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Looking for Merrimack-area dinner suggestions

Tante Jan 21, 2012 02:28 PM

I'll be going out to dinner next weekend for my birthday, and I'm looking for recommendations near Continental Blvd/Cinemagic in Merrimack. I've been to Buckley's and wasn't that impressed; last time we went to El Tapatio, it seems they'd changed chefs and the food just wasn't as good as it had been previously. Mikada and Giorgio's are ok, but would really like another suggestion that's not too far from the movie theatre. I'm not terribly familiar with that area and the only other place I can think of is The Common Man. I'd rather not go into downtown Nashua since we'll be coming from the west and I don't want to have to backtrack. Any ideas?

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  1. r
    rizzo0904 RE: Tante Jan 21, 2012 02:47 PM

    Not a fan of Common Man.

    Homestead is where Silo's used to be...I've never been so maybe someone else here can give a review.

    Go to Swan for some dessert...I really love their hot cocoa.

    1. l
      Lady Godiva RE: Tante Jan 21, 2012 05:09 PM

      You've really listed all the restaurants in the immediate area. I prefer the Common Man to the Homestead, but neither is amazing. I just haven't had much luck at the Homestead, but others seem to enjoy it, especially the upstairs bar when they have a band.

      If you want to trek to 101A, I really enjoy Crush Pizza. Some think it's pricey, but they really use quality ingredients, so I think it's worth it. It's a bit closer to ext. 8 off the Everett rather than 11 for the Cinemagic, but you could get to the theater in 15-20 minutes depending on the traffic lights if you go up 101A.


      1. d
        Dave B RE: Tante Jan 22, 2012 09:59 AM

        You might consider giving Buckley's another try. Perhaps on your single visit the stars just weren't aligned that day. I've had several very good meals at Buckley's, and their beef stroganoff is a now a favorite I discovered by accident (stealing a few bites from someone else's plate). I'd definitely place them above Common Man and Homestead.

        Buckley's is certainly conveniently located for you too. Go for it.

        1. p
          PutneySwope RE: Tante Jan 22, 2012 04:11 PM

          Why not try Florence's on DW Hwy for good red sauce Italian?

          7 Replies
          1. re: PutneySwope
            rizzo0904 RE: PutneySwope Jan 22, 2012 05:29 PM

            Florence's is just meh IMO. Went there a few weeks ago. Bread is like the crap you get at a Chinese restaurant. Salad is subpar. The lemoncello dessert was awesome and my inlaws loved the sole dishes they got. The bolognese sauce is great. Did not like my chicken dish at all...way too greasy.

            1. re: rizzo0904
              SuperGrover RE: rizzo0904 Jan 22, 2012 08:05 PM

              Wow. I've never been to a Chinese restaurant that had bread.

              1. re: SuperGrover
                rizzo0904 RE: SuperGrover Jan 23, 2012 12:21 AM

                All of the ones I went to growing up gave us bread...just kinda generic Italian loaf bread. Always thought that was normal.

                1. re: rizzo0904
                  jackattack RE: rizzo0904 Jan 23, 2012 01:35 PM

                  Nope, not normal at all. You must have grown up in some Bermuda Triangle of Chinese wackiness. Did they serve it with butter, or did you dip it in soy sauce, or what?

                  Xing Wang Chinese on Milford Road isn't too far from Cinemagic. How about the Black Forest Cafe in Amherst?

                  1. re: jackattack
                    rizzo0904 RE: jackattack Jan 23, 2012 01:51 PM

                    we always just put butter on it. i grew up in mass and this was a very common thing...strange.

                    1. re: rizzo0904
                      solargarlic RE: rizzo0904 Jan 23, 2012 02:58 PM

                      Lol, while I do find bread at Chinese restaurants bizarre, I do know of it from friends who grew up in Mass. (especially south of Boston)

                      1. re: solargarlic
                        southie_chick RE: solargarlic Jan 24, 2012 07:11 PM

                        I always get bread - or rolls - when I get Chinese food in Boston. Plus, if you're in Southie, you can get french fries & gravy (they use the egg foo young gravy), which is another "local" dish (never have seen it anywhere else). It's especially popular for an "after the bars close" meal. ; )

          2. s
            solargarlic RE: Tante Jan 23, 2012 07:04 AM

            Pizzico has a Merrimack location, not sure exactly where. Now I haven't been to the Nashua one in years, so I'm not necessarily endorsing it, just throwing out an idea! :)

            5 Replies
            1. re: solargarlic
              hummingbird RE: solargarlic Jan 23, 2012 08:09 PM

              solar, Pizzaco is just a couple minutes to the Cinemagic, it is in the plaza with Shaws, NH Liquor and Radio Shack.. Anytime we go to the movies there, we head over after to get pizza at Pizzaco, especially if it is before 3:00pm to get the lunch special. Happy hour isn't bad either.


              1. re: solargarlic
                Tante RE: solargarlic Jan 24, 2012 05:03 PM

                Thank you all for the suggestions! I'm leaning toward Homestead or Pizzico just to try someplace new; not sure I'm up for trying Buckley's again yet. Maybe I'll make out better if my expectations aren't as high.
                And I'm another former Mass resident (north of town) who was always served bread with Chinese food. Not very good bread, but with enough of those foil packets of butter, you almost couldn't tell.

                1. re: Tante
                  SuperGrover RE: Tante Jan 24, 2012 06:28 PM

                  Maybe you might like the tavern at Buckley's? They have the best burgers and sandwiches but you can order off the regular menu too.

                  1. re: SuperGrover
                    Tante RE: SuperGrover Jan 25, 2012 03:40 PM

                    Thank you, good to know! I love a good burger...

                    1. re: Tante
                      qianning RE: Tante Feb 17, 2012 07:22 AM

                      we much prefer the tavern side to the dining rooms.

              2. c
                ctroutman RE: Tante Feb 14, 2012 09:12 AM

                Cant believe someone recommended Florences....eeek

                1 Reply
                1. re: ctroutman
                  qianning RE: ctroutman Feb 17, 2012 07:23 AM

                  yep, especially if you stick to the red sauce part of the menu. the "fancier" stuff, meh, but the basic italian-american is very good, and reasonable too.

                2. m
                  messhall6869 RE: Tante Feb 15, 2012 08:51 AM

                  Go a few extra miles North to Manchester, NH. An Italian restaurant on Dow St-called Fratello's-
                  offers some great food. Whether you are in the mood for beef, pork, fish, or great Italian food, you can't beat the quality of the foods or the service. In fact, I'll share the name of my favorite server. She is known as Amanda A and is by far the best food server we have had in any restaurant. Give it a try.

                  10 Replies
                  1. re: messhall6869
                    whs RE: messhall6869 Feb 15, 2012 04:27 PM

                    Fratello's is part of the Homestead chain--they serve New Hampshire Italian food--a specific genre of bland, denatured Italian. Why does decent Italian (or Chinese) stop at the border???

                    1. re: whs
                      rizzo0904 RE: whs Feb 15, 2012 04:52 PM

                      Have you tried Lucia's tavola in Brookline since chef mark took over? so good!

                      1. re: rizzo0904
                        risibisi RE: rizzo0904 Jul 3, 2012 09:31 AM

                        Lucia's is a real find. Good food, great service. Small, unpretentious.
                        Went to celebrate a friend's birthday recently, and have returned several times since.
                        YUM! Worth a detour!

                      2. re: whs
                        messhall6869 RE: whs Feb 16, 2012 04:18 PM

                        Hey whs: Have you eaten at Fratello's ? From reading your comments, it would seem that you haven't enjoyed any Italian food North of the MA border. Perhaps then you might only consider Italian when in MA. From the many diners I see at Fratello's very time I have been there, it would seem that many people don't mind "a specific genre of bland, denatured Italian". Count me a fan of Fratello's!!

                        1. re: messhall6869
                          solargarlic RE: messhall6869 Feb 16, 2012 04:55 PM

                          Just agree to disagree :). Seriously you're both right...NH suffers from a very poor perception of Italian food, yet most of the people here love it. Of course, it's what they're used to! Personally, I avoid recommending Italian food to those visiting NH, especially if they come from a place with a decent selection of Italian restaurants (i.e., Providence). I have heard good things about Fratello's, but I know that it's just not for me.

                          1. re: solargarlic
                            whs RE: solargarlic Feb 16, 2012 05:35 PM

                            Just read about a new place called Villagio that opened in the old KFC space on Hooksett Rd. Opened earlier this month--some buzz on Yelp, but that's never very helpful. Mentioned in this week's Hippo.

                          2. re: messhall6869
                            Dave B RE: messhall6869 Feb 16, 2012 07:56 PM

                            I've dined at Fratello's a couple of times. Not really bad or anything, but choosing between Fratello's and Olive Garden, I guess I'd consider it something of a toss-up. At least it is a locally-owned restaurant.

                            1. re: Dave B
                              whs RE: Dave B Feb 16, 2012 08:02 PM

                              I prefer the slightly madcap atmosphere of Florence's to the corporate feel of Fratello's any day. Fratello's strives to feel like a chain. My favorite memory of Flo's is her mother, wearing a housecoat, seating guests. Someone asked her who was winning the football game on the TV at the bar. Her reply; "Do I look like a football fan?" as she threw the menus on the table.

                              1. re: whs
                                ctroutman RE: whs Feb 21, 2012 08:25 AM

                                I was mainly referring to the food..well, outside of Florences being a dump/dive in a strip mall. Being local, and heading out around the holidays, Buckleys was packed, so went to Florences and had some of the worst food I had ever been served in a restaurant. It felt like a bad joke..should've left. Head over to yelp and read my review of it. Horrible. Been to Fratello's one time..and agree, strives to the chain feel with the chain fell menu. Italian food is based on the premise of using local/seasonal ingredients. They do neither. It's Sysco truck specialties slapped together, and a shame really.

                                1. re: ctroutman
                                  whs RE: ctroutman Feb 22, 2012 04:32 PM

                                  Had dinner at Villaggio in Manchester last night--check out my new post.

                      3. t
                        Tante RE: Tante Feb 18, 2012 06:57 PM

                        We ended up staying in that night (and had lobster at home, which was thoroughly enjoyed), so I have no review to offer, but really do appreciate all of the suggestions! Looking forward to trying some new places soon.

                        1. m
                          mainegardens RE: Tante Feb 20, 2012 12:13 PM

                          If you are looking for a "Maine" experience, check out Street and Co. in the old port of Portland, Me. Rustic chic atmosphere, old brick and wood. Menu changed daily to reflect food made with the freshes sea catches. Sample oysters from all along the coast and see how each region has it's own flavor. And the real kicker....very reasonably priced. http://www.streetandcompany.net/

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: mainegardens
                            Dave B RE: mainegardens Feb 22, 2012 12:17 PM

                            Thanks, mainegardens. Next time I'm looking for a dining spot in Merrimack, New Hampshire, I'll be sure to include some Portland, ME options. Probably some from Florida and Texas too ---- just to improve my odds of success.

                            1. re: mainegardens
                              bunnyr RE: mainegardens Jun 29, 2012 07:57 PM

                              Whoops, wrong thread!

                            2. bunnyr RE: Tante Jun 29, 2012 07:49 PM

                              I came in late for this thread. But I was curious what people thought of the Merrimack restaurant scene particularly with the new outlet mall attracting new visitors.
                              Those of us who were used to how it was just 10 years ago are a little discouraged at how it's changed. With good places such as Silo's, Hannah Jack and others now gone, and the downhill slide of the once cool Florence's, the selection has surprisingly dwindled.
                              The Common Man now occupies the beautiful building that once was the Hannah Jack restaurant. It is your classic fillerup chain restaurant, nothing too adventurous, but nothing special I thought. Buckley's is a very good steak house - though good steak in New England is still very pricey. The Lobster Boat was OK... haven't been there lately... is it still OK? (It's not as good as the better coastal Maine seafood places, but it's OK). I like Pizzico in Nashua and it's the same people in Merrimack - nothing pretentious, nothing fabulous, but now better than Florence's. The original Homestead in Londonderry was kind of nice - 18 years ago when I last visited. I'm sort of surprised that it chose the old Silo's site; didn't seem like a match to me, but who knows.
                              Buckley's is the best restaurant here I think, pricey as it is, but the owners have a really good reputation in Nashua with their Michael Timothy's/Surf restaurants. However another good restaurant would be nice for the Outlet Mall crowd now coming in.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: bunnyr
                                whs RE: bunnyr Jun 30, 2012 03:55 PM

                                Going waaaay back, remember Levi Lowell's? Where Buckley got his start.

                                1. re: bunnyr
                                  qianning RE: bunnyr Jul 1, 2012 03:45 PM

                                  somehow i don't think the outlet crowd is going to do much for the dining scene. alas.

                                  1. re: qianning
                                    whs RE: qianning Jul 1, 2012 04:39 PM

                                    It's a mall. They have the ubiquitous pretzel place and some crappy chains. Merrimack is foodie purgatory, not quite hell. Go to Nashua or Manchester.

                                2. r
                                  Rich423272 RE: Tante Jul 2, 2012 04:01 PM

                                  I have been to most of the restaurants in Merrimack and the best one is Buckley's, You really should consider giving them another chance. Maybe try the bar at a time that is not a celebration.

                                  As far as your Birthday dinner how about Burton's Grill in Nashua:


                                  You might consider moving in a different direction towards Manchester. The Bedford Village Inn: http://www.bedfordvillageinn.com/dinn... or the Hanover Street Chop House are good choices.


                                  Good luck with your search,


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