XO on Elm
Rosa Paolini likes to stay on top of trends or even start them. Her hip restaurant was one of the first Manchester restaurants to offer a tapas menu, and she continues to broaden that menu with small plates and entrées with a Mediterranean influence and beyond. Popular tapas are the lamb lollipops ($10) and the camarones al ajillo (shrimp sautéed in garlic). ($9)
Her latest innovation is tableside cooking. Her aunt, also named Rosa, is a chef and master sommelier. Both will be preparing the special entrée of the evening for guests at their table for a bit of dinner theater flair. Diners can ask questions about the preparation, discover tips for making it at home and find out where Rosa’s local ingredients are sourced. Even sangria, a popular summertime drink, will be made tableside with fresh fruits of the season. On Mondays and Tuesdays, guests are invited to bring their own wine, maybe a special wine they have been saving, to enjoy with a great dinner ($5 corkage fee). Also find interesting drink infusions macerating on the bar back as part of the creative martini list.
When the weather warms, dining al fresco at XO is very popular with comfortable couch and high-top table seating.
XO on Elm
827 Elm St., Manchester
4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., Monday through Thursday
4:30 p.m. to 12 a.m., Friday and Saturday
Italian Easter Lamb Stew
Recipe by Rosa Paolini, XO on Elm
Rosa is from the beautiful town of Gravina in Puglia, Italy. She relates the story of this historic dish where local shepherds stuff their pockets with herbs and greens from the fields as they tend their flock of sheep. Spring is lambing time and a few that do not survive are made into this simple stew cooked in a pot heated on a makeshift fire pit in the field. Serves 4.
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 lamb loin chops
4 green onions
2 bulbs of fennel
1 bunch broccoli rabe
1 hot pepper
2 baby bok choy
2 cups broccoli crowns
1 1/2 cups dry white wine
1 1/2 cups water
8 cherry tomatoes
Brown lamb chops in olive oil in the bottom of a heavy stock pot. Add wine and water, and bring up to a simmer for five minutes. Add onions, fennel, broccoli rabe, broccoli and bok choy and cook until tender; about five to eight minutes. Toss in cherry tomatoes. Salt to taste. Serve with the fronds of fennel as garnish and an artisanal bread.
More great lamb recipes can be found at americanlamb.com.