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Globe North Dining Out

A keen taste of the Mediterranean

By Dining Out
April 17, 2011

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There is a distinct lack of Greek restaurants in southern New Hampshire, which is why the opening of Amphora, a new fine-dining establishment in Derry, is such a thrill.

This is an upscale, sunny restaurant, with Mediterranean earth-tone walls and simple, stylish décor.

Amphora is a great marriage of traditional Greek food and modern Mediterranean cuisine. You’ll find familiar-sounding dishes on the menu and some you might not know, but they all have a little twist that make for a special meal.

You can start with either cold or hot appetizers. On the hot side are kreatopita ($3), seasoned ground beef and feta cheese layered in pastry; calamari tempura ($9), and saganaki ($3), Kasseri cheese mixed with ouzo-lemon sauce. All are spectacular.

For a best sampling of cold appetizers, we recommend ordering the meze sampler with grilled pita wedges ($7), which includes tzatziki (cucumber yogurt dip), melitzanosalta (an eggplant/red pepper dip), and kopanisti (feta cheese whipped with olive oil and yogurt).

You also can’t lose with a hortative (farmer’s) salad ($8) that includes cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, green peppers, solonika peppers, and olives, which could easily become a meal in itself with the addition of chicken ($2.50), shrimp ($4.75), or marinated steak tips ($4.50). All salads are made with a tangy house dressing.

What a way to wake up your tongue for the meal ahead. The dips were amazingly fresh with lively spices, and we couldn’t get enough of the seasoned grilled flatbread.

We didn’t know what to choose for dinner entrees. All dinners come with the house (Greek) salad.

On one visit, we tried the Thracian chicken ($13), a tender, charcoal-grilled breast marinated in Amphora’s special spices blend and served over rice. It was amazingly tasty, light, and fresh.

Another in our party loved her psari-sto-filo ($15), tender white fish nested in buttery phyllo with a white wine and mushroom sauce.

Those who were fans of more traditional Greek fare liked their pastitsio ($12), mousaka ($13), and souvlaki, two skewers of Greek-style shish kebab of marinated pork ($13), steak tips ($15), or lamb ($16) over rice pilaf.

On another visit, we had lunch at Amphora. Specials are served until 3 p.m., but pita sandwiches, salads, and entrees are available all day.

Our little non-meat-eater dived into his vegetable pita sandwich ($6) made with stuffed grape leaves, kalamata olives, feta cheese, tomatoes, onion, and lettuce with a yogurt dressing rolled in a nice, fresh flatbread.

With all the sandwiches, you can add a side order of feta fries ($3) or eggplant frites ($1). It’s hard to come up with anything new when it comes to sandwich accompaniments, but Amphora is breaking ground here. The feta fries are french fries sprinkled with crumbled feta cheese and are very good. But the fried eggplant strips are out of this world and worth a trip to Derry just to try them.

Eggplants are sliced thinly lengthwise, then lightly battered in a spicy coating, then fried. These are the sweetest vegetables you’ll ever eat and it will make you want to give up sweet potato fries for life.

Amphora has dessert covered, too. All are $4 and include ouza cake served warm and drizzled with honey; galaktoboureko ($4): vanilla custard in phyllo pastry; and the traditional baklava and rizogalo: Greek rice pudding.

TOM LONG

Amphora

55 Crystal Ave, Derry, N.H.

603-537-0111

www.amphoranh.com

Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 9 p.m.

Major credit cards accepted

Accessible to the handicapped

Ratings

  • 4 Stars Extraordinary
  • 3 Stars Excellent
  • 2 Stars Good
  • 1 Star Fair
  • No Stars Poor