Nestled amid the cobblestone streets and independent shops of the Old Port District, 15 Exchange Grille sizzles with an ever-transforming menu of Mediterranean-inspired comfort fare. Each week, chefs whip up sandwiches, pastas, and Mediterranean comfort specialties from the freshest ingredients and market-catch seafood available. Bartenders pair the Levantine comfort food with beer and cocktails from the full bar. Tabletops checker the dining room, backdropped by exposed-brick walls and the enormous portrait of French actress Bridget Bardot staring down from her frame, goading diners into staring contests.
Located in the historic Old Port District, Arabica Coffee percolates the palates of thirsty patrons as they reenergize amid pleasantly low-key confines. The menu is stocked with soothing bean blends and reads like a global tasting excursion, boasting freshly brewed coffees of the day ($1.40–$1.87) such as an organic Peruvian blend, a French Roast, and a decaffeinated java imported from Ethiopia. Specialty coffee drinks take international flavors one intergalactic step further with a caffé milky way ($3.50–$5.25)–a rich combination of chocolate, caramel, steamed milk, and espresso that evokes the flavors of dark matter. Other items include the earthy caffé maple soy ($3.75–$5.75), made with espresso, soymilk, and maple syrup. The menu is subject to change and features new energizing concoctions daily, but there's always a selection of regular and gourmet coffee drinks, brew-at-home coffee sold by the pound, and juice drinks. Additionally, Arabica's signature toast serves as a tasty treat that’s also useable as a Post-it note for informing roommates that the basement is flooding.
Some might say that The Gelato Fiasco is the most delicious type of fiasco there is. Joshua Davis and Bruno Tropeano would certainly agree. They began their mission to perfect Italy's favorite frozen treat in 2007. Nearly six years, two locations, and more than 1,000 flavors later, their signature gelato frequently earns plaudits from gourmands at MSNBC, Fortune, CNN/Money, and Every Day with Rachael Ray. Their new Old Port store also earned praise from taste testers on the ground, winning awards such as Best Ice Cream in Maine in Down East magazine's 2013 Reader's Choice Awards and Food Network Magazine's "50 States, 50 Ice cream Treats" accolade.
Each day, the team's trained ice cream makers whip up more than 30 flavors of gelato and sorbetto, ranging from mango and brownie batter to Maine wild blueberry crisp, espresso chip, and dark chocolate caramel sea salt. The Gelato Fiasco’s artisanal methods produce treats using only milk from Maine farms, natural cane sugar, and heaping scoops of fresh fruits, roasted nuts, and high-quality candies and confections. They also craft dairy-free sorbettos in flavors including balsamic-strawberry and chocolate noir. Gelato and sorbetto alike arrives in dishes, housemade waffle cones, or full pints to go; customers are also encouraged to mix flavors to create customized treats. Seasonal favorites are offered such as Pumpkin Pie Gelato and Fall in Bourbon County Gelato, created with Wild Turkey bourbon mixed with cinnamon-glazed peanuts and pecans. They also provide warm beverages during the fall season including God of Thunder, an exclusive house roast.
At Roost House of Juice, very little goes to waste—even the pulp from their juices is compressed in a dehydrator to make raw falafel. The delicious results are in line with the café's philosophy of sustainable, vegan, and gluten-free eats. The juices themselves range from crisp blends of cucumber, apple, celery, and mint to the Red Russian, a re-imagined cocktail with Russian kale, cranberry, lemon, and ginger booch. The menu also lists enticing smoothies such as the Coconut Butter Cup, which derives its sweetness from Brazil nut milk ice cubes, dates, vanilla, and coconut and cacao butter.
Most of the produce handled here comes from local farms. Other dishes, including the housemade granola, are signature creations. And, in the interest of sustainably grown foods and wholesome lifestyles, the staff merges their beliefs with their service. They award discounts to customers who arrive on bikes or public transit, as well as those who bring reusable containers for their orders. Their Give a Hoot Juice campaign also donates part of their profits to likeminded organizations.
Gelato connoisseurs Mariagrazia Zanardi and Donato Giovine moved from their native Milan to settle in Portland, attracted by the area's friendly neighborhoods, beautiful scenery, and wide-open market for freshly made Italian desserts. In the parlor of their dessert shop, a sunny-yellow and soothing-violet color scheme surrounds an appetizing display of cannoli, cakes, and frozen delicacies, while the couple works hard in the kitchen to create smooth, dense batches of gelato with time-honored recipes and methods. Each satiny spoonful of their gelato blends New England flavor with exotic European influences, with imported Italian hazelnuts and pistachios mixing with locally sourced whole milks and creams. The team welcomes guests to gather in the shop and enjoy cups and sandwiches of the icy treat, and they pour fresh espresso and cappuccino to complement the experience. Gorgeous Gelato even maintains a handcrafted ice-cream cart, its friendly old-school charm making it ideal for catering office functions, weddings, birthday parties, or the opening of another gelato shop.
Forest Falls Cafe prides itself on using fresh, local ingredients in its made-from-scratch dishes. Its bread is purchased nearby and makes up an array of sandwiches, filled with everything from Maine lobster to teriyaki chicken. Chefs tuck sliced apples into individual-sized pie crusts while homemade soups simmer and turkey roasts in the kitchen. The caf? also serves breakfast all day, including dishes such as eggs benedict smothered in hollandaise sauce, veggie scrambles wrapped in tortillas, and pancakes filled with local blueberries.