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XO on Elm: The Restaurant That Loves You Back

By Elisha Neubauer

We all have certain restaurants that we just love - places where some combination of the menu, service, and atmosphere clicks in a way that keeps us passionately coming back. XO on Elm in Manchester seems to understand how to inspire that sort of passion from its customers, and feels the same love for them.

"XO's philosophy is all related to love, starting from greeting customers when they come in, to servers making the dining experience memorable, to the chef preparing all the dishes with extra care and attention to detail and accommodating customer dietary needs," says Rosa Paolini, owner of XO on Elm. "Our goal is that every customer feels the love we all share as a family at XO, which stands for 'hugs and kisses.'"

XO's international menu features creative dishes from all over the world. Born and raised in Italy, where all meals are made with locally-sourced ingredients, Paolini says she strives to bring seasonal recipes that ensure the full flavor of each ingredient to the XO menu. The base sauces, demiglaces, marinades, and slow braise recipes - like the slow-braised lamb shank served with poached pear and gorgonzola risotto - are straight from the Paolini family recipe book.

"Everything on our menu is extremely popular," Paolini says. "We have many customers who come back very often because every dish in our menu is their favorite and of course they can't eat all of them in one dinner! Our most popular XO specials are definitely the Chilean Seabass; the Seafood Chopino, which is my mom's recipe; and the Gluten Free Tiramisu."

Paolini says favorite appetizers at XO are the stuffed dates filled with cream cheese and Spanish chorizo sausage wrapped in Italian pancetta and finished with a red wine reduction drizzle. Popular drinks include the tableside Signature Sangria and the creative Hot and Dirty infusion - which features five different types of peppers infused in vodka and served with a deep fried, bacon-wrapped pepperoncini as a garnish.

Though the food and drink menus at XO were carefully crafted, Paolini says she and her wait staff are also willing to customize dishes according to dietary needs.

"I have all of respect for all cultures, dietary restrictions, and likes in taste so we want to make sure we cater to all without any discrimination," she says. "Our kitchen team is passionate about pleasing all of our customers' requests. Our philosophy is if we have the ingredients in the house, we make it possible, and if we do not have it, you can give us a 24-hour notice, and we make it happen."

XO on Elm also has a room for private functions, where they can cater parties of up to 100. The modern, warm décor and dance floor add to the atmosphere for special occasions.

"We want customers to feel like they are home and they are welcome and we miss them already before they are even gone," Paolini says. "Bottom line is when you come to XO we make sure you do not leave without feeling the love."

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About The Author

Elisha Neubauer is a freelance editor, ghostwriter, book reviewer, and author. She is...

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