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Downtown Restaurant Scene Sizzles

Several new eateries, sidewalk cafes and retail stores bring excitement to city's summer season.

In just three short months, the city has seen several new restaurants, shops and sidewalk cafes that have either opened for business or will soon be open for the busy summer season.

Where to begin... How about that will offer patrons five new places to go for outdoor dining with alcohol service. Besides returning sidewalk cafes like Popovers on the Square and The District, dining patrons who desire al fresco can now go to Ri Ra Irish Pub, State Street Saloon and Surf on Bow Street.

Meanwhile, , Rudi's Market Square, on Congress Street that is close to the . On Penhallow Street, Portsmouth restaurateur Jay McSharry opened the new Moxy Modern American Tapas restaurant just before Memorial Day weekend.

Over on Pleasant Street, the is getting closer to opening its doors at the former Sakura Bana Japanese restaurant in the same building that will be home to the new .

While the may have hurt some State Street businesses, it hasn't prevent some existing restaurants from expanding or entrepreneurs from re-using former establishments.

Alex Ray, owner of the Common Man restaurant, announced his plans earlier this spring to purchase the former Canine Cupboard next door to his restaurant so he can expand the lounge and create an outdoor dining deck above it.

Across the street, valet garage and transforming it into a new eatery. will soon open a new shop on the upper portion of State Street to give patrons more options on those hot summer days.

On the lower end of Congress and Fleet streets, some new eateries and retail stores are taking shape. For example, on 90 Fleet St., the city just issued a building permit to Andrea Rossetto to create the new Dolce Freddo Gelato, Inc., store that will have sit down dining for 10 customers. Around the corner on Congress Street, the new Stone Pony store, a North Face retailer, just opened in the space formerly occupied by EarthTec and the former Bellman's Jewelers store that was located inside the Kearsarge House will soon be home to the new Alex and Ani (+Energy) hand crafted jewelry store.

But the restaurant and retail activity has not been confined to just downtown Portsmouth. Momma Di's Casa di Pasta restaurant on the Route One Bypass is moving forward with its plans to expand in the former Asia restaurant in Newington. recently opened in the Market Basket plaza next to Petco. Meanwhile, the store in Newington is right on scheduled to be opened in September.

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