Via Vecchia on Dana Street

Blyth & Burrows owner Joshua Miranda has announced the concept for his new restaurant in the Old Port, Via Vecchia (instagram, facebook, website).

Located at 10 Dana Street in the 3,900 sq ft space formerly occupied by Vignola/Cinque Terre, Via Vecchia will be a “modern take on a European bistro serving small plates Italian food, classic cocktails, and Italian wines” with a focus on the bar and cocktail program.

For the design of Via Vecchia, Miranda and his team are “drawing inspiration from pre-WWI European bistros” with the aim of making it “feel both elegant and comfortable” The front room (see floor plan below) will have a long curved marble bar. In back restaurant area, “guests will eat in a greenery-filled space under skylights, akin to a courtyard in Venice or Rome.”

Principle members of the staff will be Randa Vashon as general manager, Chris Peterman as sommelier, and chef Mitchell Ryan. Ryan was the previously the executive chef at Vignola / Cinque Terre.

Here’s a look at the draft menu supplied with the liquor license application to the City:

Here’s a look at the floor plan. The front room (formerly occupied by Vignola) has a long curved bar with with some large format booths and a few tables looking out onto the cobble stoned streets outside. The back restaurant area maintains the layout formerly used at Cinque Terre.

Maria’s Opens Saturday

Maria’s has announced they are opening their new restaurant at 1335 Congress Street this Saturday at 5 pm. They shared that they “highly encourage reservations for this night but we will hold a limited amount of tables for walk ins.”

As you’ll recall, Maria’s sold their longtime home on Cumberland Ave and taken over the former Esposito’s restaurant space on outer Congress Street.

The former Maria’s at 337 Cumberland is under development to become 207 Bar & Restaurant.

George’s North Shore

A new food truck call George’s North Shore (instagram, facebook) is now under development. Owners Logan and Alison Abbey relocated from Massachusetts several years ago and the North Shore roast beef sandwich is a taste of home they’d like to introduce in Portland.

The feature item on the menu will be a Super Beef Threeway: a grilled buttered bun, thin-sliced rare roast beef, topped with white American cheese, mayo and James River BBQ sauce.

The food truck will launch this coming spring, and the Abbeys plan to do some pop-up events in the meantime. George’s is named for their dog, George Castanza.

Bar Madness Cocktail Competition

The Old Port Sea Grill is organizing Bar Madness—a cocktail competition among Maine bartenders. The bartender with the top cocktail wins an “all-expense paid trip for 2 to Chicago to experience a 7-Course Tasting Experience with cocktail pairings in the kitchen of The Aviary.”

For more details on how to compete or follow along with the fun visit the Bar Madness website or instagram account.

This Week’s Events: Oxbowzakaya, Cocktail for a Cause

Tuesday – The 8th Annual Oxbowzakaya is taking place at Pai Men Miyake.

Wednesday – Evo is hosting Cocktail for a Cause as a benefit for the Animal Refuge League, and Luke’s is marking the opening of scallop season with a special “meet the fleet” scallop tasting event.

Thursday – Authors Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz will be speaking at the Jewish Community Alliance about their book The New Portland, Maine Chef’s Table.

Saturday – the Winter Farmers’ Market is taking place.

For more information on these and other upcoming food happenings in the area, visit the event calendar.

If you are holding a food event this week that’s not listed above, publicize it by adding it as a comment to this post.

Review of Vena’s

The Press Herald has reviewed Vena’s Fizz House.

Eventually, I pried my friend’s drink out of her hands and took a sip, at which point all I could think was “liquid Christmas!” It somehow managed to combine all the flavors in exactly the right amounts, resulting in being able to taste, first, one element, then another, then another, never forgetting that Santa had just delivered you a stocking full of tequila.

Jef Wright: New Chef at Sur Lie

Sur Lie has hired Jef Wright as the restaurant’s new executive chef.

Wright is a Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Academy graduate. In 2019 he’s been the sous chef as part of the team assembled by Christian Hayes to launch The Garrison. Wright is originally from Florida and for several years he worked in Atlanta with chef Richard Blais, “focused on molecular gastronomy as a means to reimagine and refine traditional southern dishes.” Wright has also worked for a 2 Michelin star restaurant in New York, and worked in the Philadelphia.

According to the release,

His style is best described as heavily influenced by traditional French and Spanish cuisine with a love for upscale Southern always focusing on refined techniques…Jef is thrilled to be stepping back into the role of Executive Chef and leading the kitchen at Sur Lie. He looks forward to sharing his excitement and passion for delicious, sophisticated cuisine with Portland.

Wright will be taking over the position held by Emil Rivera since Sur Lie opened in 2014. You’ll recall word spread that Rivera was moving to a new roll back in October. The long notice has enable Rivera to be involved with the recruitment and interviewing of his replacement in conjunction with Sur Lie owners Tony and Krista Cole.

Wright takes over starting December 21st and the restaurant has indicated, “Sur Lie fans can expect to see his imprint on the menu becoming more clear as the new year progresses.”

Nielsen Joins Magnus on Water

Magnus on Water (websitefacebookinstagramtwitter) has announced they’ve hired chef Ryan Nielsen.

Nielsen has spent the last year working for chef Bowman Brown at Elda and prior to that was the executive sous chef at Armsby Abbey in Worcester, Mass.

Nielsen shared that he finds inspiration in Latin American cuisine but that we should also expect to see notes of Nordic and Japanese/Asian influences on the Magnus menu as well.

Magnus on Water is in the final stages of construction and is expected to open early next year.

Maine Street Steak & Oyster

The owners of Yobo, Kim Lully and chef Sunny Chung, are working with Sarah Gabrielson and chef Tony Pastor to launch Maine Street Steak & Oyster (instagram).

The 38-seat restaurant will be located at 148 Main Street in Brunswick, and will serve “local steaks and a first class raw bar featuring Maine oysters and seafood” and is expected to open sometime in early January.