Beyond the stretch of Kittery shopping outlets, and around the corner from the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Anneke Jans, a quaint, dimly lit bistro, packs a full house. In fact, on a Saturday evening it is advisable not to be a minute late for your reservation, as you will surely lose your table, obliged to dine at the bar. Dining at the bar isn’t so bad, though, as the mood from patrons in the full dining area can be downright boisterous. But that’s what bistros are all about: culinary camaraderie.
We settled into the curvy, high-backed banquette overlooking the Piscataqua River, the Sarah Long Bridge, and busy Portsmouth Harbor. Rays of the setting sun bounced off tiny whitecaps and lit the bows of fishing boats heading home. As if on cue, one of Portsmouth’s iconic red and black Moran tugboats slowly chugged its way into port. Inside, the restaurant was hopping; guests clustered around the bar, tables were full, and conversation and drinks were flowing.
When Pigs Fly Wood-Fired Pizzeria in Kittery, Maine, is an astonishing place in both edifice and fare. The exterior has a subtle arts-and-crafts-inspired style, while the post-industrial interior features a cathedral ceiling supported by huge I-beams. The décor is composed largely of repurposed metal from previous mills and factories, with a bar made of concrete with gear and cog inlays. Ultra-sleek Douglas fir chairs line each table and the bar of the 170-seat restaurant.
At the end of last summer, Martingale Wharf expanded our waterview dining options in Portsmouth. The restaurant and building are brand new, but the address has a history. Previous incarnations included a brothel and a rooming house. But the current establishment is most definitely an eatery, centered around a 360° bar. It is all about great views. Creative cocktails are both whimsical (White Gummy Bear, a blend of raspberry vodka, peach schnapps, orange liqueur, and housemade sour mix) and sophisticated (Classic Old Fashioned).
Sometimes you can go home again – that’s what Shane Pine effectively did what he opened The Community Oven this past April. The eatery is located in the building where Pine got his start in the restaurant business nearly 25 years ago, in his hometown.
For the past five years, Rudi’s Portsmouth has offered tempting menus of American food for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. This past June, after months of renovations to the former Little Timber Bonsai Nature Store, co-owners Brook Gassner and Keith Prince opened an addition, Rudi’s Market Square.
Restaurant years are kind of like dog years: Given the expected lifespan of a restaurant, each 12-month period is probably the equivalent of several calendar years. Hats off, then, to Poco’s Bow Street Cantina, in Portsmouth, which is now celebrating its 30th year in business—an impressive achievement in the industry. John Golumb and Marlisa Geroulo, the married couple who own Poco’s, have been involved since the early years, and the winning formula has stayed pretty much the same: plentiful, tasty, Tex-Mex food with a New England accent, bolstered by margaritas aplenty and, in season, a lovely view from the riverside deck. We recently caught up with Marlisa and chatted about what’s changed in 30 years—and what hasn’t.