Our Gourmet: Good food, good value at Italian Farmhouse

September 05. 2017 9:46PM

Italian Farmhouse
337 Daniel Webster Highway, Plymouth; 536-4536; www.thecman.com/restaurants-and-menus/italian-farmhouse.aspx

Hours: Dinner: Monday-Friday, 5-9 p.m., weekends, 4:30-9:30 p.m.

Cuisine: Italian.

Pricing: Appetizers, $6.99-$9.99; soups/salads, $3.99-$9.99; pizza, $8.99-$12.99; entrees, $12.99-$24.99.

Scores for Italian Farmhouse
Atmosphere: 18/20
Menu: 17/20
Food: 17/20
Service: 18/20
Value: 17/20
TOTAL: 87/100

We don’t have any kids of college age at the moment (the FussBudget is years away), but if we did, and they went to Plymouth State University and we visited, we’d take them to the Italian Farmhouse for dinner.

Located on Route 3 a couple miles out of town, the Italian Farmhouse is just that: a converted farmhouse serving good Italian food. One of the Common Man collection of restaurants around the state, we expect this spot is popular with both students and parents, as it offers quality at affordable prices.

We entered through the front door of the house into the main room, the kitchen facing us and a cozy waiting area to the right, where a fireplace looms and a couple played chess on a set made from salt and pepper shakers. Further on to the right was the barn, which appeared to be a pub-like space. To the left were the dining rooms, located in the farmhouse parlor and a back room. There’s a deck out back for al fresco dining and beyond that, a greenhouse used for functions and construction for a new barn that will host weddings and larger affairs.

We started with a glass of Chianti for the Dining Companion (DC) and Cokes for Our Gourmet (OG) and the FussBudget (FB).

Pre-meal bread and butter was of the self-serve variety, with the station near the restaurant’s entrance, featuring plenty of plates and butter for the taking. Taking some bread was another matter this night. Nestled in a buffet well were whole loaves of warm, crusty bread, waiting to be enjoyed (and it was delicious). Perhaps just a quirk of the hour or something, the only utensils offered to fish it out were a lone serrated knife and some napkins. There was no real cutting board, either. OG scratched his head, looked around and finally decided to stab a loaf with the knife, wrap his hands in a couple of napkins and break the loaf in two, bringing half back to the table — a less than dainty endeavor that was more than a little awkward. There must be a better way.

The 7-year-old FussBudget is a spaghetti-and-meatball fanatic, so his choice of entrée was a no-brainer. He proudly ordered his meal himself (the adult version goes for $12.99). A look from our friendly waitress and a nod from us made clear it should be the child-size portion. Delivered was indeed a child-sized portion — of spaghetti. The meatball, not so much. Tipping the scales at about six ounces, this mammoth meatball was the size of OG’s adult fist. The FB’s eyes opened wide, and then got determined. When he was finished, most of that meatball had disappeared, though none of his spaghetti had. OG enjoyed what was left as a snack back home. The meatball was not overly dense, was perfectly cooked and tasted of hints of garlic and oregano.

The DC chose the Vegetable Primavera ($9.99). A large plate of gemelli was brought out, the twisty pasta cooked to a perfect al dente, glistening with a hint of olive oil and amply topped with sun-dried tomatoes, artichoke, olives, broccoli and mushrooms, with bits of garlic and fresh basil throughout. The dish was topped with panko breadcrumbs, which clung delicately to the pasta, thanks to the oil, and added a bit of heft. Generally a rather plain dish, the Italian Farmhouse’s Primavera rose a notch above, with the garlic and basil adding the necessary pungency, the olives adding a salty note and the breadcrumbs holding it all together. Good stuff.

OG was in the mood for pasta as well, and when that happens, if there’s sausage available, we want some. So, an order of Linguini with Italian Sausage ($13.99) fit the bill, with a cup of the day’s soup ($3.99) to start things off. The soup was a thick, creamy tomato Florentine, hearty and infused with a smoky flavor, and paired perfectly with the bread.

Later, a steaming plate of al dente linguini was brought to table, topped by two Italian sausages. Likely to quicken cooking time, the sausages were split lengthwise, into four slightly curved portions. Their skins had a nice snap. They were spicy with red pepper. Our only quibble with the dish was the sauce. Make no mistake, it was flavorful — with garlic and onion, oregano and basil at the fore — but there wasn’t enough of it. Rather than covering all of our pasta, just a small strip crossed the top of the plate, leaving plenty of pasta naked. We could forget about having any extra sauce to dab up with our bread but it was a solid dish nonetheless.

While we dined, we took notice of the other clientele, which included a group of young women who appeared to be college age, as well as several families that included young adults that appeared to be undergrads, and even some natty professor types, cementing our opinion that the Italian Farmhouse would be a perfect place to go after a Panther football game or during some other excuse to visit PSU.

We’ve got years to wait for the FB to reach that age, but we won’t wait that long to visit here again when we’re in the Plymouth area.

Our GourmetPlymouth

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