Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bonta- Hampton, N.H.

A beautiful Italian restaurant & bar located at 287 Exeter Road in Hampton, NH, right off Exit 13 on 101 serves up some outstanding regional Italian and Mediterranean dishes. The decor is simple, warm and elegant, with a country Italian feel. Well known for their fresh, flavorful food and their cozy, upscale bar, I have yet to be disappointed in my dining experiences at Bonta.
Off of their Appetizers menu, I have enjoyed their rich Tuscan White Bean soup ($8) and their Mussels Fra Diavolo ($11) which does have a bit of a kick. They offer quite a few dinner selections and also a daily specials menu. I like that with their main pasta dishes, you can have either a full order or opt for a smaller portion at a lower price. The smaller portions of pasta are perfect if you are in the mood for either an appetizer or saving room for one of their desserts or both!
For a main dish, I recommend the Tagliatelle alla Bolognese ($12/$23) that is made with fresh, homemade pasta which always makes a big difference in taste when dining out for an Italian meal. If you aren't in the mood for pasta, I recommend their Tuscan Chicken under a Brick ($25) served with a creamy Gorgonzola risotto, broccoli rabe and a house-made gravy. The chicken is juicy and tender, and consistently cooked perfectly. During my visits at Bonta, the waitstaff has been very friendly, attentive and willing to make menu suggestions if you are having a hard time deciding what to enjoy. It’s also worth mentioning that Bonta has an outstanding wine menu that has been the recipient of the Wine Spectators’ “Award of Excellence” for outstanding wine selections for the last eight years. The staff has been very knowledgeable and helpful with pairing recommendations. I love my vino and it's nice to indulge in one or two wines that I haven't explored. The Mahogany Bar at Bonta is well known with the locals. It's small and comfortable and I have enjoyed the service by bar manager Al who has been at Bonta since it opened. He has a great smile, is always friendly and on top of his game. The Bar menu is quite wonderful and has small plate options, sandwiches and also some great signature Artisan flat breads. From the bar menu, I am a big fan of their Margherita flat bread ($9) that has house made tomato sauce, fresh Mozzarella cheese and basil and also the Chicken Picatta dish ($11) with sauteed chicken, lemons, capers, white wine, stewed tomatoes served over Gemelli pasta.
You don't have to spend a lot of money to enjoy a really nice evening out at Bonta and if at all possible, try to save room for dessert. It's actually one of my favorite dessert menus on the Seacoast.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Restaurant Week Portsmouth: March 26th - April 3rd, 2010

It's that time of year again my fellow foodies! The Portsmouth, N.H. Chamber of Commerce proudly puts on this bi-annual culinary event and this time around it has over 30 restaurants participating in it from around the Seacoast! It's nice to see some new additions taking part this year.
Portsmouth Restaurant Week is a great opportunity to dine out at some of the restaurants you either haven't been able to try yet or have been wanting to, but may be out of your budget range. The restaurants will be featuring a 3 course prix fixe dinner menu for $29.95 per person and some of the restaurants also will be featuring a 3 course lunch prix fixe menu for $16.95 per person. The Portsmouth chamber website will have the menus posted as soon as they become available so that you can see which ones where sound the most delicious to you.
I love this event and I think it is especially welcomed in times like today where the economy is "not so hot". Reservations are HIGHLY recommended and there are also many area hotels and inns offering special rates and packages during this event.
I hope you are able to make it to one or two and that you enjoy your time spent here on the Seacoast. See you around town!