Opening a restaurant featuring Southern cuisine in northern New England may seem like an unusual direction to take, but for Neil Scibelli and partners, it was exactly the right move. Sol, located on State Street in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, introduces guests to a broad range of Southern cuisine, including the spicy palate of Creole, the exotic blends of Floribbean, the French influences of Cajun, the hearty flavors of Appalachia and more.
We felt that there was a void in the marketplace for a restaurant of this type and that diners would embrace something different,” explains Scibelli. “We have made an effort to be true to Southern traditions throughout, from the décor to the menu. Our goal is to educate guests about these wonderful foods.”
Indeed, the menu provides helpful background about the South’s regional culinary differences, and offers a tempting array of choices from shrimp po’boys to gumbo, muffuletta, Low Country Chicken bog, and even frog legs, a Southern classic that guests have embraced. When asked what he considers a signature dish, Scibelli responds, “Shrimp and grits. This dish has strong historical roots. African slaves brought their corn dishes to the South and married them to local foods, such as shrimp. When you eat this dish, you savor flavors steeped in history.”
The atmosphere is also a draw, as Sol offers several dining areas, each with its own theme. The attention to detail is everywhere, from the handmade farmer’s table in the main dining room, to the seating made from Mississippi church pews, and the burnt ash tables. Most striking is the New Orleans-themed upstairs bar and dining area with its red velvet ceiling, green chandelier and blue alligator print wallpaper. Another dining room features chalk art of jazz greats.
For a true taste of the South, Sol is an oasis of authenticity here in the Granite State.