Italian eatery, sports bar to open in Hanover

After five local eateries shuttered their doors amid the pandemic, two new ones will crop up in their old locations this spring.

by Manasi Singh | 2/26/21 2:10am

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The town of Hanover has worked with College officials to prepare for today's election.

by Naina Bhalla / The Dartmouth Senior Staff

After a challenging year for local restaurants and businesses, two new restaurants — an Italian eatery and a sports bar — are opening in downtown Hanover this May.

Over the past year, five food establishments — Morano Gelato, The Skinny Pancake, Swirl and Pearl and Noodle Station, Salt Hill Pub and Market Table — have closed, leaving multiple spaces empty in downtown Hanover. Now, in the space formerly occupied by Market Table, Murphy’s on the Green owner Nigel Leeming will be opening Impasto, an Italian restaurant. In the former Salt Hill Pub location, Molly’s Restaurant and Jesse’s Steakhouse owner Anthony Barnett will open Dunk’s Sports Grill.

Both owners explained that plans for the new establishments have been in the works since last year but have slowed due to the pandemic.

After an incredibly popular community response to outdoor dining, Hanover town manager Julia Griffin said that it will likely start again May 1, around the time the two new restaurants plan to open.

Leeming’s Italian eatery Impasto, meaning “dough” in Italian, will feature a blend of Italian and Mediterranean dishes with a focus on flatbreads and other bread-based dishes.

“There will be a lot of really fresh ingredients,” Leeming said. “It's going to be a lot of classic dishes with culinary twists and some Mediterranean influences.”

Leeming emphasized that the eatery will concentrate on enhancing the experience of eating and sharing with friends and family. The restaurant will feature an open kitchen to allow for those visiting to have an immersive and “intoxicating” dining experience.

Barnett described Dunk’s Sports Grill as a response to what he identified as another missing aspect in Hanover’s culinary scene.

“We'll have big screen TVs; we’re working with Dartmouth on some images so that the artwork will reflect Dartmouth athletes and Dartmouth sports,” Barnett said.

Dunk’s — named after Barnett’s son Duncan — will feature a “classic,” yet “elevated” sports bar menu. This will include wings, hand-cut fries, griddle burgers, shrimp buckets, lobster rolls and many other popular American dishes. While he hopes people will enjoy the food, one main focus of the restaurant will be its drinks menu.

“We really want to be like the Dartmouth bar,” Barnett said. “We want to be like the place where everyone goes before a game, the place where everyone goes after a game.”

Students are optimistic about the new openings. Chait Mehra ’23 expressed his excitement for a place to gather with friends to watch sports games. He shared that especially amid the pandemic, gathering with classmates to watch sports has been difficult. 

“I’m really excited about this because I’ve been looking for a community of people to enjoy games with for the longest time,” Mehra said. 

Barnett plans to add large screen TVs throughout the restaurant and extend patio seating, similar to Salt Hill Pub. Barnett said he is also considering hosting trivia nights similar to Salt Hill Pub’s trivia nights once the pandemic subsides.

Leeming and Barnett estimate both restaurants will open the first week of May, allowing students to enjoy the new culinary options for at least one month before the end of the term.

“We've been down negatively with COVID, and people have been suppressed,” Leeming said. “I think coming out in May at the start of the summer is going to be a breath of fresh air.”

Leeming said that Impasto will be heavily relying on the local delivery platform, UVER, or Upper Valley Eateries Retail, to continue business and ensure safety protocols are met. 

Hanover town safety guidelines are not expected to change significantly in the near future, Griffin said. 

“Our restaurants have really operated under the worst of conditions,” Griffin said. “So it's nothing but better for them going forward in terms of what they will have to do to remain open.”

She noted that vaccine availability and administration, as well as general national COVID-19 trends, will be two critical factors in deciding how to proceed this summer with dine-in options and outdoor seating.

Barnett and Leeming shared that while they had some concerns about starting a business during a pandemic, they are optimistic about the chance of creating a successful restaurant.

Barnett sees the business openings as a chance for community members to reconnect after a distanced year and hopefully regain a sense of normalcy, especially over food, drinks and sports.

Griffin echoed this sentiment, specifically citing the small town environment and tight-knit community of Hanover as a driving factor behind the two restaurants being able to open. She shared her hopes that the restaurants will become another place for the community to gather safely.

“You almost feel like you're eating with family when you take out or you support [these restaurants],” Griffin said. “And so even if you're only here as a Dartmouth student for four years, it's still an important social gathering place for our small town.”

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