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SMALL BITES

Here are some excerpts from recent Dining Out reviews. Full Dining Out reviews appear every other Sunday.

Bont

287 Exeter Road, Hampton, N.H.

603- 929-7972

We weren't on vacation, but it was easy to pretend.

That happens at Bont, a delightful, warm Italian restaurant. For appetizers, we tried the caprese salad ($9), a dish of homemade mozzarella layered with fresh tomatoes and basil. We also sampled the pan-seared scallops ($12), which were crispy, having been sauteed in olive oil, garlic, and lemon.

Bont -- which means "bountiful" -- has an ample menu, with meats, pastas, seafood, and some classic Italian dishes.

The artichoke ravioli ($18) was heavier than we expected, but we were pleased because we secretly wanted something alfredoish to fill our stomachs.

The veal piccata ($27) was our favorite, served with a tasty mushroom and white-wine sauce.

We ended the meal with the creme brulee ($7), which was classic and just the right texture.

Bont would be a good destination for those looking for a special evening out or an escape that's just off the highway.

MEREDITH GOLDSTEIN

Jimmy's Steer House

114 Broadway (Route 1 North), Saugus

781-233-8600

When you're in search of a decent meal and you're not sure where to go, you always feel comfortable choosing Jimmy's.

It is foremost a steakhouse, and there are plenty of red meat choices, from burgers to filet mignon. But you don't have to have beef. The menu caters to popular choices that include a few chicken dishes and lots of seafood.

On this visit, the restaurant offered a special of baked stuffed shrimp and teriyaki steak tips ($14.99). Three large juicy shrimp were topped with a moist stuffing. A half dozen large nuggets of steak tips were grilled as ordered and were tender and full of sweet, smoky flavor.

Before our entrees arrived, we snacked on a large plate of fried calamari ($6.99), warm, golden, and fairly tender, and an order of appropriately seasoned buffalo chicken tenders ($6.49).

A chocolate dessert called "Outrageous" ($3.99) was too tempting to resist. Its billing exceeded its performance.

Our food came promptly and as ordered, as did drinks and refills, including a glass of Tremont Ale on draft, just one more reason to keep us coming back.

PHIL SANTORO

Pescione's Kitchen

1070 Main St., Malden

781-322-3783

Pescione's will celebrate its 13th birthday on Labor Day weekend.

Not much has changed at this family-owned Italian restaurant. Richard Marcella and his wife, Phyllis, whose maiden name is Pescione, are still at the helm. The kitchen still turns out megaportions of pasta and other Italian fare. And, in a practical twist, the menu is still categorized by prices rather than types of food, such as "dinners under $7," "dinners under $8," and so on.

The restaurant's 80-seat dining room is dimly lighted. But some of the cooking at Pescione's gives the North End a run for its money.

After one forkful of the cappellini with ham and broccoli ($4.95), an appetizer nicknamed the "cap app," it became one of my favorite pasta dishes of all time. It's such a popular dish that it's now available as an entree, too.

Butternut squash ravioli ($13.95) sweetened with amaretto is one of the most delicious pastas I've ever had.

SACHA PFEIFFER

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