Southern New Hampshire Life

Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor

Southern New Hampshire Life - Southern New Hampshire Blog by Steve Russo, Realtor

Buy Local! The Hollis/Brookline Area Business Meet and Greet

Trying to find a local business?   Brookline and Hollis companies would like to introduce themselves to you.  Establishments in these two towns are sponsoring a “Meet and Greet” this Saturday 4/28 from 10 to 2 at the Lawrence Barn on Depot Road in Hollis.  Need a local contractor?  landscaper? real estate agent?  Drop in to the historic barn and visit with these civic-minded entrepreneurs; over 25 companies will be represented. Participating businesses have donated to the Nick Jennings Scholarship Fund.  Admission is free.

Lawrence Barn

Lawrence Barn, Depot Rd., Hollis

Checking up on School Systems

Many people when looking for a new home want to make sure that they will be moving to a community with good schools for their children.  It’s difficult to check out a school system objectively; people often rely on hearsay.  There’s a free website that can really help people find a good school match –  The website sates that its purpose is “…to empower parents like you to make informed choices about choosing a school for your child.”  The site contains information on over 130,000 public and private schools in all 50 states.  Data includes: national test score results, enrollment information, student/teacher ratios, school and district rankings, etc.  Test score results are up to date – even 2012 results are listed, along with those for 2009-2011.  Other stats are similarly current. You can find schools by name, address, town/city, district, and location.  The website is very easy to use and contains a wealth of information.   House hunters will benefit from checking it out.

There are a few other sites that can give you additional facts about New Hampshire schools. Great Schools has articles about how to choose a good school, educational issues, etc.  It includes standardized test scores and, unique to this site,  reviews from parents and students.  Unfortunately it has lots of ads, and one has to go to several pages to get a full portrait of a school.  Public School Review lets you compare three schools in these areas: student, teacher, and town demographics; poverty stats; and expenditures.  It also includes recent newspaper articles that have mentioned the school and a link to the NH Dept of Education’s standardized test score website.  The NH State Dept. of Education’s  website offers basic statistical information on every school in the state; administration contact names and numbers; standardized test scores; and basic demographics about the town’s population.  The MA Dept. of Education has similar stats for Massachusetts school systems on their site.

Thinking of buying a new home?  Let me help you!

Contact me via my website:

About Me:

Connecting People with Homes in Southern New Hampshire
                          – Steve Russo

Country Cuisine 6: Peterborough

Peterborough is a lively town at the crossroads of routes 202 and 101.  Many visitors are attracted to its art exhibits, theaters, and unique retailers.  There are many restaurants in the town, but there are two that stand out for their distinctive menus and milieus.

Aesop’s Table is located inside the Toadstool Bookstore; TripAdvisor reviewers ranked this small cafe the #1 eatery in this restaurant-rich town. It serves continental and bagel breakfasts; soups, salads, sandwiches, quiches, and wraps for lunch; and a wide selection of espresso and non-espresso coffees, teas, juices, etc. Desserts are made on the premises. Their inventive offerings include asparagus and potato soup, zucchini cheddar quiche, brie and pear salad, and a red pepper and goat cheese sandwich. Open Monday through Saturday.  Address: 12 Depot Square, Peterborough; phone: 603-924-1612; website.

Twelve Pine is a very upscale cafeteria featuring fresh-roasted coffees, gourmet salads, paninis, entrees such as pork loin with leeks and grilled salmon, and a wide variety of made-in-house pastries and gelati.  They have a large selection of deli meats and cheeses if you prefer to design your own sandwich or wrap. Several vegetarian dishes are regularly available.  The adjoining food and gift shop features artisan-made chocolates, spice mixtures, teas, condiments, wine, and comestibles. All items are available to eat-in or carry-out. Open seven days a week. Address: 11 School Street, Depot Square, Peterborough; phone: 603-924-6140; website.

Country Cuisine 5: Milford

Milford is the commercial center for towns west of Nashua and east of Peterborough; it has many stores, strip malls, and restaurants along its main roads.  Two of its more distinctive restaurants are described here:

The Mile Away offers four course dinners at very reasonable prices.  Housed in a remodeled barn with a German/Swiss theme, this “country elegant” restaurant features an extensive menu of Continental and American items. Starters include Swedish meatballs and vichyssoise; entrees include Wiener schnitzel, tournedos, and chicken cordon bleu.  Some examples from their dessert offerings are peach melba, chocolate balls, and strudel.  Dining by the huge wood-burning fireplace is memorable, as is their Oktoberfest celebration every autumn.  This year Oktoberfest will be October 14th from 12:30 to 5:30PM; King Ludwig’s Bavarian Band will be featured.  Weddings and wedding receptions are held in their picture perfect garden.  Reservations recommended. Address: 52 Federal Hill Road, Milford; phone: 603-673-3904; website:

Rustic Leaf Bistro stresses locally grown organic produce; the innovative offerings here are sure to stimulate anyone’s palate.  Appetizers include goat-cheese stuffed dates and sweet potato crab cakes; salads include pear, beet, olive, and butternut varieties.  Entrees feature natural and fresh ingredients, including apple bourbon chicken, salmon in a maple sauce, and bacon wrapped beef medallions.  The numerous vegetarian dishes include butternut squash risotto and chili dusted avocadoes. Open for lunch and dinner. Address: 15 Elm Street, Milford; phone: 603-672-1556; website:

NH Property Tax Rates

If you’re looking for a new home, how much money you’ll have to spend on property taxes is probably one factor you’re considering.  Property taxes in New Hampshire are higher than many states to compensate for the lack of a sales or income tax.  There’s an easy way to check what the tax rate is in the various NH towns, by going to the website of the NH Dept. of Revenue Administration.   Please note:  new property tax rates are determined in the fall for the coming year; the 2013 tax rates are in effect until late in 2014.  The latest tax rates are always displayed on the above site.

For charts showing comparative rates for NH cities and towns click here. For a map showing tax rates in adjoining towns, check out this unofficial tax map; unfortunately this resource is now a year out of date.

Looking for a new home? Let me help you!  Check out my website.  Give me a call: 603-321-9895.  Connecting People with Homes in Southern New Hampshire. 

– Steve Russo

Keene Restaurant Week

During Greater Keene Restaurant Week 2012  –  running from Monday 4/23 through Saturday 4/28  –  15 restaurants will be offering special low-priced menus to entice you to try their cuisine.   This is a great time to try a new eatery or to return to one you know but haven’t been to in a while.   Restaurants participating include traditional ones such as Papagallo’s, Luca’s, and Timberview (at the Keene Country Club), Asian eateries like Thai Garden, casual ones like Fireworks and Ramunto’s, and popular night spots such as Fritz, the Elm City Brewing Company, and Waxy O’Connor’s Traditional Irish Pub.

For more information on Greater Keene Restaurant Week –  including sample menus –  click here.

Country Cuisine 4: Mason

Mason is a town of rolling hills and winding roads, where many farms still thrive interspersed among the homes of long-time residents and recent arrivals.

Parker’s Maple Barn, open daily for breakfast and lunch, is in a large antique-decorated barn.  Well known locally for its pancake and omelet breakfasts, they also serve a full lunch menu highlighted by maple baby back ribs and roast turkey. They serve their own maple syrup, which is made in an adjoining maple sugar house; they offer demonstrations daily during maple sugaring season.  They also have a gift shop featuring a myriad of maple sugar products and souvenirs. They host an American Indian pow wow every September; their souvenir shop includes many Native American gifts. The restaurant is very popular.  Waits can be up to two hours long on summer and fall weekends; they suggest calling ahead. Address: 1316 Brookline Road, Mason; phone: 603-878-2308; website:

To get to Pickity Place one travels down scenic roads and over hills with great views.  This unique restaurant is well worth the trip. Its chefs are well-known for using a wide variety of fresh and dried herbs from their own gardens in their menu items. Their 5-course gourmet prix fixe menu changes monthly and always includes a vegetarian selection.  Some recent entrees included chicken saltimbocca with basil polenta, crab and gruyere phyllo purses, and vegetable moussaka. The grounds include an herb store and a greenhouse. There are three seatings for lunch daily; reservations are essential. Address: 248 Nutting Hill Road, Mason; phone: 603-878-1151; website:

Home Buyer Fair – April 14th

Don’t miss the Home Buyer Fair today at the Radisson Hotel in Manchester, 9AM – 2PM   Organized by the nonprofit New Hampshire Housing Finance Authority, this fair will present three programs on mortgage basics, how to look for a home, and what to expect in today’s housing market.  Admission is free; the fair is sponsored by the NH Association of Realtors, PSNH, and NeighborWorks America.

And after you attend the fair, if you have any questions about buying or selling a home, contact me.  See my contact info on my website:

– Steve Russo – Connecting People With Homes in Southern New Hampshire

Country Cuisine 3: Jaffrey

Located between Peterborough and Keene, Jaffrey is often overlooked by motorists.  The town has a lot of charm, with several 18th and 19th century homes, wide streets, and Mount Monadnock.

The Sunflowers Restaurant brightens up downtown Jaffrey with its vivid blue exterior – and the great food served within.  It advertises itself as “a cozy bistro with a gourmet twist.”  Classic dishes such as boeuf bourguignon, coquilles St. Jacques, and coq au vin highlight the menu.  Desserts include chocolate orange mousse, dark chocolate espresso cheesecake, lemon raspberry cake, and other mouth-watering offerings.  The dishes are complimented by works from local artists that grace the walls. Locally grown ingredients are featured. Open for lunch and dinner every day but Tuesday; there is live music on Sundays for brunch and dinner.  Address: 21 Main Street, Jaffrey; phone 603-593-3303; website:

The Thorndike Restaurant and Parson’s Pub are housed in the 1830’s Monadnock Inn (formerly the Inn at Jaffrey Center).  Featuring a mix of Continental and American dishes, the seasonal offerings include classics like brie, wild mushroom ravioli, and chicken Veronique as well as artichoke poppers, San Francisco pot roast, and ahi tuna salad. Homemade breads and rolls, elegant desserts, and an extensive wine list compliment the menu. Open Tuesdays through Saturdays for dinner.  Address: 379 Main Street, Jaffrey; phone: 603-532-7800; website:


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Country Cuisine 2: Brookline & Hollis

A few minutes west of Nashua are two unique and very different restaurants.  Well-loved by the locals, their high standards also attract diners who come from miles away to enjoy great dishes prepared well.

Lucia’s Tavola features Italian cuisine with an inventive twist. The extensive menu ranges from well-known Italian standbys like calamari and veal piccata to unique creations like lobster gnocchi and filetto Fulchino.  All entrees are served with homemade bread fresh from the oven.   Desserts are made on the premises – or imported from Italia.  Chef Marco and his restaurant have a monthly TV show, “From Our Tavola to Yours” filmed on location.  Dinner reservations recommended.  Address: 181 Route 13, Stony Ledge Plaza, Brookline; phone: (603) 249 – 9134; website:

A Lucia’s Tavola Special: Grilled Center Cut Filet with a Creamy Gorgonzola Sauce

Hollis Country Kitchen – Everything is made-to-order at this limited-seating restaurant located at the junction of routes 122 and 130 in Hollis. Breakfast offerings feature over 40 items, including not only the usual omelets, but Greek, Macedonian, kielbasa, and corned beef varieties.  Choose what real fruit you would like added to your pancakes from any of the following: apples, blueberries, bananas, cranberries, raspberries, and strawberries, and add chocolate chips and walnuts if you like – served with genuine New Hampshire maple syrup, of course.  The lunch and dinner menus are equally exhaustive, and include numerous simple and satisfying seafood, rotisserie chicken, burger, and salad dishes.  Address: 3 Proctor Hill Road, Hollis; phone: (603) 465 – 7040; menu website: