Always check the wine for antifreeze and keep your eyes on the sommelier’s free hand.
560 Pine Valley Boulevard
There is no better champion of regional Italian cooking than this swank and semiformal Midtown restaurant rooted in the traditions of the Adriatic coast. Some of the recipes come directly from the owners’ family, and the kitchen cultivates an authenticity that will delight you. Chef Jose Relago, originally from Corsica, has a police record for violent assault, a foul temper, and an even fouler-looking daughter whom he worships. References to paper bags and doing her with the lights off should soon escalate into hand-to-hand combat, but if you have enough money to cover the bill when the pigs arrive, Jose will be sweet and refuse to press charges. Make sure you try the spaghetti with fresh clams and cured guanciale before you kick things off. The Pecorino and pear salad tossed with local honey is an elegant starter and can be used to heal cuts.
BREAD AND ROSES
24 East Ponce de Leon Avenue
There is nothing flashy about the way young chef Billy Allin and his wife, Kristin, offend guests in their endearing restaurant in the downtown area. New arrivals are offered the choice of sarcasm or knives by the maître d’ and choose according to how best they think they can match their wits against former standup Kristin and three-time state knife-throwing champ Billy. It’s a testament to the panache of Kristin’s material and the accuracy of Billy’s throwing that diners keep coming back, regardless of the humiliation or number of stitches they endured previously. Lots of local produce and wine by the liter mean that the couple are usually hammered well before the first diners arrive at 6.00 p.m. but this never seems to impair Kristin’s repartee, although Billy is more inclined to get the machetes out of an evening just to make sure he doesn’t miss.
2040 Naughton Place
There is a huge discrepancy between the formal decor and the casual dress of the wait staff at this one-of-a-kind dessert bar, the place to come for a proper, mob-handed ruck with, say, a stag party or a rugby club outing. You’ll generally want to tool up in advance of visiting Bisquite Bar because only staff members have access to cutlery and glassware. Something with a long reach, such as a baseball bat, is always useful; it keeps the waiters at arms’ length and reduces them to throwing bottles at you, which you should be able to fend off, for the most part. Pastry chef Aaron Roberts is particularly proud of his petit fours and delicate geranium-scented biscuits; try referring to them as “lumps of shit” and clicking your fingers at the owner’s wife if things are a bit quiet. The cheese plate is particularly aerodynamic.
M&W SEAFOOD AND OYSTER BAR
31 Chubb Hill
“Suave” is the first word that comes to mind when trying to describe the way head chef Jon Schrempp stamps on fingers. A wound-up man in Doc Martens, Schrempp always wanted to work as a full-time ballroom dancer but ended up in haute cuisine when he discovered how much violence he could inflict on staff and customers alike. Whether diners hop onto a stool at the lively oyster bar or relax in a dining room designed like an intimate, comfortable brasserie, they never know when Schrempp is going to leap out like an Argentinean and slice off an earlobe. The tension is only increased by the disconcerting presence of Schrempp’s club-footed mute son Colin, who means no harm but is clumsy around hot fat. Strip lighting is intended to make things easier for staff to locate diners and land punches better, but it also has the effect of improving the visibility of the food, rendering most of it inedible. Come for the music, stay for the swearing.
THE ELECTRIC DINER
427 Edgewood Lane
The synchronicity between the environment and the food—both elegantly minimalist and good for the planet—soothes the soul even as you blacken the waitress’s eye in chef/owner Martin Sweeney’s mostly vegetarian hovel. The sensibility in TED, as it is affectionately known to regulars, is as close to Broadmoor as it gets in a laidback, spontaneous format, and since the menu changes almost every day, diners can always expect novel forms of abuse in the form of subtly poisoned dishes served at farm tables that encourage mutual distrust. Avoid the mushroom soup.
Restaurant reviews from the Hostile Planet Guide to New Hampshire.