The Gourmet Buzz

Want fast food, but not junk food? Portsmouth now has an O’Naturals restaurant to fulfill your needs. The chain-concept restaurant was started by Gary Hirshberg, president and CEO of Stonyfield Farm, based in Londonderry. This is the fourth restaurant to open and the only one in New Hampshire, aside from the lunch spot at the yogurtworks’ gift shop. On the menu are flatbread sandwiches made with organic flour, stuffed with your choice of organic chicken meat, wild Alaskan salmon, naturally raised beef, bison and, of course, vegetarian offerings. Kids are offered turkey dogs, macaroni and cheese, or baked chicken nuggets. Desserts include cheesecake — organic, of course.

There is a new Slow Food convivium in Merrimack. The leader is Michael Sampson. They are drawing members from Nashua to Manchester. E-mail him for more info:

Congratulations to all the restaurant owners mentioned in a “Boston Globe” article July 20, which reported on the growing sophistication of the food scene in southern New Hampshire. The Nashua restaurants in the story — all on Main Street — included Jasper’s Home Brew, Patisserie Blue, Michael Timothy’s Urban Bistro, Surf, San Francisco Kitchen, Cooking Matters, Martha’s Exchange and Villa Banca. It is the quality of Main Street dining that makes living in Nashua a pleasant experience. Ya Mamma’s in Merrimack and Cotton in Manchester were touted for their national recognition. Yes, southern New Hampshire has a draw for destination dining.

All Things Sicilian is the name of the shop, and it quite accurately reflects what is on the shelves. Premium olive oils, exotic jams and savory sauces are all shipped from distributors in Sicily. The sunshine and terrain of the island adds extra punch to all the products. Fresh Italian bread is delivered daily from the Lowell, Massachusetts, store. The best part is that you get to taste before you buy. And, yes, that spicy sauce is quite hot. Find easy recipes on their Web site ( and make them using their potent products. The cheesecake looks especially good.

The outdoor dining scene in Peterborough has just improved with the addition of landscaped patio space at Acqua Bistro in Peterborough’s Depot Square. New owners Pamela Parker and Tom Sidders, who is the chef, have also expanded the dining room into the space of the former La Bonne Table. Now you can have Sunday brunch under the trees with a view of the Nubanusit River. (603) 924-9905

New owner Scott Lee has given Mario’s Italian Restaurant and Seafood Grill a facelift, both inside and out. He also has brought in a new chef, Juliano Simmoncelli, who is from Venice. “Yes, he’s right off the pasta boat,” Lee says. Chef Simmoncelli previously ran Lydia Shire’s restaurant in Boston. Lee describes Mario’s as a family restaurant, where you can have anything from steak to grilled seafood to authentic Italian upscale offerings like penne putannesca or lobster fra diavalo. Look for the new face on the strip in North Conway. (603) 356-4454

Set sail on September 28 aboard the M/S Mt. Washington for an instructional and fun wine tasting event. ( NH

From the September 2003 issue of New Hampshire Magazine,