Hot New Restaurants

A host of new restaurants have opened over the past year, each presenting the passion of the chef/owners in rooms with inviting colorful palettes and tables caressed with flavorful plates.

Zerious fun

It’s a hit parade of favorite dishes, says Tom Puskarich, owner of Z. With experience managing in California and at regional restaurants including Café Pavone and the Bedford Village Inn, Puskarich knows what people are looking for. Along with his partner Maureen Cidzik and Chef du Cuisine David Federschneider, he has created a restaurant focusing on creative renditions of traditional menu items in a fun atmosphere. Each table in the storefront restaurant has a simple game or puzzle to amuse the diners, and the rich colors and décor are thoroughly inviting. A “squiggle” design is carried out in the chairs and lighting adds to the fun. Signature menu items include day boat scallops paired with cucumber noodles, opal basil aioli, chive oil and saffron risotto. ($22)

Z Food and Drink 860 Elm St., Manchester
Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Dinner Monday through Thursday 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m., Friday and Saturday 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday 4 p.m. to 9p.m.

Ciao Baby
A taste of indulgence

Owners Bob Haur and Chris Haten have transformed the former cool and contemporary Baldwins On Elm space to a rich and romantic hideaway. Deep red walls, a touch of exotic upholstery and TVs silently playing Italian classic movies quickly evoke an Italian ambience. Chef John Circharo, with experience in Miami and New York City, serves up a classic Italian menu with updated twists.The appropriately short menu features just enough items to please any diner. From an arugula salad to zuppe de pesce they have the bases covered with flavorful sauces and plenty of garlic. Chef Circharo’s rigatoni is served with a Neopolitan-style “Sunday” sauce, inspired by his grandmother’s slow-cooked pork shoulder. Later in the evening, around 10 p.m., you will find a night club atmosphere with room for dancing and an imposing sound system.
Ciao Baby
1105 Elm St., Manchester
(603) 626-0001
Open for dinner at 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, Sunday 1 p.m. to 9 p.m. and lunch Monday through Friday.

Viva Latin-American cuisine

Chef Phelps Dieck and Manager Deb Weeks have done it again. Their wildly popular Green Monkey in Portsmouth sunk the competition across Pleasant Street and recently they reinvented the real estate for a culinary journey south of the border. A Latin take on food — from ceviche to Adobo seasoning to marinades of garlic, lime cilantro and oregano — all seasoning fresh seafood, Wolfes Neck Farm steaks and Misty Knoll poultry. Their creative take on Latin flavors will take you where the usual bistro fare fears to tread. The engaging atmosphere and infectious music will make you want to sway while your palate dances to the beat.
75 Pleasant St.
(603) 431-0050
Monday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to close

Something sweet and more

Master Baker Steve James brought the best of The Balsams’ bakery staff to Portsmouth to fill dessert cases with eye-popping popovers, encrusted cheesecakes and other delectable calories-be-damned concoctions. The charming space has quickly become the place to meet over coffee. Stay for lunch and you will find interesting sandwiches, salads and pizzettas. Return for dinner and enjoy light entrées and imbibe from a limited wine and martini list. Dinner specials include a dessert — why bother to resist? Sunday Teas ($15 for two) include coffee or tea and a selection of pastries.
Popovers on the Square Market Square
8 Congress St. Portsmouth
(603) 431-1119
Open 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Fun down under

Business is flourishing in Littleton for owners Stacy Northrup and Teresa Tupaj. Their new restaurant Bailiwicks opened just three months ago in the lower level of the Thayers Inn, but their enthusiasm, paired with a savvy knowledge of the business garnered from previous experience, has made Bailiwicks a hot location to dine. The rustic environment with exposed brick and beams, low ceilings and rich dark tones make the space cozy and inviting. The menu by Eric Kadle, formerly of the Clam Shell, offers both light and spicy foods and comforting chicken Wellington ($16) encased in puff pastry and a huge double-bone prime rib ($21). Wine selections for each dish are suggested on the menu with a surprising variety of wines available by the glass.
111 Main St., Littleton
(603) 444-7717

Tim-Bir Alley
Home again

After 12 years in Bethlehem, Tim and Biruta Carr are once again in Littleton, not far from the “alley” location that established their name. A former storefront was recently transformed into a high-ceilinged space with exposed brick walls lined with works by local artists. Tim is a self-taught chef whose creative takes on seafood, meats and desserts taste as good as they sound. Imagine a cinnamon-scented duck breast on roasted pears with a cranberry-port sauce. Carr offers just seven entrées a night but the seasonal menu is changed every week. He works alone so the limited menu helps maintain quality. Don’t miss dessert; his 24 years of experience and experiments have paid off here, too.
Tim-Bir Alley Restaurant
7 Main St., Littleton
(603) 444-6142

Upscale interlude

Gerardo Tona and his wife Kate were coaxed into moving back to the area by Kate’s parents, Antony and Georgia Scaringe. Together, the four are running a fine ship at the former location of R.A. Gatto’s. Kate prepares lunch and Gerardo oversees dinner as they split the workload. The two met at the California Culinary Academy and then worked in high-end restaurants in the San Francisco area. Here, Chef Tona has a creative touch with contemporary American cuisine. His bacon-wrapped chicken breast ($18) adds just the right level of succulence and, as in the other entrées, shows restraint that focuses on the flavor. “Keep it simple,” he says.
6 School St., Peterborough
Lunch 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Monday-Saturday Dinner 5 p.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday A la Carte Sunday bunch 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

Coe House
Dining in fine style

What could be a better partnership for an upscale restaurant than a dedicated chef and an interior designer? John Richard and Home Comfort owner Luke Dupuis have revitalized the landmark building into a beautiful showplace. The dining areas on two levels remain in separate rooms, each with their own décor style. On the lower level, the Presidents room (right) has been designed to complement the original hand-painted French wallpaper from the 1840s. For a special dining occasion request the cupola — an intimate space for two atop the building with 360-degree views of the lake and surrounding area. Chef Richard features Contemporary American cuisine, with upscale presentations of seafood and steak, including a dry-aged sirloin ($38). “Small plate” selections include an artisanal cheese plate ($14) and Hudson Valley foie gras $(12). Recently, they added an à la carte brunch on Sunday that includes items such as steak frites with eggs and stuffed French toast.
Coe House
Senters Market Rte. 25 B, Center Harbor
(603) 253-8617
Open 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., 5 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Seven days a week

Saffron Bistro
A sophisticated affair

Owners Ben Mercuri and Chef Joseph Drift wanted to give Nashua diners an elegant place to dine. Indeed, the total renovation of former office space is filled with beautiful architectural detail and a pleasing combination of warm yellows and reds, and was totally Mercuri’s design. Thursday through Saturday you can listen to a pianist playing Sinatra or Billy Joel tunes. Mercuri, formerly of the Andover Inn, had the ambience of a fine hotel in mind when he began this quest. The adjoining bar is a bit more casual and features a beautiful marble-topped bar. Drift prepares food in the French technique and offers a country-style pâté ($10) and a nice Australian rack of lamb with chickpea frites ($27). At lunch you will find a lobster ravioli ($12) with generous chunks of lobster and a sauce infused with saffron. The Kobe beef burger ($11) is a classic burger with American Kobe.
Saffron Bistro
82 Main St., Nashua
(603) 883-2100
Monday through Friday for lunch; Wednesday through Sunday for dinner at 5 p.m.

Take in the view

It took six months for owners Stephen and Karen Williams to make their dream restaurant come true in the former location of an alternative health store. Now, the two-level space engages the senses with rich detail in dark woods and marble. The serpentine bar offers a unique and pleasurable setting for conversation or views of Nashua through the large plate-glass windows. In the dining room, a second bar adjoins the open kitchen where you can watch the chef prepare your meal. The Williams partnered with Chef Constantine Brianas (formerly of the Black Orchid, a few streets down) to realize their menu with Tuscan overtones. Chef Brianas enjoys “laying” flavors with food combinations he learned while working with Todd English. A popular appetizer is the pumpkin pillows with soft gnocchi and shrimp in a highly layered sauce that starts with roasted corncobs ($9). You will find most dishes are complex and robust formulations that challenge the palate.
47 East Pearl St., Nashua
(603) 821-6500
Tuesday through Sunday from 5 p.m. until close; Lunch, Monday through Friday is planned.

Fresh face

After the birth of their son two years ago, Ron and Jennifer McPhall decided that good food really mattered. Ron says, “The book ‘Fast Food Nation’ scared me, suddenly it is important what kind of food I would be feeding my son, and that he make the right choices. Chicken fingers and pizza would not do.” When the opportunity to do something positive appeared recently, McPhall gave up his corporate job managing institutional food and opened Seasons. The restaurant was inspired by a recent trip to Provence by the couple. From the sunflowers and French enamel cookware to the infused soups and stews, McPhall is creating a small-scale restaurant with all the romance and flavor of France. Next door, at the retail Marketplace, he serves lunch and offers local food and condiments to help spread the word about local producers. As a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America he has the background to create interesting food from the Soupe au Pistou, a classic Provencal garlic-and-basil (locally harvested) infused vegetable soup to the rack of lamb Persillade, with a parsley and rosemary crust. McPhall is inspired by farmers and roams the local markets in season for weekly specials.
Seasons Restaurant and Marketplace
56 Main St., Enfield
(603) 623-7256

Bistro Nouveau
Location, Location.

Chef/Owner Doug Langevin took a daring leap when he moved his popular bistro from Claremont to Eastman. His fans, and staff followed and now a new audience, members of the community of Eastman, enjoy his fresh and affordable take on new American cuisine. The restaurant remains open to the general public offering hits from the past like his Southwestern egg roll ($8) with pulled chicken, black beans, corn and Monterrey Jack cheese and Worcestershire-glazed rib eye ($19) with mashed red bliss potatoes and caramelized onion green beans. Not to worry about quality, the dining committee at Eastman keeps him on his toes. Look for fresh Walpole Creamery ice cream on the dessert menu.
Bistro Nouveau
The Center at Eastman
6 Clubhouse Lane Grantham
(603) 863-8000