Chef Josh Marshall of David's Tavern with P.E.I. mussels steamed in white wine and garlic with tomato and fresh basil, served with garlic toast, one of three appetizer options the restaurant will be serving for Restaurant Week.

1The Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce and Industry has 18 good reasons, as various eateries will take part in Restaurant Week, offering a special menu at a fixed price from March 20 to 24.

Restaurant Weeks have been gaining popularity in recent years as dining establishments seek to draw in business during their slower periods by offering special menu options at a set price.

Boston had a winter Restaurant Week from March 6 to 18, with the exception of Saturday, March 12, and Portsmouth, N.H., and the Seacoast will hold a Restaurant Week from March 24 to April 2.

"People are ready to get out," said Chamber of Commerce President Ann Ormond. "The response has been really good."

All different types of restaurants from Newburyport, Salisbury and Amesbury will take part in the program. Each of the restaurants will offer a three-course "prix fixe" (predetermined) dinner menu priced at either $20 or $30 per person. That price does not include beverages, taxes or gratuity.

Ormond said the city has mulled the idea of hosting the program in the past, as many other communities do. "It's been on my radar for a while; it's definitely something that I've been a fan of," Ormond said.

Discussions began in earnest last fall, she said, and the business community pulled together to organize it.

"I am very excited for it," said Francis Broadbery, the executive chef/co-owner of Plum Island Grille.

The price option — $20 to $30 — was determined by the planning committee, Ormond said.

"That was the conventional wisdom," she said. A $20 price point offers an option for diners on a budget, she added.

Stephen Pfingst, owner of David's Tavern on Brown Square in Newburyport, said the promotion should bring people into town during an otherwise generally "quiet month."

His $30 menu offers a main course entree selection of fresh herb-rubbed salmon, petite New York strip steak or a roasted half chicken.

Restaurant Week also allows David's to try out new dishes, he said, in order to get feedback. "It's a nice way to test the waters," he said.

Customers are already calling to inquire about the program, he added, which is "a very good sign."

"I don't remember that happening last time we tried it," Pfingst said.

Also during the week, diners can take part in a retail promotion. By bringing in a receipt of $50 or more from any participating restaurant, a customer will receive 15 percent off their purchase.

Broadbery, who lives close to Portsmouth and takes part in that Restaurant Week, has been an advocate for the program here. "It's nice to see it started," he said.

"It's a lot of fun to go to your favorite restaurant and have a nice meal," he added. The Plum Island Grille is normally closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but will be open those days during Restaurant Week. They already have 25 reservations over those two days, he added.

Diners also get a good deal, Broadbery said. If a customer typically orders a three-course meal at the Plum Island Grill, it could cost $45 to $50 depending on what entree they select, he said.

"It's a pretty big savings," Broadbery said.

The restaurants include: Agavé© Mexican Bistro, Black Cow Tap & Grill, Capri Seaside Italian Grille & Bar, Ceia Kitchen + Bar, David's Tavern on Brown Square, Glenn's Restaurant and Cool Bar, The Grog, Loretta, Michael's Harborside, Mission Oak Grill, Not Your Average Joe's, Oregano Pizzeria & Ristorante, Plum Island Grille, Ristorante Molise, Seaglass Restaurant at Pavilion, Starboard Galley, Spotlight Cafe, Ten Center Street Restaurant & Pub.


What: Restaurant Week

When: March 20 to 24

Where: 18 area restaurants

How: No passes, tickets or coupons required. Reservations are encouraged, but not required; contact each restaurant directly. To view each restaurant's menu, visit The Chamber of Commerce's website at www.newburyportchamber.org.

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