The Hippo


Mar 24, 2018








Harold Square, New York-style deli and pizza restaurant in Londonderry. Allie Ginwala photos.

Visit Harold Square

Where: 226 Rockingham Road, Londonderry

A deli, and then some
Former Whippersnappers chef takes over Harold Square

By Allie Ginwala

 When Whippersnappers in Londonderry closed last November, executive chef Mike Cook was faced with an uncertain future — but not for long. Within a week of one door closing, another opened, and Cook and his wife Maureen were given the chance to take over Harold Square, a New York-style deli and restaurant in Londonderry that had been closed for about a year.

“The location is great; it’s on a really busy road,” Mike Cook said. “The first owner had a great reputation, and then when we met Harold … the landlord. He’s the nicest guy and such an enthusiastic landlord.”
Harold Square has an atmosphere that’s comfortable and casual, but with upscale touches here and there that elevate the space beyond a quick-stop pizza or sandwich joint. The simple, unclothed tables are topped with clear jars filled with multicolored pebbles and a plush couch is tucked into one corner of the open dining area. The pizza stands for eat-in guests are miniature stools in rustic reds and yellows and the silverware, already in place at each setting, is wrapped in a thick paper napkin and tied with a small string.
Though its only been open for seven weeks, Harold Square has already established a regular following. Mid-afternoon on a recent Monday, Mike and Maureen waved, said hello to or stopped to chat with each customer enjoying a meal. 
One woman stopped on her way out to tell Maureen how much she liked the mushroom soup that she tried for the first time that day, along with the muffaletta sandwich. Cook responded with surprise and pride, noting that the woman was great about trying something new each time she came to eat.
“We have our regulars,” she said. “There’s people that come in three times a week.”
As former executive chef of both Whippersnappers and the Concord Food Co-op, Cook draws from his diverse background to create the atmosphere he wants for Harold Square. 
“[The owner] at Whippersnappers was very about wow factor — he wanted the wow on the plate — and the Co-op is all about fresh, fresh, fresh, make it from scratch,” he said. “So that’s what I’m kind of pulling from, those two.”
Cook has a particular affinity for New York-style delis— “I love just huge sandwiches; it’s just my thing,” he said— so his menu features plenty of sandwich options like Reubens, roast beef, pastrami and fried haddock.
“We make our corned beef [and] our pastrami. We’re smoking it out back,” he said. “We brine our own bacon and smoke our own bacon.”
They debuted a new menu on March 1 with new dinner entrees to go along with the pizza, sandwiches, salads and soups, based on the demand from customers who wanted more evening choices. Braised short ribs, salmon florentine and poached haddock are part of the new selection, as well as a sous vide ox tail osso bucco braised in a red wine marinara.
Initially the plan was for a fairly limited menu, but with more and more requests coming in, they kept expanding.
“Our whole staff is involved in prepping, it’s not just the kitchen guys,” Maureen Cook said. “The servers prep the food too so they know what’s in it. [It] just makes them more knowledgeable.”
With two months of business behind them, the Cooks are still getting the word out about the new Harold Square and adding touches that fulfill their vision for the restaurant, like the small herb garden right by the entrance. Mike Cook hopes to expand it in the future and also add some tomato plants for folks to smell and walk past as they come in to eat. 
“It looks nice in the vestibule, and if we’re just looking for a little bit of oregano or rosemary, our pizza guy will run out there and clip a little bit off,” Maureen Cook said. 

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