Jefe Juan’s on Wharf Street

Portland Mash Tun owner Ricky Binet has leased 1160 sq ft of space at 47 Wharf Street where he plans to open a 24-seat Mexican restaurant called Jefe Juan’s. The restaurant is named after Portland Mash Tun chef Juan Cordero and will serve a menu of “a few of Juan’s favorite recipes”.

As part of the liquor license application Binet has provided a draft menu (page 104) that includes burritos (pork, beef or chicken), a cheese plate, chips and salsa, salads, a lobster roll, and a “Mexican Lobster Cocktail”.

Italian Restaurants in Flux

This seems to be the year when the landscape of Italian restaurants seem to be in flux. For those of you trying to keep track, here’s what’s happened so far:

There are still 3 months left in the year so who knows what other news may emerge.

JP’s Bistro Moving to Falmouth

The Press Herald reports that JP’s Bistro is moving to Falmouth.

Chef/owner John Paul Gagnon says he’ll be closing his namesake Portland restaurant on Oct. 12 and hopes to re-open the first week of November at 204 U.S. Route 1 in Falmouth. That’s the former location of Hugs Italian Restaurant. (The Hugs restaurant at Sugarloaf remains open.) Gagnon says the new space will have more room, more and better equipment, and — he hopes — more customers. 

9-Seat Ramen Bar Coming to Washington Ave

A new 9-seat BYOB ramen shop is under development. Named Ishi Ishi Ramen (instagram) it will be located on Washington Ave in The Black Box space that will be vacated when The Cheese Shop moves to larger quarter—filling the gap in the East End line-up of restaurant left when Ramen Suzukiya closed in 2018.

Owners Matthew De Fio and Andrew Doolittle hope to open in November/December when they will serve three different ramens to start with, and offer both gluten-free noodle and CBD options on the menu. Ishi Ishi will also have prepared ramen ready to go. The owners are planning for the shop to be a cellphone-free zone.

De Fio spent 3 years working at Ramen Tatsu-ya in Austin Texas and has worked in Maine at Enoteca Athena and Vessel and Vine in Brunswick and running his own fresh pasta enterprise Il Dono. Doolittle is the owner of Pot and Pan Kitchen.

Osteria Radici Moving to Portland

New Jersey Monthly reports that Randy and Ally Forrester are moving their restaurant, Osteria Radici (website, facebook, instagram), from Allentown to Portland, Maine. The 24-seat Osteria Radici has been a James Beard semifinalist for Best Chef in the Midatlantic both years they’ve been in business and on the New Jersey Monthly list of the 30 best restaurants in the state.

The Forresters shared that they’ve found “lot to love about Portland” but  what they “look forward to most is getting to engage with guests who are excited to eat” and always eager to learn more. They were taken by the “energy we saw there, every time we ate whether it was Cong Tu Bot, Central provisions, Fore Street, Lio or places like Maine and Loire and Maiz”. Growing their business in that environment is the reason they decided to move their lives and their business to Portland.

Chef Forrester  is focused on “hyper-regional Italian food from the north to the south” to “highlight these regions in a more modern light” that lets Radici “showcase what Italian food is right now, not generations ago.” With Osteria Radici in Portland the couple wants to deliver thoughtful food and drink in an approachable comfortable environment.

The Forresters are currently looking for the right location and hope to open to their new Portland restaurant this coming spring.

Mast Landing Expands in Westbrook

Mast Landing (websitefacebookinstagram) has expanded with a new 20,000 square foot facility located on Saco Street in Westbrook that has begun production this month. The new brewery will more than double their production capacity from 4,500 to 11,000 barrels of beer.

…outfitted with a 30bbl brewhouse and a set of 13 fermentation vessels of varying sizes. Mast Landing’s new production-only location sits on Saco St. in Westbrook, just over a mile away from their HQ on Main Street. The brewery’s original location will continue to house their popular tasting room as well as specialized mixed fermentation and wild ale projects, while the bulk of the brewing and packaging heads down the street.

The new building won’t immediately be open to the public, “but down the road it could open up opportunities for tours, tastings, and other unique experiences.” In addition to the new building, Mast Landing also plans a renovation of the tasting room at their original location on Maine Street in Westbrook in the future.