Hoping to revive the culture of the neighborhood butcher shop, with its personalized service, attention to detail, and artful products, restaurant-industry veterans Justin Rosberg and Jason Parent took a gamble on their first New Hampshire butcher shop in 2003. Dubbed The Meat House, their store quickly earned a foodie following, spawning additional franchise locations across the country. Today, The Meat House?s Mission Viejo location stocks fine cheeses, prepared side dishes, other gourmet grocery items, and hundreds of wines alongside the usual selection of traditional and exotic meats. Butchers also explain how to prepare each hand-carved cut of meat, sharing recipes, best slicing practices, and cooking techniques for giving pork chops the flavor of justice.
900 Degrees is a name that comes from the heart, honoring the temperature within the restaurant's smoldering brick oven that awaits specialty Neapolitan pizzas at the center of the kitchen. A crispy circle of homemade dough serves as the foundation of each pie, crafted with flour harvested by the Caputo family at their farm in Naples. The 900 Degrees pizza sauce also borrows authentic Neapolitan flavors from San Marzano tomatoes, which are hand-milled and imported from their growing place at the base of Mount Vesuvius. With the dough and sauce in place, chefs create an edible pedestal for fresh ingredients from New Hampshire's local growers. Signature creations include the Tuscan Sun pizza with artichoke hearts and sun-dried tomatoes, as well as Pepe's pizza, which arrives laden with sliced tomatoes, red onions, mushrooms, and olives. 900 Degrees also offers a full selection of salads, sandwiches, and desserts to pair with its selection of melodies milked from the free-range instruments of local musicians.
At 36 deLux Restaurant, culinary moguls Chef Matt Provencher and Ita Isakov form a powerful duo bent on sourcing the freshest produce, seafood, and meats from local suppliers. Matt graduated from the New England Culinary Institute before honing his skills at eateries all over the country, and Ita heads up Carmel Produce, a distributor of just-plucked produce. Together, they mastermind a menu headlined by salmon and calamari from the raw bar, pecan-crusted pork tenderloin, and sole stuffed with lobster and spinach. Paired with house made breads and desserts, the sizzling dishes make for a hearty meal complemented by potent cocktails and martinis from a recently revamped drink menu.
In a gallery space, the eatery spotlights revolving masterpieces from local artists. Nearby, its private function room sets the stage for making small talk with imaginary friends among up to 35 seated guests or 60 standing party goers.
Ornate lanterns bask the dining room of India Palace Restaurant in a warm glow, illuminating the classical Indian portraits and dark wood pillars surrounding the tables. Among these authentic confines—India Palace's second location, after spending 22 years at the original locale—the friendly staff helps guests choose the right dishes from a vibrant menu of fine Indian cuisine. Manning a clay oven fired by charcoal, visible to diners, chefs bake fresh bread, ground-lamb seekh kebabs, salmon tikka, and marinated tandoori chicken. A selection of 18 vegetarian specialties sates the hunger of plant hunters, whereas a variety of curries gives all diners the ability to roar cartoon flames. Indulgent beverages, such as an Indian chai latte or a mango milk shake, can be paired with any dish to sweeten palates.
Cala's aims for a local flavor, to the extent that one of their regular patrons catches the lobsters that go into dishes such as their lobster rolls. Local flavor infuses their menus, as well, with New England clam chowder among the appetizers and haddock and scallops among the choices for entrees. Diners can build their own pizzas with as many toppings as they please, and many dishes can be made vegetarian-style or without gluten.
Owner of Nicholas Seafood and Grille Marcia O'Brien carries on a five-generation New England tradition of delivering a menu of fresh-fish delicacies to harborside diners. Starters include Pino's popcorn shrimp, freshly popped from conch-shell kernels and attended by a pool of spicy mayo, as well as steamed P.E.I. mussels simmering in a jacuzzi of white wine, garlic, and butter. Shrimp, scallops, and lobster nestle beneath a buttery blanket of house-made breadcrumbs in the seafood casserole, and Nick's mixed dinner combines sweet italian sausage, steak tips, and honey-bourbon-marinated turkey tips. Baked haddock and grilled Atlantic salmon round out the pescetarian plethora, and steak-lovers can tuck into a slab of prime rib rubbed with sweet and savory spices and paired with rosemary-shallot butter. The regularly rotating dessert menu spins a sweet roulette wheel of fresh pie and cake baked each day.