By Lara Bricker
May 13, 2008 6:00 AM
EXETER — Pimento's, a new casual gourmet style restaurant, should open for business on Water Street later this month.
The restaurant, which is located in the building that formerly housed Vincent's Restaurant and Sal and Anthony's, is the first business venture of Ken Linn and Rob Miller. Linn and Miller met when they both worked at Widow Fletcher's Tavern in Hampton where Miller was chef and Linn was a bartender.
"Rob and I both have a lot of restaurant experience," said Linn, a Greenland resident, who has worked in sales for the past few years but always wanted to own his own restaurant.
A Keene native, who attended the University of New Hampshire, Linn felt the time was right to start his own business. His fiancé is originally from Exeter and he felt the town could benefit from another dining option.
"We're very happy that we found a place in Exeter," he said. "This was my first choice for towns to open a restaurant in. I love the downtown. It's lively. You always see people walking around."
Linn and Miller loved the location of the building, which they rented through Peter Taylor, of Spoerl and Strathern Real Estate. "We loved the inside, we love the atmosphere," Linn said. "We love the view the downstairs has of the river."
The downstairs of the restaurant will serve as a more casual lounge with smaller sized portions and pub fare, while the upstairs of the building will operate as a more formal dining area.
Miller, who has worked at The Library Restaurant and Victory 96 State Street, both in Portsmouth, and the York (Maine) Harbor Inn, said the menu is an American style with an emphasis on fresh ingredients.
He was trained in French cuisine and some entrees will reflect that style of food.
The menu includes selections such as grilled halibut with roasted fennel and a basil oil, grilled Angus beef with a Pinot noir demi-glace and lobster and potato gnocchi. He plans to update the menu four times a year as the seasons change.
Miller aims to bring the atmosphere of a restaurant in Portsmouth or a larger city to downtown Exeter in a casual, fine dining setting. The downstairs lounge will include specialty martinis, carefully selected wines and an array of bottled beers.
"We have done a lot of work inside to make it comfortable," Linn said.
The bar was redone with a marble top and the two have added several flat screen televisions in the bar for patrons who want to keep an eye on the Red Sox, Patriots or other game.
Linn's fiancé suggested the name Pimentos, which can represent an addition to a cocktail or an entree. The restaurant's interior was painted in a rich olive green and red color to go along with the name.
The two men are looking forward to opening in the next few weeks and getting to know the community.
"We're really excited and we're hoping to get as many people in here as possible and have them come back for more," Miller said. "Our goal is to make everybody happy with great food, great service and a great atmosphere."