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Spotlight on Amesbury, Massachusetts

Featured Restaurants by Jessica Sacco / January, 2017

Settled by the mouth of the Merrimack River—across from Newburyport and upstream from Salisbury, Amesbury is full of rich history. As you walk along the cobblestone pathways through the city’s center, eateries occupy converted mill buildings where chefs use fresh, local ingredients to create delicious dishes. Entrepreneurs know this tight-knit North Shore community is the up-and-coming place to be.

Crave
32 Elm Street, 978-834-6075

Head over to the renovated 1850s train station for two unique dining experiences under one roof. The newly opened gastropub features an expansive whiskey selection (over 100 bottles from around the world), reserve wine list, and upscale bar bites. Grab a drink and try the Beef Tenderloin Tartare or the Icelandic Cod Cake Po’ Boy. Down the hall is the restaurant and full menu. “Our bread and butter is our dining room,” says owner Sean Toomey. “It’s really what brings people in from all over.” Make sure to grab the Crispy Tomatoes and Fresh Mozzarella appetizer—a different take on the standard caprese salad, with deep fried tomatoes, a basil cream sauce, and balsamic reduction. And if it’s fresh New England seafood you’re in the mood for, Crave has got you covered. The Seared Sea Scallops, which are brought in from multiple sources, including Newburyport and Maine, are served over sweet creamed corn and bacon, Brussels sprouts, and shallots, with a side of potato chips.

The Noshery
11 Elm Street

When owners Jon P. Mooers and Virginia Fox first opened the Noshery in July 2015, they had no idea their breakfast and lunchtime coffee shop would turn into a creperie. “We bought a legit crepe station from Paris thinking there would be this cool addition, that we might offer crepes, and maybe somebody might choose to have one,” says Mooers. “It became the forefront of our business. All they want is crepes.” Today, people travel far and wide to sample the 30 or so varieties on the menu. In a span of six hours, the pair often prepare upwards of 150 crepes, both savory and sweet. Try the Vive La France, made with Brie, ham, sauteed apples, and a honey Dijon sauce, or the Lobster crepe, with a champagne-based sauce. They’ve got crepes for all occasions and moods, with influences from around the globe, such as the Spanish-inspired El Jeffe (the boss), with eggs, cheese, chorizo, salsa, black beans, and cilantro. There are plenty of other reasons to nosh, such as the fantastic homemade pastries (muffins, croissants, doughnuts, mini whoopie pies), along with soups and sandwiches.

Phat Cats Bistro
65A Market Street, 978-388-2777

You’ll get nothing but homemade meals at Phat Cats Bistro, helmed by chef-owners Christina Johnson and Paul Eastman. “We work hard on finding good quality and good value, so we can pass that along to the customer,” Eastman says. The filling in the Lobster Rangoons is made from scratch, and you’re not going to want to miss the Baked Blues—a baked mixture of blue cheese, smoked bacon, and caramelized shallots served with crostini. Don’t overlook the Cheese Plate—it presents generous portions of excellent cheeses and spiced almonds, with homemade crackers and fruit compote. If you’re searching for a hearty dish, locals love the Phat Cat Mac and Cheese—baked penne with your choice of chicken, local lobster, or sausage. Make sure to stay for dessert and ice cream—all created on site.

Flatbread Company
5 Market Square, 978-834-9800

The first of their 13 properties, Flatbread in Amesbury is a colorful pizzeria nestled between two mill buildings. Although it appears small from the outside, inside the restaurant opens up and expands to the centerpiece at the back—a large, wood-fired, soapstone-and-clay oven used to bake the all-natural pizzas. The pies are made from organically grown wheat and topped with local cheeses and organic meats. Take a look at the “where our food comes from” sign above the bar to get a breakdown of the ingredients’ origins. Any of the pizzas are sure to satisfy, but regulars go for Mopsy’s Kalua Pork Pie, with smoked pork shoulder, chipotle BBQ sauce, red onions, pineapple, goat cheese, mozzarella, Parmesan cheese, and herbs. Jimmy’s Free-Range Chicken or Jay’s Heart, layered with Flatbread’s homemade Cauldron Tomato Sauce, cheese, and herbs, are also big hits. End with Sarah’s Chocolate Chip Banana Bread—warmed in the pizza oven and served with ice cream, chocolate sauce, and whipped cream sweetened with maple syrup.

Ale House
33 Main Street, 978-388-1950

Ale House, an expansive, high-ceilinged brick building in the center of downtown, offers a little bit of everything on their upscale pub menu. Take a seat at the L-shaped bar and sample one of the 30 rotating craft brews on draft, or cozy up in a leather booth against one of the brick walls. For lunch or dinner, try the Steak Frites, a spiced flank steak with blue cheese and caramelized onions on top of French fries, or grab the Balsamic Braised Beef Short Rib with Parmesan Risotto. Back by popular demand are the Chicken and Chorizo Ravioli and the Pork Noodle Bowl,with seared pork belly, veggies, and soba noodles. There are also soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches, burgers, flatbreads, and cheesy dishes. Close the night with Funnel Cake Fries, complete with caramel and chocolate sauces, and ice cream if you’re feeling wild.

Ristorante Molise
1 Market Square, 978-388-4844

Co-owners and sisters Antonietta DiLemme and Elisa Zullo offer the flavors of Molise, Italy, their hometown province. Stop in for classic Italian meals made with the freshest ingredients around. There’s a selection of chicken, veal, and fish dishes, but you can’t go wrong with the Gnocchi Sorrentino—potato pasta baked with prosciutto, mushrooms, breaded eggplant, and mozzarella cheese, served with a tomato basil cream sauce. The Frutti di Mare or Fettuccine con Funghi, with mushrooms and sausage, are also great choices. Seafood lovers will be amazed with the Risotto San Marino, creamy rice with sauteed jumbo shrimp, scallops, lobster, roasted tomatoes, and Romano cheese.