Bonos Pizzeria Grille puts its own gourmet spin on Italian culinary tradition. In an open kitchen, executive chef Anthony Guerriero and his team use local ingredients to craft specialties such as slow-braised short ribs with pappardelle, fingerling potatoes, and peas, and juicy burgers crowned with Boursin cheese and wine-poached pears. They also layer pizzas with specialty toppings such as fig jam and hand-picked lobster before firing the pies over flaming Maine hardwoods. A children’s menu offers kid-friendly options like peanut butter and jelly pizza.
Woks have sizzled in the kitchen of Chia Sen Chinese Restaurant ever since 1998, when the Wu family—originally from Taiwan—first opened the restaurant. In the woks, they prepare Taiwanese specialties such as pineapple shrimp fried in egg starch, and Chinese favorites such as general tso's chicken or sizzling peppercorn beef. Each dish is made to order, and is flavored with fragrant spices rather than MSG. Gluten-free and vegetarian menus are available. Pair your meal with one of the spot's specialty cocktails.
Instead of heading out to play after school as a kid, Ron Stephan spent afternoons in his mother's kitchen, rolling chicken cordon bleu for the catering business she ran from their home. Today, Ron continues his family tradition of freshness at his own restaurant, Ricetta's, where every dish is made from scratch daily. "I guarantee you my freezer is smaller than your freezer at home," Ron says with a laugh, "unless you have a really small freezer."
The restaurant’s accolades speak for themselves. Since it opened in 1989, Ricetta's has won the Maine Sunday Telegram's readers' poll for best pizza a whopping 20 years in a row, as well as earning a spot on USA Today's 51 great pizza parlors in 2010. At its current location, which it has occupied since 2000, two hand-built brick ovens fire up each pizza, giving the crust a crisp outside and a soft, pillowy center.
Though the food is crafted with care, the lifeblood of Ricetta's, according to Ron, is its employees, many of whom have been with him for over 10 years. They have helped create all of the menu's dishes, including the Bolto pizza, loaded with pesto, roasted chicken, and broccoli, and named after the manager who would make it for himself for lunch every day. Ricetta's first employee, Skip, lends his name to the popular linguini Scipollo, which he fashioned from chicken, sometimes shrimp, with prosciutto and tomatoes in lemon-cream sauce. To show his gratitude, Ron celebrates each staff member's anniversary by printing a mention in the newsletter and cooking them a pizza with monogrammed pepperoni slices.
After bringing their family across the pond from Milano to Maine, restaurateurs Fabiana de Savino and Enrico Barbiero wasted no time in opening Paciarino. There, pasta made daily by Barbiero "raises the bar for pasta," according to the New York Times. “His tender ravioli are stuffed with sweet local shrimp and haddock, and his spaghetti is hand-stretched and perfectly cooked,” the reporter continued. The chef draws from a palette of imported Taggiasche olives, garlic from Sicily, and peppers, mozzarella, and salamis from around Italy. When possible, the produce is sourced from organic farms, and the selection of seafood, like a neighbor’s level of anger at your Halloween display, depends on the season.
Paciarino's airy interior keeps the mood light and focused on the cuisine, which is complemented by red and white wine. “You can hear a surprising amount of Italian language among the diners,” said a writer for The Boston Globe after a visit, “ and everyone seems a little more cheerful than they did when they walked in."
Chefs and mixologists at Plush West End pair a diverse assortment of ever-changing small plates with fine wines and specialty drinks. Like a hug from a princess, the atmosphere feels both elegant and welcoming, and the Portland Press Herald’s Elisa Doucette remarked that the "cushioned leather couches in the lounge area and deep-red walls create a dark, seductive setting that compels you to stay for hours." The restaurant shows its commitment to Maine-based merchants in a variety of ways such as the Angus beef sliders topped with locally sourced cheddar. Cocktail connoisseurs mix signature specialty drinks at the bar’s glass chilling station illuminated by fiery red under-lighting, and a VIP section calls to diners seeking privacy for a special proposal or a rendezvous with international spies.
By morning, it's a breakfast hub known as The Good Egg Café. During lunch and dinner, the festively colored space, draped in twinkling string lights, turns into Pepperclub Restaurant. Entering the eatery is like stepping into a crayon box; the walls are painted in a lively palette of oranges, purples, blues and reds. Though the globally inspired menu draws on local seafood, beef, and lamb for Indian curries and Greek recipes, vegan and vegetarian dishes such as baked and stuffed jalapeños, veggie burgers, and asiago risotto cakes with portobello are also plentiful. After finishing off complimentary homemade bread, patrons ease sugar cravings with a handmade chocolate cake, or ease sunburns by applying cool vegan tapioca directly onto the sun.