Solo Bakery in Bath

Solo Italiano is planning to launch a new bakery in Bath, Maine called Solo Pane e Pasticceria. It will be located at 29 Centre Street in the space formerly occupied by the Centre Street Bakery.

The new business will be both a retail bakery and the location of Solo’s wholesale baking operation. The bakery is expected to be operational in April and Solo hopes to launch the retail shop by the end of May. They expect to have breads and baked goods that run the full spectrum of what a “true Italian Pasticceria” can deliver.

Solo is looking forward to being part of the Mid-Coast food community, and bringing a new local bakery to the town of Bath.

The Solo Italiano restaurant opened on Commercial Street in Portland in 2016, and the Solo Cucina Market launched in South Portland in March 2020.

Rose Foods Sandwich Series

Rose Foods has announced the schedule for their annual guest chef sandwich series. Each Friday through Sunday, a specialty bagel sandwich designed by that week’s guest chef will be featured on the menu. Here’s the schedule:

Interview with Krista Kern Desjarlais

Slice, Spade, Soiree has published an interview with Krista Kern Desjarlais.

I was hired to be the opening chef for Guy Savoy at his new restaurant opening in Caesars Palace, so I went to Paris for additional training for this new opportunity. When I returned to Las Vegas from Paris, I learned that the restaurant was delayed. I was reminded of a conversation I had in Paris with the Chef de Cuisine for Guy Savoy. Like me, he was older than everyone in the kitchen there, and commented that, at my age, I should be running my own restaurant! It was another turning point. I returned to Maine and opened Bresca in early 2007.

Della Terra Pizza in Saco

A new New York-style pizzeria called Della Terra Pizza (instagram) opened on Wednesday in Saco.

Owner Micah Robinson has put together a menu that includes 16-inch round pizzas (margheritas, white pizzas, etc), 16-inch square pizzas (Sicilians, L&B, etc), a caesar salad and pizza by the slice. There are gluten-free options. The menu will expand to include specialty pies, more salad options, a calzone, and a stromboli roll in the coming days. The menu is available for pre-order.

Della Terra is located at 213 North Street in Saco. They will be open Wednesday through Sunday, 11 am – 9 pm.

Chase Rochon, Certified Pommelier

Congratulation to Chase Rochon who has successfully passed his examinations and sensory testing to become a Certified Pommelier.

The CP professional certification has been established by the American Cider Association to provide hospitality professionals a way to develop and demonstrate their knowledge of cider. The first level in the ACA certification program is becoming a Certified Cider Professional.

Rochon is one of only 26 Certified Pommeliers in the country and the first person in Maine to earn that distinction.

Rochon is a co-owner of Craft Curbside in Gray which stocks a wide range of ciders.

2022 Beard Awards Nominees

The James Beard Foundation has announced the nominees for this year’s Beard Awards. 10 semifinalists were from Maine this year, of those 5 are nominees and contenders for an award when the winners are announced in June:

  • Best New Restaurant – Leeward
  • Outstanding Baker – Atsuko Fujimoto, Norimoto Bakery
  • Best Chef: Northeast – Vien Dobui, Công Tử Bột; Courtney Loreg, Woodford Food & Beverage; Damian Sansonetti, Chaval

The award winners will be announced on Monday June 13th at an event taking place in Chicago.

Related information:

Spring Awakening

This Week’s Portland Phoenix includes an article entitled Spring awakening: Portland restaurants, bars counting on a return to normal.

Throughout the pandemic, Portland’s bars and restaurants were challenged at every front. From closures that lasted several months to jockeying for federal assistance and learning how to be nimble and change plans on the fly, owners found ways to pivot and get by. Now, with spring around the corner and the number of new COVID-19 cases continuing to drop, there is a sense of optimism in the industry.  

My Kitchen Their Table: Tina Cromwell

Welcome to the March 2022 edition of My Kitchen, Their Table, an interview series with the chefs and culinary professionals who work hard to satisfy our small city’s big appetite. This month we’re featuring an interview with Tina Cromwell from Bam Bam Bakery. Photos and videos will continue to expand on the story throughout the rest of the month on instagram, so stay tuned.

Flour. Butter. Eggs. These are staples in baking as much as wood, stone, and metal are in construction. But, one Portland baker has proved these ingredients aren’t essential. With “chemistry, a little bit of magic, and a lot of trial and error,” Tina Cromwell’s gluten-free, vegan chocolate cake is just as delicious as one laden with flour, butter, and eggs.

Tina and her husband, Lance, own and operate Bam Bam Bakery, the city’s first exclusively gluten-free bakery. Founded in 2011, The Cromwells purchased the business in 2017. And, while they kept most recipes unchanged, they adjusted some to accommodate more dietary restrictions. Others, like the bagels, are new creations.

As someone who has struggled with gluten sensitivity since childhood, Tina can attest to how difficult it can be to find a tasty substitute. “When gluten-free alternatives first came out, most of it wasn’t very good, and some people are still skeptical. But our stuff is really good. You can’t even tell the difference,” she asserts.

Before taking over Bam Bam, Tina studied hotel and restaurant administration at the University of New Hampshire and worked in San Francisco and Napa Valley under prominent chefs like Wolfgang Puck. She returned to Maine just as the state’s food scene was gaining traction. She served at Primo for three seasons and has held nearly every position at Fore Street on and off for fourteen years.

Last summer, Bam Bam relocated to the former Cakes Extraordinaire space on Brighton Avenue. The bakery is open Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 3 pm. In addition to cookies, cakes, and other confections, Bam Bam also has savory items like chicken pot pie and lasagna. Continue reading to learn how many alternative flours and starches Tina uses, her favorite Bam Bam treat, and where she goes for a gluten-free meal in Portland and beyond.


AA: Did you create all the recipes at Bam Bam?
TC: Not all of them. I bought the recipes but tweaked quite a few, like the chocolate cake is now vegan. The egg replacer makes it fudgier, so no one complains. We also came up with a ridiculous bagel recipe. Our bagels are so good, and they’re gluten, dairy, soy, and nut-free.

AA: What ingredients do you use to replace gluten?
TC: We have fifteen different flours and starches that we use in different combinations depending on what we try to achieve. We use a variety of flours like garbanzo, sorghum, millet, and rice. For binders, we use xanthan gum and psyllium. It’s the most bizarre baking I’ve ever done in my life. It’s chemistry, a little bit of magic, and a lot of trial and error.

AA: Do you accommodate any other dietary restrictions?
TC: Yes, we are a go-to for people with food allergies because so many people with celiac disease are also lactose intolerant or have an egg allergy. It’s difficult to find baked goods that don’t have cream, butter, or eggs. We try to make as many items as possible with vegan butter or plant-based milk.

AA: What is your favorite item at Bam Bam?
TC: My favorite is the caramel delight bar with a brownie base, dried cherries, pecans, peanuts, chocolate chunks, caramel, and sea salt. It’s sweet, salty, crunchy, nutty, and chocolatey.

AA: What are your customer favorites?
TC: We make a chicken pot pie that is ridiculously delicious. The secret to making the pie crust is eggs, which isn’t traditional. We have avid fans for that one. Our cinnamon roll is also a customer favorite. The process is so different than what you’d expect. The dough is goopy and has to be put between plastic wrap to roll it out.

AA: What are your favorite restaurants in Portland?
TC: Going out to eat for me starts with asking, “Can I eat anything here, and do I trust them?.” Even if the menu says gluten-free, there’s the risk of cross-contamination. If they have a dedicated fryer, I’m there.

AA: Do you know of any restaurants with dedicated fryers?
TC: Sinful Kitchen is one. The owner, Dave Mallari, has celiac disease. It’s my go-to breakfast spot on the weekend. I get the gluten-free waffle benedict. Another one is Saltwater Grille in South Portland. They have outdoor dining and a view of the Portland waterfront. It’s beautiful. I had fried scallops for the first time in probably fifteen years, and I think we’ve been back three times since. $3 Deweys on Commercial Street also has a gluten-free fryer and vegan options like a jackfruit barbecue sandwich.

AA: Have you discovered any new gluten-free spots?
TC: I recently tried Sticky Sweet. Two sisters own it. They make plant-based ice cream and have all of these crazy flavors, like maple coffee and key lime pie. It was the first time I had a waffle cone in a long time.

AA: Where have you had a particularly memorable meal?
TC: I have to go with Primo. It is hands down my favorite restaurant. A good portion of the menu is already gluten-free or has a gluten-free substitute. The salads are so good because she has her own garden. The last time I went, I had the whole-roasted Branzino, fried zucchini blossoms, and cornmeal cake with fruit and housemade ice cream.

AA: What other restaurants outside of Portland do you recommend?
TC: There’s a restaurant in Ogunquit called BeachFire with lots of gluten-free options. I had their peanut butter and jelly burger. It was really good. MK Kitchen in Gorham has more upscale gluten-free options. We recently ordered takeout. I had the risotto and fried brussels sprouts.

AA: One last thing. What is the BamBamBulance, and when can we expect its debut?
TC: The BamBamBulance is basically a generator on wheels. It’s not a traditional food truck because we don’t need propane or cooking abilities. It’s more like a mobile retail space. We also plan on using it for events, like mobile cupcake parties. We’re in the process of applying for the permit and hoping to launch this summer.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

Previous editions of My Kitchen Their Table have featured Courtney Loreg, Chad Conley  Atsuko Fujimoto, Matt Ginn, Jordan Rubin, Cara Stadler, Thomas Takashi Cooke, Ilma Lopez, Bowman Brown, Brian Catapang, Kelly Nelson, Lee Farrington & Bryna Gootkind, and Jake and Raquel Stevens.

The My Kitchen Their Table series is brought to life through the talent and hard work of food writer Angela Andre, and the generous sponsorship by Evergreen Credit Union and The Boulos Company.

Cabana at 111 Middle Street

A new Latin American restaurant called Cabana (instagram) is under construction at 111 Middle Street in the space formerly occupied by Piccolo.

Lunch at Cabana will be available for takeout or dine-in service. Dinner service at Cabana will feature a shareable tapas menu, cocktails and  Afro/Samba/Latin music until midnight. The menu will draw inspiration from all over Latin America with a special emphasis on the flavors of Dominican cuisine.

Owner  René Emilio Peña—who also operates La Bodega Latina on Congress Street—hopes to open Cabana by early summer. He moved to Portland 10 years ago from Miami where he worked in the fashion industry. His vision for Cabana is to meld his passions for fashion, music, art and food into a fully immersive experience that makes use of the small space as part of its personality.

Eat It & Beet It Launching March 31st

The first new food truck of the spring, Eat It & Beet It (instagram), will be launching on March 31st at Goodfire Brewing in East Bayside.

Founder Lea Andrukaitis Verrill plans to serve a menu of beef and house-made beet burgers. All of the sandwiches on the menu will also be available in a gluten-free version, and all of the sides will be gluten-free.

Here’s a look at the starting menu for Eat It & Beet It. All the burgers come with the choice of quarter pound 100% beef burgers or vegetarian beet burgers.