Every month in Eat Maine the staffers at Maine. magazine will share our knowledge, as well as information garnered from our readers and Eat Maine fans, about the many must-go places to eat in the state. This month we’re turning to Portland and a selection of restaurants serving a specially priced three-course meal for Restaurant Week, March 1–10. For a full listing of all participating restaurants around the state go to mainerestaurantweek.com
EAT MAINE – March 2010
By Joe Ricchio
You can walk from one end of Portland to the other in a couple hours. But why would you want to? There are just too many good places to stop and eat.
(1) Back Bay Grill
Boasting Portland’s most fanatical group of regulars, and most random location, Back Bay Grill has been a fine dining staple for years. It’s also got a very comfortable bar where you can gorge on truffle popcorn while you peruse the extensive wine list.
65 Portland St. | 207.772.8833 | backbaygrill.com
(2) Bar Lola
An ever-changing array of small plates keeps things interesting at this cozy East End eatery. It’s also nice to see a restaurant that isn’t afraid to work with all boutique wines, instead of the usual mass-produced wine that “everyone knows.”
100 Congress St. | 207.775.5652 | barlola.net
(3) Blue Spoon
It was here long ago that I ordered the “Munjoy Hill Mimosa,” which prompted my love affair with the combination of PBR and orange juice. The burger is one of Portland’s best, according to the locals.
89 Congress St. | 207.773.1116
This pizzeria features wood-fired pie in a size that’s perfect for not sharing with others. I think I can honestly say that this is by far my favorite restaurant named after a monkey.
200 Brackett St. | 207.347.8267 | bonobopizza.com
What I would describe as “perfect” desserts round out a brilliant menu prepared by chef Krista Desjarlais. If you don’t love Bresca, then I’m not sure we could be friends.
111 Middle St. | 207.772.1004 | restaurantbresca.com
(6) Cinque Terre
Northern Italian cuisine with an emphasis on local products—I would call it a “farm-to-table-to-my-mouth-straight-to-my-thighs” approach. Don’t miss “truffle month,” when they feature fresh white truffles on several menu items.
36 Wharf St. | 207.347.6154 | cinqueterremaine.com
(7) David’s Restaurant
Chef David Turin puts a creative spin on old favorites, such as mushroom-dusted haddock with mussels. It’s also a great place to drink away your frustration when they’ve taken away your library card across the street.
22 Monument Square | 207.773.4340 | davidsrestaurant.com
My best advice before visiting this temple of gluttony would be to allocate time for a nap shortly after. Who says you can’t have French fries and beer for lunch?
43 Middle St. | 207.774.8080 | duckfat.com
(9) Five Fifty-Five
Five Fifty-Five is five times more fun than the last five restaurants you’ve dined at in the past five months. It’s a great place to have five martinis with five olives each and then meet five friends for dinner.
555 Congress St. | 207.761.0555 | fivefifty-five.com
(10) Green Elephant
A “vegetarian bistro” that’s a perfect spot for when you get stuck hanging out with vegetarians. I always enjoy my experience here; I would recommend sticking to the veggies and skipping the fake meat options.
608 Congress St. | 207.347.3111 | greenelephantmaine.com
(11) Grill Room
A good steak is inexplicably hard to come by in this town, so it’s a good thing that we have the Grill Room. A wine list with prices barely above retail makes it easy to feel good about drinking a lot any night of the week.
84 Exchange St. | 207.774.2333 | thefrontroomrestaurant.com
Hugo’s features what I would consider to be
the best bar snacks in town. A glass of Santenay to wash down an order of veal sweetbread McNuggets is the perfect start to any evening.
88 Middle St. | 207.774.8538 | hugos.net
The newest addition to the Old Port dining scene features a gorgeous bar serving simple and delicious Latin food. The “dream team” of bartenders will keep you coming back for more.
83 Exchange St. | 207.761.7909 | local188.com
Ribollita has been flying under the radar for years as one of the best values for Italian food in town. It’s small and intimate, so if you plan on being loud and causing a scene I would suggest going elsewhere.
41 Middle St. | 207.774.2972 | ribollitamaine.com
(15) The Salt Exchange
Dinner focuses on creatively prepared small plates. I like to focus on one big plate of BBQ duck sliders for lunch.
245 Commercial St. | 207.347.5687 | thesaltexchange.net