North/ Middle VT/ NH-good eats & beers?
Had a nice lunch at Sarducci's just this last Friday after not having eaten there in, oh, gosh, it must have been a good eight to ten years since we ate there. My husband had one of their wood-fired oven pizzas (Siciliano), I ordered penne with scallops and shrimp, one of our friends also ordered that, and his partner ordered a Caprese pizza, and we shared a caprese salad for starters.
We asked for and got a table out on the deck overlooking the river, so we weren't in the main room, which gets noisy. The atmosphere was perfect for a mid-afternoon lunch. The sun was out, the river was rushing by, and we were all in great moods. :)
We were given fresh baked bread, sliced thick, and garlic olive oil after they asked if we wanted it. It was wonderful. I liked the bread a lot, though our friend from the UK says that it wasn't crusty enough and it was slightly sweet for her tastes. I'd agree it wasn't sufficiently crusty (often the breads here to tend towards softer crusts), but it was tender, and held the olive oil and garlic wonderfully. The olive oil was fruity and not over powered by too much garlic.
The tomatoes served with the salad were very obviously local, had great flavour, and were well balanced with mozzarella that came with it. All in all a delightful, light little salad that we all shared a nibble on.
The crusts on the pizzas were reported to be nicely crisp, and the toppings were well balanced and flavourful. My husband liked his well enough, though he was raised on Long Island, and so misses the pizza he used to get there, preferring that style to the wood-fired oven style that is prevalent in upscale places in VT. Our friend from the UK liked hers a great deal and loved the drizzle of balsamic vinegar over the top, saying that made it just perfect.
Our other friend and I both loved our penne with scallops and shrimp. It had a wonderful, creamy cheese sauce, the penne was perfectly al dente, not too mushy (and reheated beautifully the next day). I could have used a couple more pieces of shrimp and scallops but the ones that were there were cooked -perfectly-, and were very, very fresh with wonderful flavour. The server was attentive, neat, clean, well-groomed, and treated us very well. He was patient and didn't hurry his service, and answered questions knowledgeably. The food arrived in a good time (it was after the lunch rush, but the restaurant was still hopping).
This was, overall, a very good experience and I'm glad to have rediscovered Sarducci's. I highly recommend it for anyone looking for a reasonably priced lunch or dinner in the Montpelier area. If you're looking for a romantic meal, though, be sure to get on the deck, not in the main room. :)
In Warren, Vt. (south on Rt. 100 or 100-B from I-89), Lawson's Finest Liquids is producing remarkable craft beers. They're available on tap at the Pitcher Inn in Warren, American Flatbread in Waitsfield (weekends only), and further south at the Village Porch in Rochester.
Across the river from Hanover, N.H., is the Norwich Inn, Norwich, Vt., home of Jasper Murdoch's Alehouse. Always worth a trip
In Waitsfield, the Millbrook Inn does innovative meals with excellent wine pairings.
In Waterbury, the Alchemist does indeed have good brews. A superb restaurant is Hen of the Wood on Stowe St. Great wines.
It's been a few years - but the Vermont Pub & Brewery is a nice atmosphere for a good pub meal. Sweetwaters used to be good as well.
Montpelier has a few restaurants as well. The wings at Mcgillicuddy's are yum, the rest of the food is decent as well. Sarduccis (italian) and the N.England Culinary Institute are 2 more in Montpelier.
In West Lebanon NH, Lui Lui's is good for pasta and pizza. There aren't too many restaurants other than chains in West Lebanon. If you don't mind going a little off the beaten path, Hanover (where Dartmouth College is) has some decent restaurants.
There is also the Simon Pearce Restaurant in Quechee, VT if you're looking for something a little nicer.
Truth be told there isn't too much between Burlington & Montpelier, and then from Montpelier through 89 to Concord, NH.