Saturday, December 26, 2009

180 Restaurant & Bar-N. Hampton, NH

Specializing in Wood Fired Pizzas, 180 Restaurant & Bar has potential to be a really good pizza restaurant. It has taken over the location on Lafayette Rd (Rt. 1) that was formally Rosario's. They completely renovated the space and with limited seating (42) and a small bar area (seats 11) makes this establishment quite cozy. They installed a few big screen TVs also which makes watching a game while dining entertaining. Owned by 2 friends, Graham Pellerin and Brendon MacMahan of Kingston, N.H. and opened in May 2009 they are serving up some really good wood fired pizzas at a good prices (smalls average $11 and the large pizzas $15). It's nice that one of the owners if not both are working and I have always had decent service when I have gone for dinner or lunch although I don't think I have had the same waitress twice. I enjoy the Rockingham pizza which has bacon, goat cheese, caramelized onions and mushrooms. The Italian Sausage pizza is good too. I wasn't that impressed with the Chicken Parmesan dinner ($13.95) or with their other claim to fame which is the wood fired chicken wings ($10.95) that are topped with caramelized onions and served with points of flat bread. The presentation of the wood fired wings plate is appetizing, but they weren't evenly cooked and many of them were dry. The marinade I believe is prepared by Brendon's mom and although it does have some nice flavor to it, there just is something missing. The points of flat bread they are served with are dry crisps and the plate can do without them. Maybe thicker cuts of garlic toast would work better. There are a few sandwich options on the menu averaging around $7.95 each. I'm not a big sandwich fan when dining out and I have tried the chicken Parmesan and meatball sub, but again, they were both a little dry. Not enough flavorful sauce or cheese to really enjoy.
They offer a specials menu that they print out on a small piece of paper with even smaller print and nothing that has yet to knock my socks off. I do love a good wood fired pizza, but I wonder if 180's got that extra something to make it as a restaurant here on the Seacoast. They don't seem to be bringing their "A game". I hope that they are able to get it together and go that extra mile now in the beginning in order to survive. I think they need to have that fire in their bellies to make it happen like the one that is cooking up their pizzas.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Pierogies Plus, Inc. McKees Rocks, PA-online orders

My parents grew up in Pittsburgh, PA. My fathers family is Slovic. My Grandma and my Uncle still live there and I have fond memories of helping to prepare and eating a variety of Eastern European foods that were made by my grandmother or my aunt or from my grandparents neighbors and brought over while we visited. I remember one of my favorite ethnic foods when visiting in Pittsburgh with my family were homemade Pierogies, made by the senior woman at a local church. They are a Polish traditional food, crescent-shaped, tender dumplings filled with a variety of fillings and very hard to find made the traditional way here in New England. Sure you can buy frozen ones at almost any grocery store sold by Mrs. T's, but although they are good, they still are not what homemade, traditional ones taste like. Believe me, I have looked for them, for years. I even recently found a family in Bedford, NH that sells them, but they were not what I remembered so my search has continued and recently brought me to the website of Pierogies Plus. I noticed too that Bobby Flay has had them on his Food Nation show so thought that was nice that they have been recognized nationally (although I have disagreed with Bobby Flay on a few restaurant recommendations and my father and I have had that discussion with him in person-that's another story though).
Pierogies Plus, Inc. opened in June, 1991 and is owned by Helene Mannarino who emigrated to the United States from Poland in 1974. Their foods are prepared in the eastern European tradition by eastern Europeans. The staff comes from Poland, Belarus, Russia and Ukraine. Many of them have been preparing these recipes for over 40 years! It's no wonder they are known for having the most authentic pierogies around. Seems like a wonderful little family-like business environment. Each pierogie is made by hand with (according to them) TLC. They just started shipping their pierogies again since they don't do that in the warmer months so I thought I would give them a shot and ordered 2 of the traditional pierogie flavors that I know well and love, the potato and cheese stuffed pierogies and the sauerkraut stuffed pierogies. You can order them by the dozen via their website and the traditional flavors are $10.95 a dozen and the specialty ones are $11.95 a dozen. They also have sampler packages too. I stick to what I know I like, but my grandfather and my dad always enjoyed the Lekvor pierogies (prune butter) and my mom favors the cottage cheese stuffed pierogies. We also call these little pillows of goody goodness, BELLY BUSTERS, ha ha ha. Have some and you will understand why.
I placed my order of 2 dozen potato and cheese and 1 dozen sauerkraut. I received a nice little email notice a few days later from the owner, Helen Mannarino letting me know my order had been filled and was on its way and to God Bless. I waited patiently for them to arrive via FedEx ground. They arrive ready to cook and are very easy to prepare. I always either boil them and then toss them with melted butter and onion or skip the boiling and saute them in melted butter and onion. When they arrived, I boiled them first for 3 to 5 mins and topped them with the sauteed onions and melted butter that I had cooked up. I'm not going to lie, I was nervous about having them. I have been let down a few times over the years by trying different pierogie makers and companies. I served them up to my parents and we sat down at dinner and took our first bites. Immediately, we were delighted! They were exactly how I remember they were having them as a child when visiting my Grandma and Grandpa in Pittsburgh, PA. DELICIOUS!!!!! I don't even think my parents and I spoke much while we had dinner that night, that is how much we were enjoying these pierogies! I was glad I ordered extra in case they were exactly what I was searching for because now I have more to share with friends! I recently introduced pierogies to my friend Heather and her family and her kids love them. They buy Mrs. T's because they are inexpensive and readily available, but I definitely will be passing Heather along the Pierogies Plus, Inc. website so that she can order some online and share with her family the taste what real, homemade pierogies are meant to taste like.
I have never blogged about ordering food online until now, but I wanted to share this with all of you in case you have ever had pierogies before and were also searching for them or if you would be so inclined to give them a try. Pierogies Plus, Inc. makes several varieties some of which sound great and perhaps eventually I will get around to trying, but if you have never had them before and you are curious, I highly recommend that you start with an order of the potato and cheese stuffed pierogies and see if you too fall in love with these wonderful little pillows of deliciousness from Pierogies Plus, Inc.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Restaurant Week-Portsmouth

November 8th-15th 2009

It's back and it's great! Take advantage of it!
Featuring special 3-course prix fixe menus: lunch $16.95 per person, dinner $29.95 per person (does not include beverages, taxes or gratuity) at participating restaurants throughout Portsmouth and the Seacoast. Restaurant Week Portsmouth is a bi-annual culinary event which spotlights Greater Portsmouth as a culinary and cultural destination. Wine & dine, shop & gallery hop, visit the theatre, and make it a getaway. Area hotels and inns offer special rates & packages during the event.
*Please note: Restaurants will not accept discount cards or other offers during Restaurant Week. Reservations highly recommended - diners must contact the individual restaurant(s) of their choice.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Ron's Landing, Hampton, N.H.

379 Ocean Blvd
Hampton, N.H.

Open year round, Wednesday through Sundays from 4pm to close, Ron's Landing has some nice ocean front dining options. If you're going for a relaxed setting for dinner along Route 1A with ocean views, the menu options here at Ron's Landing are a good bang for your buck. Honestly, I have never had dinner here in the downstairs dinning room or the upstairs dinning area along the windows that overlook the North Beach, but I have been many times to have dinner in the upstairs lounge. I enjoy that in addition to the regular dinner menu options, if you get a table in the lounge, they also have a GREAT selection on their pub menu. Ron's also has a lighter fare menu with excellent meal choices on it. The prices are lower and the portions are still large and that is what I think a lot of us are looking for these days, good food at good prices and the pub menu and lighter fare menu at Ron's Landing provides that. There is live entertainment on Friday and Sunday evenings in the lounge. Usually it's a one or two man band that squishes into the corner of the bar area, but the music is good and the bar is often filled with locals. The have an extensive wine list, but I often just opt for the house Cabernet which is Sycamore Lane and only $5.95 a glass. The food has been consistently good (with one exception of a mishap my father had with a fried haddock sandwich and a piece of metal that broke off the fryer basket, but that was taken care of). The service however on occasion has been less than desirable. The bartenders work the tables in the lounge for the most part and are friendly and on top of things which makes for a a nice and relaxing evening. It can get pretty busy in the lounge, so you might have to wait a bit to score a high table or a few seats at the bar, but it's worth the short wait. I sometimes order for dinner off of the appetizer menu, the Sea Scallops wrapped in bacon served with sweet pepper soy dipping sauce $(11.95). It's that sweet pepper soy dipping sauce that separates these treats from the sea from ones I have had at other restaurants. The sauce brings a new taste that is well matched to the scallops. Off of the pub menu, I like the Bistro Burger ($9.95) which is an 8 oz Angus sirloin burger served with fries and a pickle, the Chicken Parmesan ($12.95) is worth every penny. You get a large, juicy chicken cutlet that is pan fried and topped with marinara, Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese and served on a mound of Cavatappi pasta. I don't think I have ever been able to finish the whole portion, but a few of my guy friends sure can. The last two dishes I wanted to mention are on the Lighter Fare menu and they are the Toasted Almond Salmon ($15.95) served with Hoisin glaze, over a Frangelico cream with sliced apple and toasted almonds, accompanied by house blended rice (but I hate that the rice is in a mold shape, it just doesn't look right served like that). Lastly, my favorite dish here at Ron's Landing is the Chicken Fontinella ($13.95), a sautéed chicken breast with prosciutto, sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts and spinach, tossed with fresh egg fettuccine, finished with fontina cheese and a balsamic reduction. I love, love, love this dish (picture shown). Each time I have had it, it has been cooked perfectly and the fresh egg fettuccine is very good.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Maine Oyster Festival in York Cancelled for 2009

For those seacoast supporters who were wondering if it was or wasn't going to happen this year, I'm sorry to say we are going without the Oyster Fest this year. I'm quoting below what was posted on the York Lobster and Seafood BLOG:
"The decision has been made to cancel this year's Oyster Fest. While we all had a great time during the first 2 years, this year has seen hard times for Maine Oyster Growers. With all the rain we had this spring, the harvest in Maine was shut down for almost two months. The economic impact this had on the local growers was significant. We felt it would be an added stress on these growers to donate quantities of oysters to the event this year. "
For my fellow oyster lovers, we will just have to get out there and support all our hot spots that are serving up the local farms oysters and enjoy what we can while we can!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

La Chiquita Mexican Restaurant & Cantina-Salisbury, MA

188 Lafayett Rd (Route 1)
Salisbury, MA
I think I have driven by La Chiquita Restaurant & Cantina at least fifty times in the past year and a half it has been located on Rt 1 in Salisbury, MA. Never would I have known about this diamond in the rough if not for a tip from a friend to give it a try.
Family owned and operated, Ricardo (O.K, Richard) will welcome you as a part of his family and bring the true, traditional, authentic flavors of Mexico. Sure, the building is nothing special and the decor is far from fancy, but take my word for it friends, the Mexican food served up here daily will blow you away. Open 7 days a week, serving a FULL menu until 1am (yup, 1am), you just have to give it a try. The Cantina offers you over 200 different types of Tequila (see picture of Ricardo in front of the Tequila wall) and they don't mess around with their Margarita mix here either. It's made right in house in the traditional Mexico style. I had the opportunity to attend one of Ricardo's Tequila 101 dinners which are now being offered every Monday night at 7pm. For only $29.95, you can learn all about Tequila, sample 3 different types hand picked by Ricardo, have dinner AND enjoy a house margarita with your choice of one of the three Tequilas you sampled. I learned about the 5 points of Tequila, why some leave me with huge headaches the next day and why some do not.
The food is amazing. The flavors bold and fresh. Everything is house made from the chips and salsa served up at 3 different heat levels, to the tortillas and the cactus salad. As part of my dinner, I chose the El Indio dinner combination plate ($12.99 on the menu). It included a huge side cactus salad (a cold pear cactus salad with fresh tomato, onion, cilantro, lime juice) and a chicken tamale. One bite of my tamale and I knew immediately I will be a new regular here. It was better than the tamale I enjoyed while visiting my friend Amy in San Diego who took me to a farmers market. I don't think there wasn't a clean plate in my group at the end of our meal. Two fellow diners had the Zapatas combination plate ($11.99) and they both inhaled the chile relleno (a battered cheese stuffed poblano pepper) that came along side a beef or chicken burrito. Another diner in the group went for the La Suiza ($10.99) which has 3 enchiladas, one chicken, one cheese and one beef served up with green and red sauce. All the combination plates are served with rice and beans. At the end of the Tequila 101 lesson and meal, we enjoyed our margaritas and it was seriously one of the best margaritas I have ever had.
In addition to the Monday night Tequila 101 dinners there is different entertainment nightly including Latin dance lessons on Tuesdays. If you go and have to drag a friend or two that aren't big fans of Mexican food, don't worry, they also have nightly American dinner specials and the Wednesday night all you can eat BBQ for only $10.00 is hard to beat. He even will host this by request for a larger group or gathering on the weekends if you call and ask him to. There is also a 2000 square foot patio off the back that is great in the summer. You can even play KENO while you dine if you want to. I have a friend Kristin that I think is a closet junky for that game. All football season you can watch the Patriots games and every time the Pats score a touchdown, they serve everyone a Mystery Margarita shot. What is it you ask? Well, any tequila bottles that have 2 ounces or less at the end of the night Ricardo pours into one large container, mixes it up with the house margarita mix and you have the next days Mystery Margarita (color and taste changes daily and it is on the Margarita menu for $7.50). All the Margaritas are 16 oz servings too and you don't see that often around these parts with the short pours. Every Thursday night during the month of October, Ricardo is running the Rocky Horror picture show at 10pm and in January there will be Mexican cooking classes offered. The next time you want authentic, good, homemade Mexican food, make the trip to Salisbury, MA and tell Ricardo your friend the Seacoast blogger sent you.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Anneke Jans- Kittery, Maine

60 Wallingford Square-
Open all week from 5pm to close.
Downtown Kittery is often missed. Most people who travel into the area, scoot right up to the outlets and never really find themselves in the small, quaint heart of downtown Kittery. That's a shame really since perfectly placed on the corner, there is a wonderful little restaurant very well known to the locals called Anneke Jans. Owned by Donna Ryan and Andy Livingston this bistro style joint fills up fast and rightly so. Chef Charles Cicero offers ups some wonderfully creative dishes on the menu that change often and are full of flavor. The decor is simple with dark color schemes that give off a very seacoast New England vibe. The bar and dinning areas of the restaurant are both small so I highly suggest reservations or be prepared to wait a while for a seat.
I enjoy starting off my my meal with a glass of wine from their large and well rounded wine list while I eagerly wait for a dozen or so of the raw oysters (the last time I visited, it was the little Pemaquids) served with Bloody Mary & Preserved Lemon Mignonette (love, love, love the Preserved Lemon Mignonette!).
I will share with you my top 3 dishes here although it's a tough decision to blog only 3 and they will surely change as the menu does! The Seared Duck Breast with a blueberry glaze served with wild rice pancake and grilled asparagus for $27. the duck is moist, the glaze enhances the rich fatty flavor of the duck and the wild rice pancake I think is a nice change to have for a starch. The Roasted Half Chicken served with polenta and a mushroom ragoût for $19 is well worth it and delicious! I know, most will tell you when you dine out, don't be boring and get chicken, but this bird at Anneke Jans is worth being the "boring one". My favorite dish here hands down, so far is the sunflower seed encrusted Sea Scallops with a sunchoke puree, edamame cipollini and a light lemon cream for $27. The last time I dined here, I agreed to spilt my scallop dish with one of my dinning companions who had the sirloin strip and although the sirloin was very good, I was sad for having to agreed with the meal trade. ha ha ha.
Whether you find yourself around Kittery for the shopping or just by chance your cruising around the coastline, I definitely think that you should venture into Anneke Jans and see for yourself what the happy, full gathering of the locals is all about.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Fat Belly's- 2 Bow St., Portsmouth NH

Fat Belly's has made this one very easy for me to add to my reviews. Don't waste your time or money here unless you are just having a few beers. Move right on down the road to the plethora of other, better restaurants that Portsmouth has to offer.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Tavern at River's Edge- Exeter, NH

Located below street level at 163 Water St. in downtown Exeter, The Tavern at River's Edge has a great menu to offer you in a casual dining setting. I have been a regular diner for a number of years and often opt to sit in the bar area where you can order off their lighter fare menu or their full dinner menu. I also like that a glass of their house Cabernet (Sycamore Lane) is only $5 a glass. I have yet to have a disappointing meal here and have almost always enjoyed the service. I'm a big fan of their Tavern Wings which are deep fried, then baked and you can have them finished either with spicy hot barbecue or sesame soy sauce ($9). I also like the blackened haddock sandwich- a decent sized pan seared creole filet of haddock topped with optional red pepper mayonnaise and french fries ($8). It's served on a big soft bulky roll and can really hit the spot. Their hamburger is average, but I have yet to find one that isn't on the Seacoast. Off of their full dinner menu, they really have a nice variety of meal options to choose from. When I in the mood for a little more than the lighter fare options, there are two dishes here that I usually go back and forth on. The Chicken Frangelico is a large serving of nut encrusted breast of chicken pan seared topped with a Frangelico cream sauce and finished with long grain wild rice and roasted vegetables ($18). I really like the Frangelico cream sauce (but who wouldn't?) and I find for the price, the portion is well worth it. My other favorite here is the Vegetable Lasagna. You can order a smaller portion of this delish dish for $12 or you can get the full diner portion for $16. I like to find restaurants that offer you the small meal options since I enjoy an appetizer before dinner I rarely can enjoy a large dinner out. The lasagna has roasted eggplant, hot house tomatoes, button mushrooms, onions and spinach layered with mozzarella and ricotta cheese with a smoked tomato cream. Here again (like the Chicken Frangelico), the sauce really makes the dish special and different.It has a very rich flavor that really takes the lasagna to a higher level than one that you would have just with regular tomato sauce. I also must mention that on the weekends they serve up one heck of a piece of prime rib! The chef here does change a few items every couple of months which is always nice, but he knows well enough to keep a few of the popular "staples" on the menu. The bar area is small, but the restaurant dining room is much larger. I really like the location of this place too, it's like by walking downstairs, below street level, you're a part of some secret or something. I don't know that might sound silly, but I think it's an Exeter town secret worth sharing.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Ron Jillian's- Hampton, N.H.

Ron Jillian's is a small, well known, casual Italian restaurant located along Route 1 in Hampton, N.H.. There is limited seating as well as limited parking so if you are heading in on a weekend evening, be prepared to wait. Half the restaurant is a small bar area that fills quickly with the locals. The food here is flavorful and the service for the most part is friendly and helpful. There is nothing fancy about the decor and when it's busy it can get really loud, which to me is always a good sign of people dining out and enjoying themselves.
****Update 11.9.09- I don't know what has been going on at RJs the past 6 months or so, but I have seen a decline in the quality of food served as well as the odds on getting good service. A new chef perhaps? I am curious to see if this downward slide continues or if they get their act together. I recently had the Lobster Mac n Cheese and it just wasn't as good as it was. Very disappointing.******

We started our meal with an order of the Bianco Sauteed Mussels ($9.95). They are a heaping mound of fresh PEI Mussels sauteed in garlic, white wine and herbs. I really enjoy them, but I think they can pull back a bit on the garlic. I was paranoid the rest of the evening with my killer garlic breath! For dinner we enjoyed their Eggplant Parmigiana ($13.95) and their Chicken Parmigiana ($14.95). The portions here are no joke! You will almost always have enough leftovers for another meal and you will see many people leaving the restaurant with their little bag or two of leftovers. Each entree here comes with your choice of soup or salad and these days, not having that a la carte is very much appreciated. Ron Jillian's offers a good selection of daily specials and menu options that expend beyond Italian and their brick oven pizzas. On this visit, they had a broiled haddock special that looked delicious. My absolute favorite meal here is served as a special on Sundays (although I did luck out once and they had it on a week night!) and it's their Lobster Macaroni and Cheese ($18.95). I love this dish. You get a huge portion of this rich, cheesy special that has big pieces of fresh lobster meat throughout. They don't skimp on the lobster meat at all! I say give Ron Jillian's a try and if you can manage, make it there on a Sunday for the Lobster Mac n Cheese.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Las Olas Taqueria

30 Portsmouth Ave.
Exeter, N.H.

I have become quite a fan of Las Olas Taqueria's "Clean Wave of Eating". Opened by Matt Burke in January 2008, this little joint has fresh Mexican food with a great taste and quite the local following. The restaurant is set up cafeteria style and your meal items are made to order right in front of you as you slide down the line. The service has been consistently fast, neat and friendly. The decor is vibrant and gives you a bit of a tropical feeling. It's a place that you might expect to come across in South Beach, FL, but is a welcomed surprise in Exeter, N.H.. All the ingredients according to Matt are prepared fresh daily and he tries to incorporate local meats into the menu where possible. It's opened daily for lunch and dinner and the prices are right for families to feel good about going and not breaking the bank. If you are in the Exeter area, it's definitely worth checking out. I find the portions to be more than enough and my favorite dish is their Vegetarian Burrito with black beans ($5.90). They also serve up salads, tacos, quesadillas, bowl meals and have specials posted on a regular basis. Sometimes I will treat myself to an order of their fried plantains which are often available as a side dish. I wish I could find these more readily available on the Seacoast, they are one of my favorite treats! The food is simple and fresh, making it very easy to be consistently a good restaurant to visit for lunch or dinner. Just look for the Palm Tree sign at the end of 108 and I hope that you enjoy this little Mexican oasis as much as my friends and I do.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Wentworth Hotel-Bubbles & Jazz Sunday Brunch

The Sunday Brunch at the Wentworth Marriott Hotel in Newcastle, N.H. is THE BEST available on the Seacoast. It will set you back about $40 per person, but it is sooooo worth it. They have a jazz duo that plays each afternoon while the brunch is served from 10am to 2pm. The price of the Brunch includes all you can drink Mimosa's and/or Champagne. The buffet spread includes breakfast pastries, rolls, a cold plate station which has salad options, shrimp and oysters on the half shell, soup, an omelet/egg station, several hot lunch entree selections as well as breakfast choices that include meats and sometimes stuffed french toast or banana fritters, a carving station (usually 2 choices), Chef Jon is usually manning the hot interactive cooking station and always has something really delicious for you to try (from Lobster Raviolis to Mahi-Mahi with a pineapple chutney)! I can't leave out the dessert table which always has tasty little treats to choose from (I'm a huge fan of the chocolate covered strawberries which seem to be a staple thank goodness!) and the portions are small almost bite size on most so you don't feel bad trying a couple different sweets!
I have been attending the Sunday Brunch at the Wentworth for a number of years and although I have checked out alternatives to compare it to, there just hasn't been anything that has beat this one. I have been to several that are menu Brunches, but I think those those lack the luster that a well put together buffet brunch offers. I have also attended the Wentworth for a number of holiday brunches over the years (instead of cooking at home with a small family) and they go all out with the decorations and the food selections. The staff is attentive and very friendly, the spacious ball room is always beautifully decorated and the jazz music sets the tone for a leisure afternoon well spent in the company of friends and or family. Since this best brunch on the N.H. Seacoast is at a hotel, I like that you can feel relaxed enough to either dress up a little or go casual and comfortable. If you feel you need to take a nice walk after your brunch, feel free to walk the grounds of the hotel. There is a nice walkway that goes around the front side of the property as well as the docks that you can stroll in season while checking out the yachts that are in.
I have never been disappointed in the service or the wonderful selection of food that tempts me at the Wentworth Brunch and if you plan on making a reservation to check it out yourself, make sure you say hello to Chef Jon for me!

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

ZAMPA- Epping, NH
The interesting thing about Zampa I think is you don't really expect it. Not where it is, or what it looks like from the outside. When I first dined at Zampa a few years back, it was like I discovered something that only a few people in the know knew about. The menu does change (although it keeps a few staple dishes) and is created by chef and owner Julie Di Tursi and the Sous Chef, Alex Thomas. They try to use mostly local products and organically fed and sustainably raised meats, fish and dairy. I have dined here for several years and I have only been disappointed once in my experiences and it just so happened to be this latest visit to Zampa that was the disappointment. It happens, you can't win them all right?
We sat at one of the high tables next to the bar for dinner. I ordered a glass of Vina Los Robles Pinot Nior ( I know, ME ordered RED wine, unheard of!). The bar at Zampa is cute and seats only 6. Most that take a seat at it are waiting for a table. The restaurant is small and cozy. It is decorated simply with red walls, green trim and the tables are sparse and have tiled tabletops.
Instead of serving a bread basket, here at Zampa they serve a stash of bread sticks with a chipolte aioli. It's a nice change of pace I think. The food here is all cooked to order so before you go, know that you shouldn't be in a rush. I started off with The Roasted Beet Salad ($7.95) which is baby greens, roasted beets, grilled onion, blue cheese, toasted hazelnuts and has a sweet ginger vinaigrette. the salad is BIG so worth the almost $8 i think. The toasted hazelnuts was a nice change too from candied pecans which most restaurants serve. My dining partner ordered the Lavender Honey Spare Ribs ($8.95). These baby back pork ribs with a rosemary-lavender honey glaze are really tasty. Another good appetizer is their Arancina ($7.95). Tonight I ventured off of the menu and went with a Special dish, the Salmon Wellington ($19.95). It was a large serving of Atlantic Salmon with dill and mushrooms wrapped in a puff pastry served with mashed potatoes and a creamed cabbage. It was...Eh. My expectation was high and not met. It was a little too fishy tasting and I thought the salmon could have been wrapped with some more flavor than what it had. I was a little bummed. It seriously was the first time I have been to Zampa and was disappointed. My date had their homemade veggie burger ($8.95) and although it is small (so don't go thinking a regular burger, think more of a slightly large slider), I order it from time to time because I really like the flavor. Its a homemade patty of roasted mushrooms, seasonal veggies and is served with a scallion aioli. Other current menu selections that I can say I have had and enjoyed are their Eggplant Parmesan ($16.95), homemade Fettuccine & meatballs (15.95) and teh Half Roasted Chicken ($18.95).
Our server Sarah was a little off this time, but maybe it was because she assumed a slow night and it became quite busy, quite fast.
Since Zampa is a small restaurant, I highly recommend you call for reservations Thurs, Fri and Sat nights. You should be fine walking in earlier in the week. Although, this last visit was "ho-hum" I won't give up on Zampa and I invite you to try it for yourself and see what you think.