New Year’s Eve will look different in Portsmouth on Thursday with no traditional First Night festivities, but revelers will still be out toasting to a better year ahead.
“We’re going to have a fun time saying goodbye to 2020,” said Jane Cole, who picked up the phone on Tuesday morning at Library Restaurant, a steakhouse on State Street.
Cole said with capacity limited to fewer than 70 people due to COVID-19 restrictions, they have been turning down individuals calling for reservations for the past two weeks.
The challenge of finding a place to celebrate on New Year’s Eve in Portsmouth is heightened this year by the fact that some restaurants are going into hibernation for the winter — including Jumpin’ Jay’s Fish Café, Moxy, The Franklin and Poco’s Bow Street Cantina.
Still, Cole said there are still lots of good restaurants open and ready to welcome patrons in 2021.
Toscana Italian Chophouse & Wine Bar on Pleasant Street, which opened earlier this month, will be putting a twist on the traditional end of year celebrations at their location in Market Square.
Each hour, there will be a destination themed celebration as people from other countries ring in their new year. The party kicks off at 5 p.m. and starts with a Greece theme before moving to Italy, England and the Azores.
Specialty drinks include a Portuguese dark espresso martini made with vanilla vodka, Taylor 10-year Tawny Port, Café Borghetti and pressed espresso.
Beverage Director Jose Luis Betancur said he has noticed an uptick in martini sales recently.
“There’s definitely more martini drinkers and more specialty cocktail drinkers,” Betancur said.
Chris LaBella, assistant general manager, said they do have some room in the bar and high table area for people who cannot make reservations; the dining area is booked from about 3:30 p.m. on.
“We hope to keep celebrating the end of 2020 every day in 2021,” LaBella said.
Chef/owner Evan Mallett at Black Trumpet Restaurant and Bar on Ceres Street said the year has been tough, but they still plan to have their traditional champagne toast at midnight.
Unlike Library Restaurant and Toscana Chophouse, where the full menu is available throughout the evening on Thursday, there will be a fixed price menu with a sparkling beverage at $85 per person.
Main-course choices include wild boarchetta and seafood paella with Gulf of Maine scallops.
The theme at Black Trumpet this year is “Hindsight is 2020.”
“I’d like to once and for all, on New Year’s Eve, say goodbye to a year we all wish we could forget,” Mallett said.