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Scene in Manchester: Republic's farm-to-table approach lauded

Special to The New Hampshire Union Leader

March 04. 2012 7:55PM

We were happy to learn that the owners of one of our favorite downtown spots have been selected as semi-finalists in the “Outstanding Restaurateur” category for the 2012 James Beard Foundation Awards, one of the highest honors in the food and beverage field. Edward Aloise and Claudia Rippee, a husband-wife team, own and operate Republic and also operate Milltowne Grille in the Manchester-Boston Regional Airport.

They were selected from a record 57,000 online entries in 20 categories.

We love the farm-to-table approach the duo takes at Republic, and just last week had the opportunity to eat there during their “Mediterranean Passport: Greece” event featuring delicious Greek specials. We were even personally served our food (as were many of the patrons that night) by Aloise himself. Guess we don't have to be worried about the Beard Awards nomination going to the owners' heads.

The James Beard Foundation will announce five finalists in each category March 19, and winners will be announced May 7 at the foundation's annual gala award celebration at Lincoln Center in New York City. Best of luck to our hometown nominees.

A wintry haze

We thought we recognized the guy all bundled up for a winter storm in a recent commercial for the 2012 New Hampshire Motor Speedway racing season. We first met J.C. Haze as a local radio personality, but we've since learned his talents extend far beyond the broadcast booth. In addition to radio and television commercials, his voice can be heard on dozens of audio books for children.

The theme of the NHMS commercial — a race fan who is so excited for racing season that he imagines his own snow-covered car is a race car — didn't make much sense prior to last week's storm. A behind-the-scenes video shows the creative team from Griffin York & Krause having to create the winter landscape effect for the commercial. We're glad Mother Nature decided to make the messaging work for them and that they used local talent for this local commercial.

Very good at Villaggio

The new Italian restaurant Villaggio Ristorante is getting some nice reviews among our social networkers. Local reading teacher DeLorie Belanger said she and friends loved a recent meal at the establishment, which opened last month in the former home of KFC on the DW Highway. She suggests diners set aside plenty of time for the meal. The cannolis, she reported, are terrific.

Cinda Koeman Guagliumi said she recently had the “best date night ever” at Villaggio with her 9-year-old son, Benjamin. (We guess that's a clue to husband, Jordan, to step it up in the date department.) Ben, who is both an aspiring dancer and foodie, appreciated that the chef came out to talk to patrons just as he's seen chefs do on the Food Network, but he thought the cannolis would have been better filled with butter cream.

Guagliumi said their server went above and beyond to make dinner delightful.

We love a good mystery

We can't wait to find out the three Musical Mystery Guests who will be revealed at Manchester Community Music School's 7th annual Share the Music Gala. Attendees at the March 22 “This is Your Life”-themed event will get musical clues to help them guess who the mystery guests are. All we know is they are from the state's business community.

As we've said before, we attend a lot of fund-raising events, and it's always refreshing to see a different idea like this one, which raises money for the school's financial aid fund. You can find out how to get tickets by visiting

NH365.ORG Event of the Week

Don't be surprised if you see a lot of Hawaiian shirts and shark-fin hats downtown this weekend. The Radisson is host to the 17th annual New England Parrot Head Convention. Parrot Heads, a.k.a fans of Jimmy Buffett, are known for having a good time. But this convention, which rotates annually among the New England states, is a “Party With A Purpose,” raising money for several local charities including the Boys and Girls Clubs of New Hampshire, the New Hampshire Animal Rescue League, and the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life in Manchester. The weekend lineup looks like it involves a lot of music, raffles — and a poker run. And we're only guessing, but we imagine the Radisson's adult beverage blenders will be working overtime. Find out more at

Scene in Manchester is a weekly column of social tidbits from around the Queen City assembled by Teresa Robinson and Katie McQuaid. If you have an interesting item for Scene in Manchester, email it to

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