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Jan 27, 2009 01:06 PM

non-chain dinner around Salem NH

I know from the research I've been doing that this is a bit of a challenge but there must be an independent, casual, mid range restaurant with decent food somewhere within a 10 mile radius of this place! Help me find it (dare I hope, them?) please!

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  1. If Italian is an option, Trattoria Amalfi on Rte. 28 north side is a good choice.
    For Middleastern food I would head to Shadi's Restaurant in Methuen, MA.

    1. Ralphie's is a nice family italian place, casual too - awesome meatballs like softball size. It's in Salem on Rt. 28 in a small stripmall. We've also done Phoenician on Rt. 28 for labenese food.

      3 Replies
      1. re: lexpatti

        I'd avoid the Phoenician at all costs. I ate there a few times a year ago or so and had the distinct impression that while it might once have been worthwhile, it's coasting on fumes at this point.

        Also, while it passes itself off as Middle Eastern, such dishes occupy a relatively small sliver of the menu (and mostly among the appetizers). The entrees are largely steaks and chops. We were served cold pita that was obviously straight from a bag in the refrigerator, and with butter packets, no less ... which speaks volumes about its ethnic authenticity.

        Thai Chili at 473 South Broadway in Salem has excellent Thai food, but the strip-mall ambiance leaves much to be desired. It would be a good choice for takeout, though.

        1. re: tunamelt

          i do like the Prime Rib at the Phoenician but agree that the place doesn't do much else very well. when they were located in Lawrence (then Bishops) they were Very Good.

          went to Thai Chili last week and aside from being the only people in the place we thought it was servicable at best. i think they were better when they were down 28 a bit, Chao Praya River.

        2. re: lexpatti

          I would second Ralphie's. The food is consistently good, although the pasta is sometimes overcooked at times. Otherwise good qualtiy.

        3. I don't mean to sound negative, but the unadorned truth is that Salem, sadly, is a bit of a black hole for dining.

          I'd suggest:
          1. The Colosseum ( Pastas are decent, the bar is an OK place to sit. Desserts are from Mike's (or is it Modern?) in the North End so they're tasty. Jazz on Tuesday and Wednesdays. It feels a bit bygone, but it's not too bad.

          2. The Blackwater Grill ( is a pretty room with a bit-of-everything menu and a very nice patio in the summer. Food is OK, not really much better than a chain but it feels less cookie-cutter.

          3. The new Boardroom is definitely the prettiest room in town and you can get an OK meal if you navigate the menu with some caution. Stay away from the "Italian" stuff (totally inauthentic and Olive Garden-y ick)... but grilled meats are very promising. ( The bar is a nice place to hang out.

          Finally, if you're willing to travel a bit further (20 mile radius):

          1. Cassis Bistro in Andover has city charm ( although it may be outside your idea of mid-range.

          2. And I think George's in Haverhill looks most promising, although we've yet to get there (

          Please do share if you find anything interesting!

          6 Replies
          1. re: Rabbit

            We were at Blackwater two days ago and I have to rescind my recommendation. This place is under new management and the food has taken a turn for the terrible. It's a great place for a cocktail (lovely bar), but the food doesn't even rise to chain-restaurant mediocrity. Full report and pictures here:

            1. re: Rabbit

              I agree Rabbit, very dissappointed with Blackwater - I forget what it was before, but I enjoyed it better. We just recently did George's in Haverhill and loved it. Loved the ambiance, excellent service and my salmon was fantastic with a panchetta hash, hubby had weinner schnitzel that was excellent. His duck carpaccio as an app was not good though - very small morsels and overwhelmed with too much fruity accents (cranberry coulis). My escargot was out of this world with a star anise butter sauce. You should give it a try.

              1. re: lexpatti

                Thanks for the review, lexpatti. We're excited about George's and now I'm even more eager to give it a go (my manicurist was also talking it up yesterday!!).

              2. re: Rabbit

                Sad but true, the blackwater has gone a long way downhill from when Loafers was there. I was unaware that they changed management recently, but I guess that's besides the point. I really think you hit the nail on the head with "need to try harder"

              3. re: Rabbit

                LOVE George's in Haverhill. Although we haven't been to the new location yet, the food was excellent the last time we went in the fall.

              4. THere are a couple of options around. I second the Trattoria Amalfi reccomendation. I prefer the bar area, with the semi private booths along the walls. They make a good drink and the food is as close to authentic Italian as you will find in the area.

                The second place I will recommend is Brookstone Grille in Derry, just up the road from Salem. Great looking place with a nice bar, and also a pretty dining room. Good selection of food offerings, from raw oysters to pizza, great appetizers and some interesting entrees. Worth a look.

                The other place I will suggest if you can make it to Haverhill is Keons. May be too far from Salem, but good nonetheless.

                3 Replies
                1. re: purchaser1

                  Thanks for these suggestions purchaser1... Brookstone looks like it might be a good new option for us!

                  1. re: purchaser1

                    I second the nomination for both Trattoria Amallfi (great Italian) and Brookstone Grille (at the golf course just over the Salem-Derry line on 111).

                    Trattoria has one of the best Italian menus in Salem (and, for some reason, Salem has quite a few Italian restaurants). I like the seafood selections, but sometimes get the rib-eye special. Romantic setting, and since their renovation, there's a nice sized bar as well.

                    Brookstone has shrimp cocktail that are simply HUGE, a good raw bar, nice soups, a nice bar menu, and some great entrees in another romantic setting.

                    Either one would be great for Valentine's day, but you should make sure you make reservations beforehand!

                    1. re: lar3ry

                      Side note on those shrimp: they are size 6/8 per pound and they poach them inhouse...

                  2. Josephs' Trattoria and Bakery is just over your 10 mile radius in Bradford/Haverhill Ma.

                    Just google for directions, the food is excellent!