Let’s Go Out To Dinner…Bonta Restaurant

When my husband says “let’s go out to dinner”, my thoughts turn to somewhere romantic and special. I enjoy having dinner where the tables are set with fresh flowers and candles. It doesn’t have to be gourmet but I want the food to be at least as good as what I prepare at home. Hopefully the meal will be excellent and memorable enough so that I can’t wait to return.

Bonta, Hampton, NH

I thought that I would take you to one such restaurant, Bonta in Hampton, New Hampshire. Bonta meets my expectations  of what a good restaurant should be. The cuisine is one of my favorites… Mediterranean and Italian dishes both familiar and modern.

The lovely restaurant is just a few miles inland from the New Hampshire seacoast and not too far of a drive from our home. As you turn into their drive and pass the beautiful landscaped grounds, you might think that you had been invited to share a meal with friends at a very nice Tuscan farmhouse or villa.

Bonta...Looks Like A Very Nice Tuscan Farmhouse Or Villa

Once you enter the restaurant, you are greeted warmly by Alex MacQuisten, the restaurant manager. If you have a reservation, he will quickly escort you to your table. If you are there for after work cocktails or a casual date night, you might like to sit at their beautiful mahogany bar and sip one of their special martinis or a glass of wine.

The Warm Interior With Stained Glass Light Fixtures

The interior of the restaurant has the same warm colors as the outside…golden walls and sage green wooden trim. You immediately notice the stained glass light fixtures that create a warm and cozy feeling.  The well spaced tables are set with crisp linens, fresh flowers and candles and have comfortable leather chairs. There is a massive stone fireplace in the center of main dining room that is lit in cold weather. The whole decor gives an upscale yet inviting ambiance to the restaurant.

Bonta has a good wine list with a nice choice of wines by the glass. I usually order a glass while I look over the menu.  A basket of house made breads is brought to the table while you make your dinner selections.

Let me share some of the delicious dishes that my husband and I have enjoyed on our visits and that I think you might enjoy.

Antipasto

Antipasto of gorgonzola with fresh honey, house baked olive bread, salami, roasted pepperonata, white bean spread, and broccoli rabe.

Artichoke Arancini

Artichoke arancini with mascarpone crème and arugula pesto.

Pappardelle With Wild Boar

Pappardelle with wild boar and sautéed broccolini.

Orecchiette Carbonara With Peas And Candied Lemon

Orecchiette carbonara with peas and candied lemon.

Sole Stuffed With Crab, Grilled Asparagus And Bacon Butter

Sole stuffed with crab, grilled asparagus, and smoked bacon butter.

Halibut With A Tomato Torta

Halibut with cumin spice rub, and tomato torta.

Seared Black Grouper, Creamy Polenta, Swiss Chard With Barolo Wine Sauce

Seared Black Grouper with creamy polenta, swiss chard and a Barolo wine sauce.

Semifreddo With Hazelnut Brittle, Brandy Soaked Cherries, And Dark Chocolate Ganache

Semifreddo with hazelnut brittle, brandy soaked cherries and a dark chocolate ganache.

Bonta has a new Executive Chef, Kevin Riley. Chef Riley is a 2001 graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and has worked at the Four Seasons in Boston, sous chef at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, the executive chef at Todd English’s restaurant Olives, and the Aqua Knox at the Venetian Hotel in Las Vegas.

The dishes that he prepares are both traditional and innovative. His menus include fresh  produce and meats sourced from local farms throughout the New England area and seafood from the local waters.

Bonta means bountiful and I think it is the perfect name for a restaurant that I consider one of the best in the seacoast region of New Hampshire. The restaurant is lovely, the service is friendly and attentive, and the food is delicious. If you live nearby or are visiting the area as a tourist, I hope you will enjoy a romantic dinner at Bonta as much as I do.

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About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
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135 Responses to Let’s Go Out To Dinner…Bonta Restaurant

  1. Mad Dog says:

    The food looks fabulous – what a treat!

  2. paninigirl says:

    Wow-what an incredible meal-you are lucky to have some place like this near you.

  3. Great review, Karen! I know where we’d be eating if we found ourselves in that neck of the woods…Are they open at lunch, or only dinner?
    (People already think we’re crazy when we drive to Boston for dinner and don’t spend the night. If we round-tripped NH just to eat, the neighbors might have us committed! ;) )

    • Karen says:

      Hi Marie, Thank you for your nice compliment. I know what you mean about how far you will travel for a meal. We will drive over to Woodstock, Vt. for lunch. The restaurant serves Sunday brunch but only through Mother’s Day then it will only be open in the evenings. You would have to plan for an overnight stop.

  4. katiepede says:

    Rather hungry now….

  5. Lea Ann says:

    Now that’s exactly what I’m looking for when we go out to dinner. Beautiful restaurant. Love those pasta dishes and that black grouper with chard and barolo sauce looks divine.

  6. Hi Karen, This looks like a very interesting menu. The dishes all look very well put together and it’s someplace I would definitely try. I love eating out but I’m so picky. I don’t want to spend the money to go eat something I can make equally or better at home for half the cost. I don’t need gourmet either. Fresh, original and something a little special. Great shots. Did you take these yourself at the table? I still struggle with restaurant photos.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Wendy, Thank you for your nice compliment. I totally agree…when you go out you want something special. Yes, I took the photos at the table. I have a small point and shot camera that I use when dining in a restaurant. I try to use it discreetly so as not to disturb other diners. Naturally, they are not as good as I would like them to be because of the lighting.

  7. savourytable says:

    What a lovely evening. There’s a restaurant in Houston that reminds me of this place. Delicious food and a great atmosphere. You dinner looks just wonderful. Thanks for taking us along.

  8. oh how awesome is this restaurant!i love it. the sole stuffed crab looks delicious!

  9. ChgoJohn says:

    Looks like a great place to dine, Karen, and I could easily feast on any of the dishes you’ve shared with us. If I’m ever in the area, this would be one restaurant I would definitely visit.

    • Karen says:

      Hi John, Thank you for your comment. This is by far one of the nicest restaurants in our area. It is nice to go to a restaurant where they remember you, you get good service and the food is always good. I know that you have fantastic restaurants in your area as well.

  10. T Hollis says:

    Yum and yum! Thanks to your Post I can no longer put off eating my breakfast!
    Thanks for stopping by my Post today!

  11. Tandy says:

    It sounds wonderful, and your photos made me quite hungry :)

  12. Love this post and pictures. Thanks for sharing such a special place

  13. Judy says:

    Great review of the restaurant, Karen. I’m with you, a good restaurant should give attention to details, including atmosphere. I am so enjoying the gorgeous flowering trees from all over the country, thanks for including that too. What a wonderful meal.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Judy, Thank you for your very nice compliment. I wish more restaurants paid attention to the details. Dining out should be a pleasure for all the senses.

  14. Wow – that place looks so beautiful and I love all the fancy food!! I’ve wanted to try making polenta for a while now and now I’ll have to try it sooner or later because it looks delicious!

  15. twbarritt says:

    Bountiful, indeed! What lovely dishes (I really like the presentation for the antipasto – and the pastas look luscious)! I hope to make a visit to Bonta someday.

    • Karen says:

      Hi T.W., Thank you for your comment. I especially enjoyed the antipasto the way is was presented as well. If you are ever in the seacoast region of New Hampshire, definitely make a visit to Bonta.

  16. Katerina says:

    I am pretty sure I had lunch in this restaurant while I was studying there! If we are talking about the same place then indeed the food was really good!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Katerina, You very well may have eaten at Bonta…it has been a business for quite some time. I think the new chef is doing a great job…we have had wonderful meals there lately.

  17. Larry says:

    I know it’s partly due to our making better meals at home and partly due to the number of fast food rasied people therefore thinking Olive Garden and Chili’s represents the good food, so the restaurant standards are lower. I have trouble finding restaurants that satisfy “…I want the food to be at least as good as what I prepare at home.” Your lucky to have one nearby and after looking at your shots and Bonta’s menu, I see why you like to go there.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Larry, I totally agree with you…fast food restaurants have definitely influenced what some people consider good food. When I dine out, I want freshly prepared food from quality ingredients. Bonta definitely lives up to my expectations. A lot of care goes into each of their dishes.

  18. Bonnie says:

    i need to return to this post with a glass of wine in hand. Bonta is going in my New England file. with our son living there, our trips will be more frequent.
    still a one finger typist here.

    best,
    bonnie

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bonnie, Glad to see you out in the blogworld even with just one finger typing. Hope your wrist is on the mend. I know you will enjoy dinner at Bonta on your next visit to New England.

  19. Norma Chang says:

    My kind of restaurant and my kind of dishes. Love the antipasto presentation. If I am ever in the area will certainly go there.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Norma, I love going to Bonta, they treat you special and the food is great. Isn’t the antipasto prevention nice. The gorgonzola with the honey was especially nice. We keep returning to try all the different dishes on the menu.

  20. Karista says:

    What a lovely and delicious meal! I love a good restaurant with really fabulous food. The kind of food that made you glad you went out to eat. :)

  21. KarenCooking says:

    Oh, this is lovely! And every one of those dishes looks perfect.

  22. I feel very full just looking at all those delicious photos. What a beautiful dining place…the light, the ambience…the cuisine..just what a good restaurant should be ini all ways. There is nothing like a good dining experience. Thanks.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Teresa, Bonta is a lovely restaurant. I agree…when we go out for dinner, it should be a nice experience. We always leave the restaurant very satisfied.

  23. Everything looks amazing, and I like that the restaurant is in a house!

  24. Well Chef Riley certainly has the credentials. And, this is not far from here either. I’m with you though regarding a good meal – I would much rather pay for 1 excellent dinner than 4 “eh” dinners. And the ambiance is a big part of the experience for me. One of my pet peeves is this trend of the open kitchen (not so bad as it goes) but they tend to go with no ceilings – just all the pipes & crossbars showing on the ceiling which makes all the noise bounce around so that you can’t have a conversation during dinner. This looks like a very comfortable, relaxing place…I like it already.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Diane, for your nice comment. I love that tables are so well space at Bonta…no loud noise and you can share a nice conversation with someone sitting across from you. I agree totally about paying for one excellent dinner instead of mediocre food at half the price.

  25. Eva Taylor says:

    What a beautiful restaurant, Karen. That was quite a bonta meal, so much selection, it looks absolutely delicious.
    Eva http://kitcheninspirations.wordpress.com

  26. WOW The food looks absolutely delicious…
    Can I tell you I am so hungry now!!! :-)

  27. My parents-in-law live in NH and I absolutely want to check this restaurant out now – thanks for sharing :)

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pumpkin, I hope you get a chance to visit the restaurant with your parents-in-law. I think you will really enjoy it. I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

  28. viveka says:

    Karen, you seems to be very pleased with your meal and your evening. I would have gone with the halibut too – looks really good and the wild boar – with the artichoke arancini for my starter.
    Thanks for taking me there … if I come to New Hampshire _ I will ask you to join me.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Viveka, Yes, my husband and I really do enjoy the restaurant. We have had a perfect meal each time we have visited. The halibut was one of my favorite dishes. It is not on a lot of menus in our area. If you come to New Hampshire, it would be wonderful to share a meal.

  29. The outside shot with the cherry blossoms was gorgeous! The artichoke arancini looked divine as did the halibut dish! Glad you enjoyed your dinner out!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ducky, This is such a pretty time of the year with all the blooming trees. I love arancini and the ones at the restaurant were so good mixed with the artichoke.

  30. flavorsofthesun says:

    What a great-looking menu. Sounds so appetizing. Wish I had something similar closer to where I live!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Victoria, I know that a you have wonderful restaurants where you are. I would love them because they would be so different from what we can get here.

  31. Oh my, I want to try every single one of those beautiful dishes starting with the crab stuffed sole. I agree with you, Karen. What’s the point of going out if the atmosphere isn’t enjoyable and the food isn’t better than what we have at home. Bonta looks like it fills the bill.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Cathy, The sole stuffed with crab is very good…I have ordered it twice. I wish restaurants understood that we really do want excellent food when we visit them. So many think that they can cut corners…from decor, service and the quality of food. Then they wonder why their business is not successful. I’m like you, I would rather stay at home unless I know that I’m going to get an exceptional meal. Thank goodness Bonta is an easy drive from our house and we can visit often.

  32. A_Boleyn says:

    What a gorgeous assortment of dishes you’ve enjoyed. I love them all but in the interest of my slim girlish (snork!!) figure, I’d probably deny myself the antipasto because I’m not fond of blue cheese or the pepperonata. The next time I deep fry (which I don’t do more than than once a year) I must make arancini as well as my usual beef samosas.

    • Karen says:

      Thank you Boleyn, for your nice comment. You really should make arancini the next time you are deep frying. I love their crispy exterior and their soft creamy insides.

      • A_Boleyn says:

        I’ve been watching videos and researching recipes for the arancini. The first time I ever tried them, at an appetizer challenge for charity, they had shredded osso bucco inside. To die for!!

        The stuffed sole and halibut are also very tempting dishes. And the semi-freddo… just wow!

      • Karen says:

        Arancini are very popular here in New England and are usually stuffed with cheese, peas or meat. Osso bucco inside the ones that you had must have been wonderful. The seafood at Bonta is fresh and delicious. I always make sure I don’t get too full because I love their semi-freddo. It is the perfect ending to a meal.

  33. Wow, all that food looks fabulous! I am starving now.

  34. Gorgeous food, from start to finish. The artichoke arancini w/ mascarpone cream and arugula pesto has captured my imagination–what a perfect dish.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nancy, The food is wonderful at Bonta. I love arancini and when I saw this particular dish I knew it was for me. Believe me, it was as delicious as it sounds and looks.

  35. Purely.. Kay says:

    This restaurant actually looks wonderful. And I think that carbonara is definitely calling me right now lol. See I can’t come here when I’m hungry lol. And that halibut.. superb.

  36. Sue says:

    Karen, those photos are little works of art. Glad you have such a fine restaurant–love that decor….there’s something so relaxing about wood and stone.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sue, Thank you so much for your lovely compliment. We really are lucky to have such a nice restaurant that isn’t too far away. Yes…we have Boston an hour away, but if you want to have a leisurely dinner with a nice bottle of wine you have the long drive back. We don’t like to do that, so Boston is reserved for occasions when we can spend the night there. Bonta has the atmosphere and food like what we would find in Boston but is much closer.

  37. Mary says:

    I’ll have to check this out the next time we go through Hampton on our way to Maine! Thanks for a great tip!

  38. Hi Karen everything looks delicious and the place is gorgeous :)

  39. Look at you guys, slumming it again! Ha, looks amazing as usual.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Greg, I always love when you stop by and leave me a compliment that makes me smile or in this case, laugh. The food is amazing. Thank you!

  40. Yum and what a wonderful treat!

  41. Makes me want to travel to New Hampshire. Looks like a fabulous restaurant, very pretty and everything looks delicious. I’d really love some of that antipasto!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Carol, There are so many reasons to visit New Hampshire…all of New England as a matter of fact. Bonta is a lovely place to go for dinner. I love the way they present the antipasto. The gorgonzola was delicious with the honey…a great idea.

  42. What beautiful blooms in front of the restaurant, and all the food looks stunning! I’m a huge fan of arancini, and the pappardelle, the fish, how could you go wrong? But the dessert, wowsa!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Betsy, All of the blooming trees are so pretty and are very early this year. If the restaurant ever says that they ran out of semi-freddo, I might cry…it is so good.

  43. mykitchenstories says:

    I agree Karen it looks really really nice both in ambience and food. Wish I could visit
    http://www.mykitchenstories.com.au

    • Karen says:

      Hi Tania, Too bad you are almost half way around the world…very far away for an evening meal. I know that since you are a good cook that you could recreate one of the dishes.

  44. Ebie says:

    Nice shot of the restaurant with the pink cherry blossoms in the foreground! Your food looks so yummy!’

    RYC: Anacapa sounds foreign, you are right!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Ebie, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice comment. It is a beautiful time of the year with so many trees in bloom. The landscaping really makes you feel like you are visiting someone’s home.

  45. Beautiful photos, Karen, of delicious-looking food.

  46. I would like one order of each please. However that halibut looks like it would melt in your mouth.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Bam, All of the dishes that we have tried have been so good. You don’t see halibut on menus as often as other seafood. I’m glad that I ordered it at Bonta as it was really delicious.

  47. cjdelgrosso says:

    Wow Karen. Thanks for the review! I have seen this place often as it is about a 30 minute drive from where we live in Maine. I always wondered how it was. Now I just have to take my wife there!

    • Karen says:

      Hi CJ, I’m glad that I did the review since the restaurant is not that far for you to travel. I knew that you were in Maine but for some reason I thought you were further up the coast. We have really enjoyed our meals at Bonta. If you plan to go, be sure to make a reservation as sometimes they get busy. I hope you and your wife will enjoy the restaurant.

  48. Sissi says:

    It sounds like a perfect dinner! The food seems gorgeous and frankly I always wonder how you manage to take such good photos at dinner in a restaurant. Everything looks so luscious!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sissi, We do enjoy dining at Bonta. As far as my photos, I use a Sony point and shoot camera that is several years old. Nothing fancy but it does take good photos. It is the same camera that we take when we travel. I use a Canon EOS Rebel T3 for all the photos at home. It to too big to use for discreet photos in restaurants.

  49. Charles says:

    Wow, the antipasti, orecchiette and sole look especially amazing. What a fabulous looking restaurant… I’m quite jealous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Charles, Don’t you just love the way the restaurant did the antipasto…it was great with the house made olive bread. You don’t even know about jealous…I live in an area that some would consider a gastronomic wasteland compared to where you live in France. Don’t kid me…you are so lucky. You live outside of Paris…outside of Versailles…I live in rural New Hampshire.

  50. WOW! That’s not just a meal…that’s an experience! How fabulous!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Diane, Thank you for stopping by and your nice comment. This is one of our favorite restaurants in New Hampshire. The dishes are so good.

  51. Pat says:

    Bonta looks like a gem of a restaurant to have in your area, Karen! It is as fine as any that could be found in New York City. Chef Riley does a magnificent job. I’d love to try his Pappardelle With Wild Boar!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Pat, Thank you for your nice comment. Chef Riley does a great job. I’m looking forward to returning and trying more of his dishes. My husband thought the pappardelle was delicious.

  52. Kristy says:

    I have no doubt that Mike and I would love this restaurant. It looks exactly like the type of place we like to enjoy a date night. I’ll have to remember this one. :) The meal looks fabulous!

  53. I’ll take some semifreddo, please :-) Yum! What a fabulous place to dine! I would really prefer to dine out very infrequently and then have special places where the experience is the experience! I can purchase really good already prepared meals at most of our local quality grocery stores…so when I just don’t want to cook, that’s an option. When we go out I’d really prefer to dine! I think you have a definite winner here! Debra

  54. Debbie@Mountain Breaths says:

    I just found your blog, and look forward reading more! Love New Hampshire and Maine!

  55. mynycdiary says:

    I love your photos. What camera are you using for your food pictures?

    • Karen says:

      Thank you for your nice compliment. When I travel or when I take photos in restaurants I use a Sony Cyber-shot 7.2 mp that is quite a few years old. If I take a photo of what I have just cooked or around my homes and gardens, I use a Canon EOS Rebel T3. I hope that is helpful. I don’t have Photoshop so I am happy with my cameras.

      • writemenyc says:

        Thank you so much for your input! I almost can’t believe that these beautiful pix came from a Sony & a Canon when I’ve been raised on the superiority of Nikon. Glad to hear though. Thank you again for getting back to me on this & I am looking forward to more of your beautiful posts.

      • Karen says:

        I’m happy to share what I can with any blogger. I appreciate that you like my blog and photos. Thank you for your compliment and visit.

  56. Beth says:

    This restaurant looks fantastic! Every one of those meals looked mouth-watering, and it made me wish I lived in New Hampshire so I could visit. Thanks for sharing!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Beth, Thank you for your nice compliment. All of the meals have been great. If you ever visit New England on a vacation, you will have a suggestion of a nice restaurant.

  57. This post is making my mouth water! I am drawn especially to the pappardelle with wild boar and sautéed broccolini. Looks like it’s made with squash or sweet potato.

  58. Caroline says:

    H-o-l-y c-o-w. Every single dish looks incredible! I was trying to pick a favorite, but honestly don’t think I can. I want that orecchiette carbonara, the sole stuff with crab, the halibut…I could just go on and on. Wish this restaurant were closer to me!!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Caroline, You picked all of the dishes I have ordered and loved. I’m so happy that we have a nice restaurant that is close to home. We have wonderful restaurants in Boston but they are an hour away when traffic is good. You will have to plan a vacation to New England some day.

  59. What a pretty restaurant! I think I would have ordered what you did too! :)

  60. hotlyspiced says:

    The building that houses the restaurant is so beautiful. What a lovely husband you have to take you on such a lovely night out. I love aronchini balls – that would have been my favourite dish xx

  61. cabinet stew says:

    YUM! You had me at “gorgonzola and Honey” – Thanks for the review – to be honest I am certain we have driven by this restaurant a million times and never thought about it – but now I will! I love the coast in the off season too!

  62. **Semifreddo With Hazelnut Brittle, Brandy Soaked Cherries, And Dark Chocolate Ganache**
    Are you serious? I just gained 5 pounds!! WOW. I like it.

  63. lvaletutto says:

    Everything looks Delicious! Lucky you!

  64. Christine R. says:

    The food looks delicious here Karen! I may have to try it when I’m up at New Hampshire. Do you think you could replicate some of the recipes like the wild boar pasta and the arancini balls? I’d love to see your take on these.

    • Karen says:

      Hi Christine, Thank you so much for stopping by and leaving your nice compliment. I will definitely try to replicate the recipes. Thank you for your interest in my recipes.

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