Heather and Gary Labbe unveil a passage to bygone eras with the ornately decorated Clipper Merchant Tea House, "a destination that is simply unforgettable," according to Tea Time Magazine. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the home-turned-luncheonette holds up to 40 guests in rooms that, despite brandishing the same elegant woodwork and birth certificates, take on different identities through an assortment of statues, vases, paintings, and knickknacks. Inside the Colonial-themed Hawthorne room, diners toast with more than 80 different teas that swirl around inside each of their cups. Toward the back of the house, the China Room plays host to a couple who can scale the Tower of London's three tiers of tea sandwiches, warm scones, and petite desserts. Antique china, silver, and linens—all of which Heather inherited from her aunt—help whisk visitors further into the depths of grandeur.
What began as a familial distaste for plain, traditional birthday cakes has blossomed into Dirt On A Cake, a family-run ice-cream-cake emporium specializing in uniquely flavored sweets. The confectionary's signature dipped dirt cakes submerge ice-cream cupcakes—like high-school principal dunkings in Candyland—in a layer of rich milk chocolate. Party-sized ice-cream cakes sate 15–20 appetites, and personal-sized ice-cream cupcakes provide solo treats to on-the-go desserters. Dozens of specialty flavors include blueberry ginger, stout, and peppermint mocha.
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.
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.
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.
After a decade-long career working in the fashion industry in Boston and New York, the owner of East End Cupcakes decided to return to her roots. A Maine native, she grew up baking with her grandmother and has many fond memories of creating tasty treats to share with family and friends. So with these memories as her inspiration, she returned home to open up her own cupcake shop and offer customers the nostalgic sweets of their childhoods.
Inside the shop, multi-tiered platters display cupcakes in dozens of flavors, such as banana nutella, chocolate with salted-caramel frosting, and vanilla, baked with local eggs, butter, and milk. Customers can also taste less common treat flavors including bacon or pear cupcakes and avocado frosting. Most cupcakes are crowned with a squeeze of italian buttercream—a type of frosting with a lighter, less sweet flavor than american buttercream—but the staff will also top the cakes with cream-cheese frosting, whipped cream, or a tiny edible bowler hat.