Once again, find a passion for Italy in Keene’s Railroad Square. The former Nicola’s space was updated in 2021 with a dedicated new entrance on the west side, so no more circling the building twice to find the door. The Tuscan look with bright yellows in the interior has been replaced with a clean and modern vibe, featuring warm tones of beige in the seating with black tablecloths for accents — very classy.
The new name, Granita Enoteca, implies a wine bar. The space now includes a glass-walled wine room, a big feature, as they offer more than 3,000 bottles and have been lauded by Wine Spectator. A few half-walls were removed to open the dining area, and beautiful banquette seating in the bar seems the perfect spot to mingle with a few friends.
The cuisine remains Italian but maybe less rustic this time. Chef Adán Morales has been brought in from Pennsylvania where he was chef de cuisine at the upscale Nemacolin Woodlands Resort. At Granita, he is focusing on Italian dishes made with quality ingredients, and made even more enjoyable with his expert plating techniques. After all, you eat with your eyes first.
As for preparation, when asked about his style, Chef Adán replies, “Keep it simple, but use the best ingredients.” Fall dishes include a stunning antipasti board featuring local cheeses, cured meats and leaf-shaped pasta cut and fried for accent. The Caesar salad is served in a Parmesan tuile set on a board along with a tiny jar of dressing and chunks of Parmigiana-Reggiano. All pastas are made in-house and the rigatoni is served with a bright red pomodoro sauce. Cider-brined pork from Archway Farm is accompanied by roasted apples, squash, Brussels sprouts and finished with an apple cider glaze. Chef Adán also uses local mushroom grower Dave Wichland’s products to make a mushroom gnocchi and more.
Other menu items range from the familiar, such as a chicken Parmigiana, to the more urbane, including squid ink linguine and Mediterranean octopus. There’s something for everyone and each dish has suggested wines for accompaniment. As wine selection is a big part of the ethos here along with the Italian sensibility, a series of six-course wine dinners are planned for the coming season, including a Thanksgiving Feast on November 22 and the Taste of Milan on December 20.
Granita is a great find, a place to sip a nice wine — maybe in those plush banquettes in the bar — and savor the food while soaking in the total experience. You are out of the house. Enjoy!