Written by Madeline Ferland on January 26th, 2024.
Discover Sugar River Region is thrilled to share that the first ever Sugar River Social was hosted by Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza in Claremont. The social event took place on Thursday, January 25th in the River Room and went from 6 pm until about 8:30 pm. The evening was a success because it brought together around 25 community members excited for the year ahead. One attendee was so thrilled with the turn out and said, “I had such a great time! I made unexpected friends playing trivia as a group and overall I really enjoyed the experience. It was definitely a 10/10 event!”
The theme this inaugural month was simply a casual evening of mingling, learning about the organization and this new event series, and helping to plan future events by submitting ideas for upcoming themes, venues and activities. Then, much fun was had by attendees during a Sugar River Region trivia contest with a prize from Library Arts Center (shout out to the trivia champions – Team Eastern!) A surprise gift was bought from the Washington General Store and donated by a very generous individual – an awesome quarter zip that was raffled off to those who signed up to receive more information and get involved with DSRR. Our gracious host also offered $2-off burgers, along with plenty of other delicious food and beverages on their menu.
The article below highlights this month’s event sponsor, Ramunto’s, but before we brag all about our hosts… Let’s first answer the question of the evening: what are the Sugar River Socials?
“During conversations with employers and individuals, I learned that community members of all ages throughout the Sugar River Region feel unconnected. The idea behind Sugar River Socials is to give members of the community ways to connect with others in our region over similar interests. I’m thrilled to see the calendar coming together with opportunities to participate in a diverse variety of experiences that make our region wicked awesome, including arts, outdoor recreation, history, food, and so much more,” says Elyse Crossman, Executive Director of the Greater Claremont Chamber of Commerce and Chair of the Discover Sugar River Region’s Board of Directors. In our rural region, finding avenues for social interaction can be a challenge, making it tough for people to forge connections without designated social settings, especially if they’re new to the area. Recognizing this gap, we envisioned a solution: monthly meet-ups designed to break the social barriers and help to facilitate being a tourist in our own destination. Enter the Sugar River Socials, soon to become a staple in our community.
These monthly gatherings, planned with seasonal themes and special access or discounted activities, promise not only a chance to meet new faces and enjoy social moments but also an opportunity to acquaint everyone with Discover Sugar River Region’s mission. Beyond the joy of camaraderie, we aim to enhance local pride and contribute to the region’s prosperity. It’s about creating a space where community members can come together, have fun, and learn more about the positive initiatives shaping and celebrating our beloved region.
And guess who supports that mission? Yep, you got it, our hosts at Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza. “This initiative seems like it will be a huge benefit to the community and we are absolutely happy to support the mission,” said Shane, one of the managers at Ramunto’s.
Ramunto’s Brick Oven Pizza in Claremont is a family-owned restaurant operated by Brad and Luke Willey. Their parents bought the restaurant in 2007 from Cliff Ramunto himself, who had established it in 2006. Ramunto was inspired by the Long Island style New York Pizza, and that’s exactly the kind that is hand crafted every day at the restaurant. They have grown the company into a New England pizza franchise with 11 stores that prides itself on fresh ingredients and delicious meals in a welcoming and friendly environment. Ramunto’s in Claremont is the original location and “headquarters” that includes an events room with a scenic view of our beloved Sugar River, along with a full bar, and a sizable menu of Italian-American cuisine.
The location of the restaurant has a place in Sugar River Region history too. Brad shares that “this was the bleaching building for the woolen mill district, and the River Room [the events room] housed the water wheel, which powered the machinery within. A brick we found during repairs a few years ago is stamped 1902. The building later was a furniture store, before burning and sitting vacant for years.” The blackened beams and charred walls inside are evidence of this past.
In more recent history, a famous incident at the restaurant involved Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama, when they were running for the democratic nomination in 2016. They needed two chairs for their “unity” rally after the primaries, in Unity, NH. “Their staffers noticed our bar chairs, borrowing them for a day. The next day, our chairs were on front pages across the country!” How awesome is that?
Ramunto’s charming atmosphere and ambiance is like a cozy embrace, with the interior design reminiscent of the classic Italian Tuscan Kitchen style. Warm colors, the character of various wood grains, and the textured brick walls create an unmistakable sense of comfort, like a close relative’s home. The commitment to a family-friendly dining experience is evident with the selection and set up of the furniture – four large comfortable booths, two 8-top circle tables, and plenty of other spaces perfect for a group meal. The rustic yet refined decor wonderfully fuses the traditional and the contemporary – a blend of rustic charm and industrial sophistication. The warmth of the interior design reflects not only the restaurant’s commitment to providing an authentic Italian dining experience but also pays homage to the building’s heritage and its former status as an industrial textile mill building. Clearly, it’s more than just a place to savor delicious brick oven pizzas.
While specific seasonal menu offerings vary occasionally, Ramunto’s typically features their standard mouthwatering selection of items. At the heart of their menu are, of course, their signature brick oven pizzas. Expect a variety of classic and inventive pizzas, from a traditional Margherita to specialty pizzas, like the popular “Ski Tow”, bursting with toppings like chicken, bacon, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and other fresh ingredients. (Cue the drooling.)
Beyond pizzas, Ramunto’s menu often includes a range of appetizers like their famous garlic knots, wings, buffalo chicken dip, as well as spinach and artichoke dip. The main courses extend to excellent pasta dishes, filling calzones, large salads, and perfectly crafted sandwiches, showcasing a balance of Italian flavors and American classics. To complement the savory delights, beverage options include a selection of rotating beers, wines, and non-alcoholic choices.
But let’s talk about Ramunto’s impressive pizza line operation for a minute too. Every step of the pizza-making process is visible for the restaurant to see, as the pizza station is open floor with half walls for separation between dining and pizza crafting. From first stretching and flipping the dough high into the air, to then meticulously swirling the marinara sauce across the base, and finally to cheesing and filling it up with all the perfectly placed ingredients, the process is incredible to see.
Were you able to attend the very first Sugar River Social at Ramunto’s? If not, mark your calendar, because in the coming months we are planning everything from secret popup dinners with a show to DIY crafting nights; from group hikes to wine and cheese tastings! Next month’s Sugar River Social will be different and so much fun – here’s a few hints: snow, skis, Eastman, and Forbes. Join us on Saturday, February 24th (stay tuned for details to come on our Instagram and Facebook) for the next Sugar River Social. Come have some fun in the snow and maybe learn a thing or two.
Did you like this sponsor highlight article? Are you a venue or activity business that can host groups and would like to host a Sugar River Social? Reach out to Maddie at firstname.lastname@example.org to ask about how to become a sponsor and get your business featured.