A year ago I was feverishly pursuing opening my own authentic Italian-style deli. As I crunched numbers, dreamed about concepts, and visited locations, Somersworth always intrigued me. While I have hung up my restaurant-owner cap (for now), I think those who pursue any new restaurant are gutsy, especially those who choose the sleepy town of Somersworth.
When I heard about the current owners of Mombo Restaurant in Portsmouth opening Pub 319 in Somersworth I was excited. I believe that Somersworth could be the next Newmarket. Years ago, Newmarket was a drive-by filled with pizza places and a bartending school. Now, Newmarket has become a food hub with Johnny International, Oak House, and the Big Bean. I respect Thomas Perron, owner of Mombo for taking the plunge on the beautiful restaurant space in the old train station in Somersworth.
Pub 319 is down a short drive way and in the deep caverns of an old train station. The walls are built of large granite blocks and adorned with old train memorabilia. The space itself is enormous with a bar, many tables, and plenty of seating for large groups. There is even a wagon converted into a table.
We were warmly greeted, sat quickly, and our server came by the table promptly. For drinks I ordered “Strangers on a Train,” a gin cocktail made with tonic, sliced cucumbers, and lime, $9. Very refreshing but next time I will ask them to muddle the cucumbers instead of putting slices in the glass. Nick was impressed with their beer selection which ranged in price from $6-$7; a little expensive for the area. Some of the same beers on this list can also be found at Revolution Taproom in Rochester and cost $4-$6 each.
I was disappointed to see the two items from the online menu that I was interested in trying were not available. I was dying to try the “Back and Cheese,” A take on mac and cheese with bacon or pork belly (I’m assuming,) and I thought Nick would really go for the bone-in pork chop with beans and pork belly. Both of these items were omitted from the print menu, so we chose to start our meal off with Chorizo Poutine.
The poutine arrived to us in a small metal basin. The portion was small for the $11 price tag. The chorizo was spicy but not smokey, and the french fries could have gone 30 more seconds in the fry. The cheese curds were the perfect texture and the gravy offered a slightly sweet unctuous sauce that paired very nicely with the chorizo. Pub 319’s poutine is a warming take on poutine and I enjoyed every bite.
I observed other diners snacking on bites of Buffalo Chicken Meatballs these looked delicious and were beautifully plated. The spinach artichoke dip also seemed like a popular choice, although again, a small portion.
Fish n’ Chips
Nick ordered Fish and Chips, $13, I was astonished at the amount of food coming his way. A large metal plate emerged from the kitchen with hand-cut potato chips and four huge pieces of lightly breaded fish. The fish was perfectly cooked on the inside and moist; the breading was not heavily greasy and slightly sweet-almost a tempura-like texture. The tartar sauce was lemony and fresh; also light. The value was unbelievable.
Pub 319 takes orders on an iPad. This is a semi-new take on the ordering system and I have managed restaurants that use this practice, I think it is a smart move in terms of preventing error and offering prompt service. However, at the end of our meal our server cleared our plates, returned to our table with her iPad and asked if we would like dessert. When we declined, she handed Nick the iPad, told him the total and waited for payment. Ouch. We know this is not our servers fault, but rather the service model at the restaurant but… how awkward!
I believe that Pub 319 has great potential and with time will work out the kinks. If Pub 319 is aiming to create a small plates menu then they need to lower their prices. If they would like guests to feel comfortable lingering and having a few beers then their positions should increase and beer prices decrease. And as noted above, a paper check goes a long way. The food was fresh and hot from the kitchen, the lack of grease was very much appreciated, everything we ate was tasty; the value and service model were the only thing lacking. I encourage you to visit Pub 319 in a few months, I know I will for an updated review.
Pub 319 is located at 2 Main Street, Somersworth NH. Hours are: Tuesday-Sunday 3pm-Close. Closed on Mondays.
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