A Week to Find Wines for the Holidays

Posted: November 9th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Drinks, Event, Gloucester, Salem | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

There are so many things to worry about when you’re planning your holiday dinners, including what wines to serve. Luckily, there are several wine tastings this week to help you with that task.

Tomorrow evening, Eric Olson and Salem Wine Imports once again host their fabulous Grand Tasting from 6:00 pm to 9:00 pm at the Old Town Hall in Salem. There will be approximately 80 wines to sample with light appetizers and live music. This is a terrific event. We attended last year and not only discovered some new favorites but learned a thing or two as well.

The best part is that tickets are $30, and all profits from event go to The Salem Athenaeum, Historic Salem, and Historic New England, so you can support local causes while picking out your holiday wines. Call Salem Wine Imports for ticket information at (978) 741-9463.

If you’re farther north, Duckworth Beach Gourmet will be holding a more intimate tasting tomorrow evening in Gloucester. Hosted by Red White Boston, they will be pouring sparklers including Moët & Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and Crémant de Bourgogne. The shop carries some excellent cheeses and will choose some to pair with the wine. The event is free and runs from 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm.

If you can’t make either of these, Henry’s Wine Cellar in Beverly will be holding their Grand Holiday Tasting on November 13 from 2:00 to 5:00. They’ll have both premium and value wines on hand to fit any budget, and the folks from Henry’s Market Catering will be there passing appetizers. They do a great job with prepared foods for the holidays, so you may find inspiration for both wine and food.

Also on Saturday from 4:00 to 7:00, Leary’s Fine Wine and Spirits in Newburyport is hosting their Grand Autumn Tasting, and they’ve got the entertainment angle covered. The folks from The River WXRV 92.5, will be there to host the shindig with giveaways and raffles. Leary’s will offer dozens of bottles to try and feature hors d’oeuvres by Seaglass Ocean Front Restaurant and a turkey carving table from Tendercrop Farms. They’ll also be giving away two $25 gift certificates, one to Capri Seaside Dining and one to Seaglass Restaurant.

Heck, even if you’re not entertaining this holiday season, these events are all worth checking out.

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Why the Bar at Tryst is Our New Favorite Place

Posted: October 12th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Bistro, Drinks, Tryst | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

I can hear you now, saying ‘New? Tryst has been around for years.’ That’s true, and it has maintained a great reputation with dining cognoscenti the entire time.

Until a few years ago, Chef Peter Capalbo and his wife Amy Trabucco offered the only game around for diners seeking a certain level of cuisine. But in the past couple of years, the restaurant scene on the North Shore exploded. We’ve been busy trying to keep tabs on all the newcomers and hadn’t had a chance to check in on Tryst. Until this weekend, that is.

Saturday night, we were in the mood for a bar-side meal and had heard good things about Sean, the bartender at Tryst. A small, warm space with a bistro feel, the room was more welcoming than we had anticipated.

Snagging the last two stools, we were greeted not by Sean, but Ingrid, who was tending bar that night. She was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and didn’t bat an eye when I asked for a sidecar (this sounds like a simple request, but I can’t even count the local bartenders who don’t produce a proper one). The drink arrived perfectly made and extremely tasty.

We started with a roasted beet salad ($9) and the Hudson Valley foie gras ($14). The salad, with arugula and goat cheese in a red wine vinaigrette was good, but pretty standard. The fois gras, however, was excellent. Served with bits of grilled bread and slices of roasted apple, it was rich and savory.

We decided to forgo wine for another cocktail, although the wine list is nicely appointed, and we were interested to see that when our neighbors ordered a bottle of red, the bartender used an aerator and decanted the bottle it into a glass carafe.

The bar carries a good variety of spirits, some nicely obscure, and features Gloucester distillery Ryan & Wood’s Knockabout gin and Folly Cove rum. We chose a specialty cocktail on offer that evening made with the Knockabout, basil simple syrup, and mint. It was lovely, one of those drinks that tastes light and well blended but packs a punch.

The best tipple of the evening, though, was Sean’s manhattan. The house-made infused bourbon involves letting dried cherries steep in Knob Creek for six weeks. The results make the classic cocktail complex and layered without being too sweet.

Ordinarily, we never order roast chicken when dining out, because it’s one of those meals we make at home for a fraction of the cost. But after seeing several plates of the rosemary roasted chicken with mashed potatoes, sautéed spinach, and herbed pan sauce appear in front of other bar diners ($23), we gave into curiosity and decided to share the entrée. Brilliant decision on our part. Beautifully crisped on the outside, moist and flavorful on the inside, and complimented by lush sauce, this is roast chicken you dream about. While pricey for a chicken dinner, we would absolutely splurge on it again.

Despite not being huge fans of aperitifs and digestives, we toyed with the idea, and Ingrid joined the conversation with a wealth of information and an offer of a comparison taste-test of Aperol, Fernet Branca, and Carpano Antica. Although we found the beverages interesting, we opted instead for a brownie tart ($8) to end the evening, which arrived fresh and warm with a dollop of whipped cream. Homemade tasting and not too dense, it was tasty but not as memorable as the rest of the meal.

Tryst may not be one of the hot newcomers to the North Shore, but it surely remains among the best of the local dining scene.

Tryst
282 Cabot Street, Beverly
(978) 921- 2266
trystbeverly.com

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Earn a Free Entrée While Discovering New Flavors

Posted: October 7th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: 15 Walnut, American, Beverly, Bistro, Cala's, Gloucester, Hamilton, Manchester | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

You may not have realized it, but several of the terrific restaurants we enjoy here on the North Shore are the result of the hard working folks at Serenitee Restaurant Group. The group (previously known as North Shore Restaurant Group) has just unveiled a fun promotion aimed at encouraging diners to discover restaurants they may not have tried and, of course, to get out to old favorites as well.

At any of the six eateries, all with unique atmospheres and cuisines, you can pick up a “Discovery Card” that gets stamped with the purchase of a meal. Whether from six different restaurants or the same one, after you accumulate six stamps, you are rewarded with a free entrée at any of the locations.

The restaurants included in the promotion are:

15 Walnut, Hamilton (read about our experience here)

Cala’s, Manchester (read about our experience here)

Hale St. Tavern, Sushi and Oyster Bar, Beverly Farms

Latitude 43, Gloucester

Backstage Bistro, at the North Shore Music Theater, Beverly

Alchemy Tapas & Bistro, Gloucester

You know us, we’ll use any excuse to get out and try different restaurants, and a free meal is a great one. The offer expires December 31, so there’s plenty of time to explore these North Shore eateries.

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The Boys From Essex Bring Their BBQ to Beverly

Posted: October 1st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: American, Beverly, Casual/Pub Food, Farm Bar & Grille, Farm Downtown | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

In April of ’09, three young entrepreneurs, Noah Goldstein, Bradley Atkinson, and Ryan Cox threw their lot in together and opened the Farm Bar and Grille in Essex. When we visited the following week, the place was packed.

This afternoon, we experienced a bit of déjà vu when we stopped by for the grand opening of the trio’s newest venture, The Farm Downtown, on Rantoul Street in Beverly. There was a line out the door, and the atmosphere was jovial with lunch seekers and well wishers.

Of course, that may have had something to do with the free pulled pork and chicken sandwiches the guys were handing out. We tried one of each, and they were superb; tender, smoky melt-in-your-mouth meat with just the right amount of savory sauce on a grilled bun. We’re talking seriously tasty.

Whereas the Essex restaurant was created as a destination, featuring a huge indoor space with live music and a patio with outdoor games, in the smaller Beverly location, the focus is more on the food, Goldstein (pictured) told us. All of the offerings are freshly made, including hand-packed burgers using Angus beef (never frozen) and hand-cut French fries and tortilla chips. The specialty of the house is of course the barbeque, which is slowly smoked in their famous custom smoker in Essex and prepared on site in Beverly.

The menu includes burgers, sandwiches, salads, and seafood at reasonable price points. Everything is packaged and ready for take-out, and you’re welcome to eat there, though there is limited seating.

Although small, the storefront is appealing and fun, with custom tables inlayed with the signature pig logo. It’s extra impressive when Goldstein lets on that this has all been put together in just one month. Clearly, it was a month of late nights and a dedicated crew.

We’re betting The Farm Downtown will quickly become a welcome addition to the thriving Beverly restaurant scene. Tasty food, competitive prices—and did we mention they’ll be open late? Until 2:00 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays, which is a rarity here on the North Shore. And really, how can you not appreciate a place whose tagline is “We’ll Pull Your Pork”?

The Farm Downtown
350 Rantoul St. Beverly
(978)922.0011
www.farmdowntown.com

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Ambivalent About Anmol

Posted: September 21st, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Anmol, Beverly, Indian | Tags: , , | 2 Comments »

We experienced a decidedly mixed bag on a recent visit to Anmol. We were pleased with the coconut naan ($3.75 and a special that day), and the mango chicken ($7.95). We also liked that we could order any dish with mild, medium, or hot spice levels. And the small bowl of cinnamon-laced rice pudding at the end of the meal was a nice touch (gratis).

But the décor is stale, there were too few shrimp in the shrimp curry for the $7.95 price tag, and while the $9.95 chicken masala dosa was huge, it was dry and somewhat flavorless.

With so few Indian restaurants on the North Shore, we hesitate to disparage this one, especially since it’s not bad, just average. Still, Passage to India is only one town further south, and every meal we’ve had there was much more enjoyable. We’re also curious to know if perhaps some of Anmol’s dishes are better than others. If you’ve enjoyed a meal there, please let us know about it in the comments.

Anmol
258 Rantoul St, Beverly
(978) 232-9009
www.anmolindia.com

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Autumn Events: Food and Brews to Cure the End of Summer Blues

Posted: September 8th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Amesbury, Beverly, Essex, Event, Gloucester, Ipswich, Peabody, Rockport, Salem | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Labor Day weekend has come and gone, the kids are back to school, and everyone else is back to the grind. If the end of summer is getting you down, we’re here with good news. This fall is so full of terrific events, you’ll be too busy making merry to notice the shorter days and cooler temps.

If you’re interested in dining diversity, you’ll want to head over to Peabody Square on Sunday: the 27th Annual International Festival begins at 11:30 a.m. This popular event offers a variety of live entertainment and kids’ activities, but the real draw is the food, with more than 60 booths serving up traditional fare from Greece, Brazil, China, Poland, Italy, the Caribbean, and many others.

And the feast doesn’t stop when the festival is over. Peabody Restaurant Week starts September 12th and runs until the 15th.  Participating restaurants will offer a three-course prix fixe meal at the bargain price of $15 per person (tax and gratuity not included). So far, the list of participants includes Firebull, Paddy Kelly’s, Sugar Cane, Tokyo Steakhouse, Trackside, Wardhurst, and Willowtree. As with any restaurant week, it’s wise to make reservations.

September 16 brings the Taste of Cape Ann to Cruiseport in Gloucester. This is a great opportunity to try offerings from some of the area’s best restaurants and caterers and to sample beer, wine, and more. All proceeds benefit YMCA youth programs in Gloucester and Rockport. Tickets are $35 per person and available at the Gloucester Y or at the door.

On the 18th, head out to the Spencer-Pierce-Little Farm in Newbury for the annual Ipswich Ale Fall Fest. There will be food from Ipswich Clambake and Tennessee’s BBQ alongside Ipswich and Stone Cat Ales. Entertainment includes live music and vintage baseball games. Admission is free; food and beer are extra.

The folks at Henry’s Market are getting a jump on things by celebrating Oktoberfest in September, and they’re looking to throw quite a shindig on the 25th. They’ll have tents set up for a huge beer tasting, including samples from both local and national brewers. They promise plenty of grilled sausages and other taste treats, and the highlight of the event will be the judging of the Home Brew Competition.

Also on the the 25th is the 4th Annual Brew Fest  at the Amesbury Sports Park from 12:00 to 8:00 p.m. which promises “Beers Bands and BBQ” and tickets are $10.00 per person. The event kicks off North Shore Beer Week, which we’ll be talking more about in an upcoming post, so stay tuned.

And if you’re looking for something to do with younger kids that day, you might want to check out the Ipswich Chowder Fest, which takes place from 12:00 to 3:00 on the Ipswich River Walk and features family-friendly activities as well as chowder tastings from area restaurants.

Did you know that Salem’s Lobster Shanty is being featured on an episode of Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins & Dives? The segment airs September 27th at 10:00 p.m., and to celebrate, the folks at Cinema Salem are hosting a free viewing party starting at 9:00 p.m. The action will be starting at the Shanty at 7:oo pm and Mayflower Brewing will be on hand with samples of their IPA, Porter and new seasonal Autumn Wheat. They’ll also have it available on tap if you want to purchase a pint.

On the 28th, Green Land Café will be hosting a beer dinner featuring some unusual beers. They will have Tilburg’s Brown Ale, Hitachino Red Rice, Schlenkerla Marzen, Tripel Karmeliet, Saison Dupont, and Left Hand Nitro Milk Stout paired with dishes like kobe beef, pumpkin lobster bisque with chanterelles, roasted local quail, New England cheeses, and more. Tickets are $65 per person. Call (978) 744-7766 for information and reservations.

The Lyceum will be presenting an Introduction to Wine Varietals at 6:00 p.m. on the 30th, and they promise a fun tasting and discussion of six wines along with appetizers for $30 per person, excluding tax and gratuity. If interested, they ask that you RSVP to (978) 745-7665 to reserve a spot.

Speaking of local dinners, don’t forget 62 Restaurant and Winebar is running its Passports promotion throughout September, October, and November. Not only is it an opportunity to sample terrific food at a great price and widen your wine horizons, it’s also a chance to win a free trip to Europe.

Caffe Graziani is hosting an International Wine Dinner on October 14 at 6:00. They’ll be serving five courses, each with a different wine, including a spiedino of scallops and shrimp in curry ginger sauce with Rioja Blanca Cortijo from Spain, gorgonzola and walnut gnocchi in cherry tomato cream sauce with Gamekeeper’s Reserve Cabernet Graham Beck from South Africa, and beef braciolettine in sauce of fresh roman tomatoes, black olives, and capers with Salice Salentino Rivera from Italy. Tickets are $75 per person, which includes tax and gratuity. Reservations and prepayment are required. For more information, e-mail paulag@caffegraziani.com or call Giovanni or Paula at (978) 741-4282.

October 16 brings the Salem Harvest Fest at the Knights of Columbus at 94 Washington Square. The party features live music, food, more than 50 wines to sample, and tastes of brews from Magic Hat, Cape Ann Brewing, Harpoon, Cody Brewing, Mayflower Brewing, Dogfish Head, Berkshire Brewing, Wachusett, Narragansett, Ipswich, and Stone Cat. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door and are available at Salemharvestfest.com or Pamplemousse, 185 Essex St. (The Harvest Fest website hasn’t been updated as of this post.)

October 17 marks the start of Cape Ann Restaurant Week, which runs through the 22nd. Area restaurants will offer a three-course prix fixe dinner for $25 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Many local favorites including Gloucester’s Lobsta Land and Rockport’s Emerson Inn By The Sea will be participating. The Cape Ann website will be updated as the list is confirmed, and we’ll keep you posted as the week nears.

The 28th Annual Essex ClamFest, a North Shore favorite, takes place on October 23. It starts at 11:00 a.m. Memorial Park in Essex and features lots of fried clams, food and fun, but the main event is the Clam Chowder Tasting. Ten local restaurants will serve up their favorite chowder recipe starting at 12:00, and the contest judges will include Jeff Jones, Senator Bruce Tarr, Ann-Margaret Ferrante and
Legal Seafoods CEO Roger Berkowitz among others. The public will have the opportunity to sample and vote on their favorite chowder.

And if that isn’t enough to fill your fall, don’t forget that many of the local orchards and farms feature hayrides, cider donuts, and live music on weekends to accompany apple picking and pumpkin purchasing. So stop moping over summer; get out there and enjoy the tastes of autumn on the North Shore.

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Great Coffee, Good Vibes at Atomic Café

Posted: July 29th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Atomic Cafe, Beverly, Cafe | Tags: , , , , | 3 Comments »

Some places just have a good vibe, and Atomic Café is one of them. We stopped into their Beverly location for lunch recently and found the food very good, the coffee terrific, and the counter service eager to please. The place is small but manageable, and there’s something on the menu to please many palates, including a great selection of vegetarian options.

The goat cheese and pesto panini was the best of the three sandwiches we tried ($5). Crunchy grilled bread, well-flavored pesto, ripe tomato, and a generous serving of goat cheese made it a stand-out. We also liked the curried chicken salad ($6.25), with a hefty amount of chicken chunks in spiced-just-right mayo. The hummus special was fine, with a good amount of tomato and a fresh wheat wrap ($5). The thick-cut muenster cheese overpowered the hummus, but that’s a quibble more than a criticism. All sandwiches are served with a dill pickle and ruffle-cut chips, available on a selection of breads, and, if you’re eating in, served on ceramic rather than paper.

As you’d expect from a place that roasts their own coffee (available in store and online for $10 a pound and up), the iced coffee with milk was delicious ($1.90). We also tried the lemon Italian soda ($2.85) but found it too sugary.

Tempted by the bakery case, we tried a blondie and a frosted cupcake ($2-$3) and deemed both worth the calories. The cake was fairly moist, and the frosting was neither cloying nor overly sweet. The blondie was terrific—good sized, pleasingly dense, and filled with chunks of dark chocolate.

Atomic Café has a sister location in Marblehead with the same great coffee, friendly service, and pleasant vibe. The lunch menu is somewhat more limited, however.

Atomic Cafe
265 Cabot Street, Beverly
(978) 922-0042

14 School St, Marblehead
(781) 631-6464
www.atomicafe.com

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A Collection of Confections at Cassis

Posted: June 18th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Bakery, Beverly, Cassis Bakery, Sweets and Treats | Tags: , , , , , | No Comments »

June is a busy multi-birthday month for us, so when we needed a couple of birthday cakes we thought of Cassis Bakery in Beverly. Since its inception 10 years ago, Cassis has won many accolades and become well known on the North Shore for its pastries and wedding cakes.

We stopped in last week to peruse the refrigerated cases and order our confections. The bakery offers a wide range of cakes and tortes to choose from, including a new gluten-free menu. Our first request was a Sacher torte, but we were told that due to time and complexity, the baker no longer makes them for small orders, and even when ordering a large one, it must be done further in advance. So we decided to go with a fruit flan and a standard chocolate mousse birthday cake.

The beautiful display in the pastry case was so alluring that after we placed the order, we couldn’t leave without taking a few treats along. The porcupines ($2.85) were so damned cute that you almost don’t want to eat them—but we did. A butter cookie tart shell filled with chocolate cream, almonds, and a coat of dark chocolate, they tasted as wonderful as they looked. The cinnamon twist ($2.20) was also quite good; like an elongated cinnamon bun with plenty of icing, it was lovely with coffee.

When we picked up the cakes on Sunday morning, everyone was wowed by how gorgeous they were. The fruit flan ($37.50 for 9″) was spectacular. Completely unlike supermarket tarts, the fruit was sliced thinly to make an intricate pattern and included fresh peaches, kiwi, strawberries, and raspberries. The tart shell was buttery, the flan itself rich and creamy.

Although the chocolate cake ($30 for 8″ plus $3 for the purple frosted decorations) was beautiful, flavor-wise it was unsuccessful. The sponge cake was a dry and not chocolate-y enough, though the layers of mousse in the middle helped it, and the buttercream frosting was heavy and bland.

With the chefs’ obvious care and attention to detail, one can see how Cassis has gained its reputation, and it’s definitely worth frequenting for pastries and specialty items. And you didn’t hear it from us, but fruit flan leftovers are especially good for breakfast…

Cassis Bakery
263 Cabot St., Beverly
(978) 922-2053
www.cassisbakery.com

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Summer Bounty, Coming Up!

Posted: June 3rd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Gloucester, Ipswich, Lynn, Marblehead, Marblehead Farmer's Market, Marketplace, Newburyport, Newburyport Farmer's Market, Peabody, Revere, Rowley, Salem, Salem Farmer's Market | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments »

Sure, this gorgeous spring has been wonderful for walking and biking, enjoying the flowers, and getting a head start on our tans. But let’s face it: the best thing about the recent weather is the bounty we’ll soon find at the various North Shore farmers markets. To that end, we’ve got a list of the markets, their opening dates, their locations, and their hours, plus links to our FM posts from last year. Enjoy!

Revere Beach, Thursdays 12:00-6:00
Revere Beach by the William G. Reinstein Bandstand
Opening day: July 23

Lynn, Thursdays 11:00-3:00
Union St and Exchange St
Opening day: July 2

Marblehead, Saturdays 9:00-12:00
28 Vine St, behind Veteran’s Middle School
Opening day: June 12
Summer At Last: Marblehead Farmer’s Market

Salem, Thursdays 4:00-7:00
32 Derby Square
Opening day: June 17
Greens Galore at Salem Farmer’s Market

Beverly, Mondays 3:30-6:45
Veteran’s Park, Rantoul St and Railroad Ave
Opening day: June 28

Peabody, Tuesdays 1:00-6:00
Central St and Railroad Ave
Opening day: July 1

Gloucester / Cape Ann, Thursdays 3:00-6:30
Gloucester Maritime Heritage Center
Opening day: June 24

Rowley, Sundays 8:00-1:00
Rowley Town Common, Rte 1A
Opening day: July 11

Saugus / Cliftondale, Tuesdays 10:00 – 3:00
Cliftondale Square off Rte. 1 at Jackson Street
Opening day: July 6

Ipswich, Saturdays 9:00-1:00
Ebsco Parking Lot on Estie’s Street
Opening day: July 10

Topsfield, Saturdays 7:00-12:00
207 Boston St, Topsfield Fairgrounds
Opening day: July 10

Newburyport, Sundays 9:00-1:00
The Tannery Marketplace, 50 Water Street
Opening day: May 2
Eating Our Way Through the Newburyport Farmers Market

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Dish Tidbits: Spring 2010 Restaurant Openings

Posted: May 14th, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: Beverly, Essex, Marblehead, News, Salem, Swampscott | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Whether it’s a sign of economic upswing or simply the continued evolution of the North Shore’s vibrant restaurant scene, it’s difficult to keep track of all the exciting openings going on in the area this spring.

A few weeks ago, Bolivian coffee importer Cafe Valverde Coffee Roasters replaced Fuel coffee shop at 196 Essex Street in Salem. This was apparently the starting flag, signaling a host of new openings.

This week saw the openings of Greenland Café and Coven Dessert Bar and Artisanal Market in Salem and the much-anticipated 5 Corners Kitchen in Marblehead.

Marblehead will see another new storefront soon, when Hooked Seafood & Grill opens in the old Super Sub space on Pleasant St. in June. Sticky Rice, the on-again off-again Thai restaurant on Hawkes St., has been sold to a new owner and is slated to re-open under the name Sticky Rice Bistro.

Salem has become a hotbed of restaurant activity recently and is looking forward to several openings in addition to the two this week. Since publishing its menu online, there has been a ton of buzz about Howling Wolf Taqueria, which will open at 76 Lafayette St. in early summer. The plentiful burritos and veggie options look to be winners.

Also on Lafayette Street a new restaurant serving pub fare, The Lafayette Grill, is scheduled to open in the old Casa Blanca space, which neighbors are hoping will be a step toward cleaning up the troubled area.

In the former Edgewater Café space on Washington St., the Adriatic Restaurant and Bar, which will feature a mix of Italian and European food, is finishing up renovations and hiring waitstaff and will open doors shortly. (added 5/17/10:  a great video of Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll interviewing the owners of both Coven and Adriatic can be found here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INGDTKQo4Ww )

Another seafood venue has taken over the empty Derby Fish & Lobster space at 215 Derby St. and will be opening under the name Seaport Grill. No word yet on how soon.

And if that’s not enough new food for Salem, the recently renovated jail space is reportedly in talks with a restaurant, but nothing official has been announced yet.

Vinnin Square is seeing its share of the action as well. On the Salem border, Rizzo’s Roast Beef and Pizza of Peabody will be opening a second location in the plaza next to Staples. And on the Swampscott side, it looks like City Bar and Grill, which acquired a liquor license during the winter, has finally started to fit up the former Friendly’s/Finagle spot. Any independent venture would be welcome in the square, which feels overrun with chain restaurants and fast food outlets.

Over in Beverly, North Shore Restaurant group has taken on the new eatery being developed at the revived North Shore Music Theater. Named BackStage Bistro, it promises “top notch American cuisine” with theatre props from favorite past performances as decor and a show-tune sound track.

We hear that Mark McDonough and Co. will also be making some big changes to Alchemy in Gloucester, giving it a more comfy, lounge-y feel and emphasizing small plates and platters to share.

Also in Gloucester, Giuseppe’s, a new restaurant and piano bar will be moving into the former Elliot’s space in the Blackburn building. Their website promises the place will be “very musical, very Italian and

On Cape Ann, rumor has it that the Market Restaurant in Annisquam will be re-opening May 29 under the management of two former Chez Panisse chefs, which certainly sounds worth investigating.

There have also been murmurs about a tapas and healthy-fare venue opening in Essex. In a town synonymous with fried seafood, we’re sure this will be a welcome addition.

Looks like we’re going to have an exciting summer trying out all the new tastes, and perhaps some we don’t know about yet. Give us a shout at email@northshoredish.com, or leave a comment if you know of any more our readers would be interested in.

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