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For over two decades, foodies have flocked to Boston during March’s Dine Out Boston, formerly known as Restaurant Week, to sample some of the city’s popular eateries with prix fixe menus at affordable price points. But Boston isn’t the only city in Massachusetts with a stellar dining scene.

Newburyport’s Restaurant Week returns for the first time since before the pandemic this Sunday, March 12 through Sunday, March 26. Over a dozen spots have put together special Restaurant Week prix fixe menus at lunch price points of $22, $26, or $32, and dinner price points of $36, $42, or $46.

Newburyport Restaurant Week “is a perfect opportunity for folks who haven’t dined in Newburyport to try something new at an affordable price,” says Erin Duggan, director of marketing and events at the Greater Newburyport Chamber of Commerce. “We have so many fabulous restaurants that range from higher end experiences to a simple mom and pop experience and everything in between.”

Participating restaurants include Tuscan Sea Grill & Bar, Sea Level Oyster Bar, Metzy’s Cantina, the Paddle Inn, Oregano Pizzeria, and The Poynt. The full lineup of restaurants can be found on the Newburyport chamber’s website.

Lori Parolisi, general manager of Tuscan Sea Grill & Bar, says that, because of the restaurant’s gorgeous waterfront location, the summer season gets a bit crazy. In fact, most restaurants in seaside Newburyport are slammed in July and August, but business is much slower in the winter. Restaurant Week, however, gives residents and tourists alike a chance to try some of the city’s most popular restaurants in a quieter setting.

“A lot of people may shy away during the busy times,” says Parolisi, “but now is a great time for them to come taste the great food of the [Tuscan] brand and see the beautiful restaurant.”

Tuscan Sea Grill’s Restaurant Week menu includes down-to-earth favorites like a beet salad and a roast chicken with fingerling potatoes. But Parolisi is most looking forward to the lobster arancini—served as the second course, the arborio rice ball is stuffed with succulent knuckle and claw meat and rolled in housemade focaccia bread crumbs. Note that Tuscan Sea Grill’s Restaurant Week dinner menu, like many others, isn’t available on Fridays or Saturdays. 

“I was born and raised in Newburyport so it’s very near and dear to me to see the hustle and bustle of [the city],” says Parolisi, who opened up Tuscan Brands’ original restaurants in Salem and Portsmouth before coming back home, adding that Restaurant Week will bring much needed off-season business to the downtown area.

“We’re hoping to attract people who aren’t just regulars,” says Parolisi, “but people who will try us for the first time.”

Dine, shop, and stay

Over a dozen shops in downtown Newburyport have joined the Restaurant Week promotion, too, offering various special offers with a valid receipt from Restaurant Week throughout the initiative. Visit the chamber’s website for the full list of participating retailers.

Duggan says that early spring is a perfect time to make a weekend getaway to Newburyport. Stay at one of the city’s charming B&Bs or inns like the Garrison Inn, the Inn at Ring’s Island, the Compass Rose Inn, or the Clark Currier Inn for off-season rates, dine at Restaurant Week, visit some shops, and explore Newburyport’s arts and culture offerings. Catch a show at the Firehouse Center for the Arts, visit one of the city’s many art galleries, or listen to live music at Newburyport Brewing Co., the Joy Nest Restaurant, or Brown Sugar by the Sea.

Duggan also recommends taking advantage of Newburyport’s beaches in the wintertime, noting that folks come from all over the world for the region’s famous bird watching. “It’s less congested in the restaurants and there’s still so much going on,” says Duggan, “so why not come for a night and enjoy a couple meals and some arts and culture, too?”

Duggan is hopeful that Restaurant Week will activate Newburyport’s downtown for a couple of weeks this month. Give people a reason to get out of the house, and they’ll come. “People love to come out and try something new,” says Duggan, “and they love to try a restaurant they haven’t tried in the past at an affordable price.”

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