the mixture into the prepared pans.

Bake for 30 minutes or until a cake skewer inserted in the center of the cakes comes out clean. Do not over bake the cake.

Put the cake pans on cooling racks and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before removing the cakes from the pans to cool completely. Frost when cool.

Beat the cream cheese in a bowl until smooth; gradually add in enough of the sugar to make a smooth frosting that is not runny. Stir in the cinnamon oil or the almond extract.

Frost the cake layers and sprinkle the crystal sugar over the top. Or, if you are making cupcakes, frost them and sprinkle the tops with the sugar. Cut the cake into wedges to serve.

Variation: For an artistic effect use a pastry bag with a star tip and pipe the frosting in long curls.

11: { Seared Salmon }
Brookstone Grill, 14 Rte. 111, Derry
328-9250, www.brookstone-park.com

A salmon fillet in a creamy lobster sauce with a fresh corn succotash — its like a lobster bake on a plate, as prepared by Chef David Smith, formerly of Loafers in Salem.

12: { Seafood Ceviche }
A Taste of Europe, 827 Elm St., Manchester 296-0292, www.atasteofeuropenh.com

Seafood components are “cooked” in a citrus dressing for a bright and light appetizer.

13: { Tilapia }
Luca’s Mediterranean Café
10 Central Square, Keene
358-3335, www.lucascafe.com

Champagne and cilantro brighten this seafood dish. Want to make it at home? The recipe is online on Luca’s site.

14: { Shrimp Sauté }
Nicola’s Trattoria
39 Central Square, Keene, 355-5242

This shrimp sauté is the dish that Chef Nicola once used to woo his bride. It is small enough that there is room for the cioppino, too.

15: { Tortelloni di Formaggio }
Carpaccio Ristorante Italiano, Hanover Park, 3 Lebanon St., Hanover, 643-8600

Tortelloni di Formaggio Caprino, Salsa di Arancia e Polline di Finocchio is a mouth full. Literally, the large hat-shaped pasta is stuffed with goat cheese, thyme and sage, then sautéed with fresh orange juice, dried orange peels and fennel pollen. Yes, a savory mouthful.

16: { Duck }
55 Degrees, 55 N. Main St., Concord
224-7192, www.55degreesnh.com

It doesn’t matter how Chef Cory Fletcher presents the sliced duck breast seasonally — it is always anointed with a perfect sauce. Better yet, it comes in a small serving size so there is room to try other specials.

17: {The Chocolate Bag}
Bedford Village Inn, 2 Olde Bedford Way
Bedford, 472-2001

A dessert presentation almost too pretty to eat, this signature chocolate dessert is made with premium chocolate and filled with a mix of white and dark chocolate mousses, berries and Chambord sponge cake.

18: { Garlic Bread }
Lucia’s Tavola, 181 Route 13, Brookline

If you love garlic bread and anchovies, this starter will put you in the right frame of mind. This is the way Lucia’s grandmother made it.

19: { Scallop Appetizer}
Speakers Corner
The Crowne Plaza Hotel
2 Somerset Parkway, Nashua
886-1200 www.crowneplazanashua.com

Sea scallops wrapped in New Hampshire cob smoked bacon presented on a tangerine paired with basil-walnut pesto and basil-infused olive oil for the perfect accent.

20: { Mushroom Crêpe }
The Wellington Room, 67 Bow St.
Portsmouth, 355-5242

Chef David Robinson fills a delicate crepe with fresh wild mushrooms and sautés them with shallots and fresh thyme. Cheese mousse, chive oil and mushroom syrup add the perfect accent.

21: { Cured Halibut }
The Dunaway Restaurant, Strawbery Banke
Portsmouth, 373-6112

Executive Chef Ben Hasty cures the halibut fillets in a salt-sugar-and-spice mixture, then smokes it over smoldering applewood coals, not to cook it, but to impart a smoky taste. To finish, the fish is sautéed in a mixture of clarified plugra butter and canola oil with a sprig of thyme to infuse more flavor.

22: { Bouillabaisse }
Café Mirabelle, 64 Bridge St., Portsmouth, 430-9301

Chef Stephan’s version of the classic stew with lobster meat, scallops, shrimp, salmon and mussels in a lobster tomato saffron bouillon. The aioli canapé are perfect for soaking up the succulent sauce.

23: { Steak au Poivre }
Orchard Street Chop Shop, One Orchard Street, Dover
749-0006, www.orchardstreetchopshop.com

Dig into a huge 10-ounce filet covered with a brandy cream sauce and seasoned with pepper. A choice of sides includes buttermilk mashed potatoes and hefty grilled asparagus.

24: { Duck Leg Confit }
The Black Trumpet Bistro, 29 Ceres St., Portsmouth
431-0887, www.blacktrumpetbistro.com

Duck Leg Confit on a bistro bean salad tossed in yogurt-thyme dressing is served as a medium-sized dish. The light and bright dressing is the perfect foil for the rich duck.

25: { Oysters Rockefeller }
O Steak and Seafood, Lake Opechee Inn
62 Doris Ray Court, Lakeport, 355-5242

Tender oysters, deep fried and served on a porcelain spoon with a mix of spinach and bacon and cheese — the classic as re-envisioned by Chef Scott Ouelette.