Friday, April 5, 2013
Portsmouth & The Seacoast Restaurant Week & Ristorante Massimo
The Portsmouth & The Seacoast Restaurant Week started yesterday and will continue through April 13. During this week, you will be able to obtain a three course Lunch for $16.95 or a three course Dinner for $29.95 at approximately 49 restaurants. In addition, some of those restaurants are offering even more for this low price, from free wine to extra courses.
For example, The Portsmouth Gas Light Co., B.G.'s Boathouse and Cafe Nostimo each offer a complimentary glass of wine or beer. The Great American Grill offers a free glass of House Wine. Cava offers a four course dinner while Moxy offers a five course dinner. Tio Juan's Margaritas Mexican Restaurant and Grill 28 are offering their three course meals all day for only $16.95. Check the various menus to see which other restaurants are offering special extras too. Over a dozen restaurants also offer gluten free and/or vegetarian menu options. These include The River House, Blue Moon Evolution, Brazo, Cava, Common Man, Green Monkey, Martingale Wharf, Moxy, Tulsi and more.
Agave Mexican Bistro. I arrived in Portsmouth a bit early as I enjoy walking around their downtown region, which is thriving with lots of unique shops, bakeries, ice cream spots, restaurants and more. It is a great place to spend a day and it is close enough to the Boston area that the ride is only an hour or so. With summer coming soon, it is a destination that should be on your radar, especially as its culinary scene keeps getting better all the time.
There was also a Bartender's Competition, a selection of several local mixologists who competed to create the best cocktail. The judges selected Neal Jacobs from Moxy as the winner, his cocktail containing a variety of local ingredients, including: Art in the Age Rhuby, Flag Hill "Josiah Bartlett" Apple Brandy (Lee, NH), Sweet Baby Vineyard Bartlett Pear Sweet Wine (Kingston, NH), Syrup of Locally Foraged Wintergreen, Appleton Farms Maple Syrup (Ipswich, MA), Lemon Juice, and Moxy-Made Bitters. I didn't get to taste the cocktail but it sounds intriguing and creative.
Martignetti Companies, for all of the attendees at the party, which involved a blind tasting of four wines, trying to guess the grape. The grapes ended up being Sauvignon Blanc, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petite Sirah. I was psyched to learn that I won the grand prize, a $200 gift certificate to McKinnon's Market & Butcher Shop. Blind tasting is far from easy, but it was lots of fun.
I spoke with a few local chefs and members of the Greater Portsmouth Chamber of Commerce and one of the more interesting conversations concerned how to keep their Restaurant Week vibrant and dynamic, to avoid problems like the backlash against Boston Restaurant Week. That is probably a conversation Boston Restaurant Week should have as well, to find ways to inject new life into an event which isn't working as well as it could. It is good to see Portsmouth is paying attention, seeking ways to ensure their Restaurant Week remains an interesting and compelling event. One thing I like about the Portsmouth Restaurant Week is that many of the menus seem far more interesting and diverse than what I often see in Boston Restaurant Week menus.
Ristorante Massimo, an Italian restaurant known for its authentic Italian cuisine and superior hospitality. I met Massimo Morgia, the owner, who was born in Pontecorvo, Italy, and he was a gracious host. In 1994, Massimo became the co-owner of Anthony Alberto's Ristorante Italiano and then in 2003, Massimo became the sole owner and changed the name to Ristorante Massimo. Since 2005, their Executive Chef has been Jethro Loichle.
Though Restaurant Week had not started yet, Massimo made the menu available to us and it includes a choice of 4 First Courses, 4 Entrees and 2 Desserts. You could start with a dish like the Fried Zucchini Blossoms or Pan Roasted Duck Breast and then move on to a dish like the Grilled Sirloin Steak or Porcini Crusted Day Boat Scallops.
I need to check out Ristorante Massimo another time, when it is not Restaurant Week, as I want to explore their menu in more depth. I saw several dishes on their regular menu which sounded quite appealing.
So why not give Portsmouth & The Seacoast Restaurant Week a try?