Best of NH 2016 Pizzerias and Ethnic Food Restaurants
Editor's Pick for wood-fired pizza, Pig Tale. Photo by Susan Laughlin
Bangkok Noodles: If the three-chili-pepper icon on the Drunken Noodles scares you, test the waters of spicy Thai with the less-hot (only two chili pepper icons) Bangkok Noodles at Muse Thai Bistro in Manchester. Add your choice of meat or keep it vegetarian — either way, the combo of a nice heat level, crisp carrots, bell peppers, onions, curry sauce and egg noddle is delicious. Next time forgo the usual Pad Thai and order this dish instead.
Cheese and Charcuterie Plate: The Foundry in Manchester is focused on local sources, which you’ll find in a number of dishes. Get a cheese tour of the state by building a cheese and charcuterie plate with tasty offerings from Brookford Farm, Robie Farm, Hickory Nut Farm and more.
Fresh Take on Greek Cuisine: John Tinios of the Galley Hatch has fulfilled his dream of a truly Greek restaurant with Tinos Greek Kitchen in Hampton. You may not find moussaka here, but you will find a new take on Greek cuisine — fresh fish (including octopus), perfect saganaki and, of course, Greek-style coffee. The appetizer-size mezzes are a perfect place to start exploring. Thanks to Executive Chef Mark Segal, lamb never tasted so good. The setting is modern and welcoming and the fire pit on the screened porch is great for cooler evenings.
General Store Pizza: Keeping a local general store operating is always an uphill battle. Sometimes it requires an extreme measure, like building a granite-and-clay outdoor oven and throwing a pizza party on Saturday nights in the summer. That’s the formula for success for South Acworth Village Store, where, on one particularly busy night, they cooked about 45 pizzas for hungry locals (not bad for a town of about 850). Pizza man (and board member for the community-run store) Jim Neidert says, along with the usual toppings, they always come up with a popular “special” pizza that sells well. Recent offerings have included prosciutto, parsnips and onions or asparagus, red peppers and garlic and even a mashed potato pizza. (Sounds weird, but people loved it, says Neidert.)
Homemade Pasta: At the bottom of the pasta offerings on Villaggio’s menu is a simple paragraph that lists your choice of homemade fresh egg angel hair or fettucine served with your favorite sauce. Yes, you’ll have to pass up a number of delicious, classic Italian dishes at this tucked-away restaurant in Manchester, but there’s nothing like a simple, comforting bowl of perfect pasta. We suggest the classic marinara, but the pesto and Bolognese are both delicious as well.
Korean & Japanese Cuisine: At Sushiya in Hanover you can try the best of two excellent Asian cuisines — Japanese and Korean. For starters, we recommend you try the very good Japanese ramen dishes and then explore the Korean side of things with the bibimbap, which is one of the more well-known Korean dishes of rice topped with vegetables, egg and sliced meat.
Korean Pork Burrito: Fusion is no longer new in the foodie world, and as experiments get more, shall we say, out there, not all dishes are a hit. However, we’re sure glad that Wellington’s Marketplace in Concord dreamed up the Korean pork burrito. A warm tortilla is stuffed with pork, scallions, Sriracha sauce and savoy cabbage for a unique, crunchy, savory and, above all, delicious Mexican/Korean meal.
Latin Fusion: Trade the traditions of New England for the spice of Latin America at Marlborough’s Piedra Fina. Inspired by the owners’ backgrounds in Venezuelan, Cuban and Mexican cuisine, the menu of tapas, tacos, arepas and various large plates features the best of many Central and South American nations.
Mac & Cheese Waffles: The Little Crêperie is a new addition to the recently revived downtown of Concord, and it fits right in to the new pedestrian-friendly model of calmed traffic and sidewalk tables. The crêpes are excellent, but what caught our attention was mac and cheese waffles, which brilliantly apply the deep crisping of the waffle iron to the cheesiness of the mac and cheese. The result is buttery and brown and quite portable if you’d like to eat it with one hand while strolling downtown.
Modern Italian: It’s little wonder that chef-owner Harris Welden produces exceptional Italian at Peterborough’s Bantam Grill — the Greenfield native cut his culinary teeth with a three-year stint at Chicago’s Michelin-starred Spiaggia before returning to the Granite State in 2010. Everything from the pasta to the bread is made in-house at Bantam, and much of the produce and meat is locally sourced. Welden’s innovative Italian dishes, like strangozzi with lamb ragu and sweet pea angolotti, aren’t your mom’s spaghetti and meatballs, but they’re sure to delight.
Northern Bistro: Chef’s Bistro in North Conway is a cozy, neighborhood restaurant with a menu that’s both familiar and adventurous. The usual items – like the bistro burger – are elevated with local ingredients like grass-fed beef and Vermont cheddar. Try small plates like ahi tuna or mac and cheese with wild mushrooms, build a charcuterie plate or head to the entrées for pasta Bolognese or seared scallops. Special attention is given to vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and kids’ options. Everyone will feel at home here.
One-stop Italian Shop: Piccolo Italian Market in Moultonborough offers the best of Italy, from daily specials such as housemade sausage or eggplant rollatini to made-to-order pizzas, a slew of sandwiches including the meatball sub with homemade meatballs and more. Plus, visit the deli for a nice selection of cheese (mozzarella is made right there), Italian meats and olives to build your own antipasto platter or stock up on dried pasta, olive oils and more staples.
Tarkaris: There’s much to love about the Nepalese cuisine at Base Camp Café in Hanover. However, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out the tarkari section of the menu. This tasty tomato-based curry sauce is served with your choice of meat or vegetables. The choices are varied and plentiful, from vegan-friendly beans and mushroom to eggplant and basil, chicken, calamari, lamb and much more.
Turkish Scratch-made Dinner: It may be 4,800 miles from Istanbul, but this small restaurant in Hillsborough serves up Turkish food that tastes fresh from the motherland. Housed in an electric-blue Victorian on Henniker Street, Mediterrano Turkish & Mediterranean Restaurant offers a carefully curated selection of Mediterranean classics. Try the traditional lavash bread with appetizers like baba ghanoush and tahini-infused hummus, and feast on scratch-made main courses of lamb, beef, grilled vegetables and more made by Turkish-born owners John Kalem and Ibrahim Bilgin.
Veal Braciole: As is befitting this Portsmouth restaurant’s rustic Italian menu, the veal braciole at Louie’s is simply described as coming with carrots, yellow corn polenta and pine nuts. As many food lovers know, sometimes it’s the deceptively simple dishes that are the most sublime. If meat isn’t for you, never fear — there are a number of outstanding pasta dishes even meat lovers will find hard to pass up. The agnolotti with peas, sweet onion and Parmigiano is a standout.
Wood-Fired Pizza: Tucked into a strip mall on Rte. 101 in Nashua, Pig Tale doesn’t look like the likeliest place to find delicious gourmet pizza — but that’s exactly what they’ve got. The massive wood-burning oven in the corner of the restaurant churns out pies with a deliciously smoky, charred crust, and the menu offers a variety of exotic ingredients. Try the signature Pig Tale with three kinds of pork, pickled onions and an out-of-this-world barbecue sauce finish.