Our Gourmet: Herald Square - A bite of the Apple in Londonderry
September 12. 2012 2:54AM
The Table 17/20
Our Gourmet: There is nothing square about Harold's lineup, with scores of menu items from Manhattan Clam Chowder to Caprese to clams Arrabbiata to Bolognese to Parmesan attesting to its New York influence. There is olive oil available at the table, plus picante sauce and parmesan cheese. Specialty drinks feature “Radio City Rum Punch” and a “Big Apple Tini,” and patrons are off to a good start when your server brings delicious, fresh-baked, warm Italian bread with a hint of mozzarella, garlic and olive oil. Owners Kim and Ben (nickname: Harold) Cass set a nice table. 17/20
The Menu 17/20
OG: Menu offerings are vast and somewhat difficult, given the variety and choices of portions. There are small and large (quite large) portions on the dinner menu. My veal dish fed me dinner, then a small lunch the next day, and supper once more — that's value. Besides a nice selection of appetizers not found in any pizza shop, and a host of pizza and sandwich choices, dinner patrons can choose small or large portions of many items on the menu, which includes sirloin tips, veal (Picatta, Parmesan or Marsala), or chicken (saltimbocca, broccoli alfredo, grilled and penne vodka) and a bevy of seafood choices including fra diavolo, pesto with shrimp and artichoke, scampi, and more. Great menu. 9/10
The Dining Companion: I've never been to a pizza shop with calamari, antipasto, Caprese, Manhattan clam chowder, clams and mussels all on the menu, but maybe that's my non-New York upbringing. We enoyed a shared bowl of Manhattan Clam Chowder ($3.99) for a starter and, while it resembled minestone, was properly red and rich and satisfying. Other appetizer tempters suitable for couples or groups include the antipasto tray ($9.99) with artichokes, pepperoncini, olives, roasted peppers, fresh mozzarella, proscuitto, ham, salami and mushrooms); bruschetta ($6.50) and Prince Edward Island mussels sauteed in either garlic/wine/butter or fra diavolo sauce. 8/10
OG: I was swamped by my veal marsala on linguini with a Caesar salad ($16.99). After our bowl of chowder, with two pieces of the warm Italian bread for an appetizer, it was all I could do to make a dent in the large mound of steaming hot linguine pasta,which was swimming in Marsala sauce and holding up three large, tender veal filets, lightly breaded and sauteed. Fresh sauteed mushrooms accompanied the sauce, and were tasty all by themselves. The veal was tenderized perfectly, and the breading out the outside added a subtle plus. A most satisfying meal, with plenty of leftovers. 8/10
TDS: My pesto shrimp with penne and artichokes, also with a Caesar salad, was a rich, tasty bowl full of large shrimp, tomatoes, sliced artichokes and well-cooked penne pasta, smothered by a pesto cream sauce that was to die for. It was best to attack this dish with a large spoon to gather as much sauce as possible. And, best, there was enough sauce to fill spoonful after spoonful the next day when I finished my dinner as lunch. The salad was crisp and fresh, if only a bit too chilled from pre-preparation, and for $16.48 I felt my meal was well worth the price. 8/10
TDC: I couldn't leave without ordering a slice of Tiramisu, one of a baker's dozen of desserts ranging from canolis to chocolate peanut butter pie to New York cheesecake (of course) to strawberry shortcake and key lime pie (about $2 to $5.00). The delicately-layered Tiramisu combined all of the traditional layers into a spectacularly light but satisfyingly sweet dessert, mixing soaked ladyfinger cake under a creamy custard topping, with subtle but tasty evidence of whipped cream, mascarpone cheese, sugar and cocoa in a dish that is worth the trip even if you've already had dinner and just want dessert. Harold Square caters for large groups, too, and this is an exciting possibility for a home chef who just doesn't want to extend a family's kitchen prowess to attempting a dessert to write home about. 18/20
All the rest: 15/20
OG: Service at Harold's Square is split between the takeout/pizza/counter orders and waitresses (we did not see any male servers) handling the restaurant, and as the eatery became crowded on a recent night we noticed a slowdown in server availability. That was a bit baffling because there seemed to be plenty of servers, but some things took awhile.
Also, just as in parts of New York City, the restaurant is a bit loud. No carpets on the floor tend to increase the noise, and accompanying the “New York” atmosphere was the sound of WZID radio programming coming at you from all sides. With checked tablecloths and New York decorations, some might think they are actually IN a New York restaurant, but while we have nothing against our friends at WZID, it seems incongruous to blend a New York restaurant theme with the over-audible nature of New Hampshire disc jockeys.
That said, however, there are many attributes to recommend Harold Square, notably among them that kids eat free on Wednesdays, and that a special three-course meal that normally costs $11.99 to $12.99 is available for $10 before 5 p.m. on certain days. 15/20