Jake and Raquel Stevens, owners of Leeward (website, instagram) the Italian restaurant under construction on Free Street, have launched a Kickstarter campaign. The Stevens are looking to raise $12k to “help us purchase some of our opening inventory, and to address a few unexpected construction costs”.
The Stevens are hoping to open Leeward sometime in February.
As reported back in December, a Mexican/Salvadoran restaurant called Dos Naciones is under construction at 649 Congress Street in the former Local Sprouts space.
Dos Naciones owner Virginia Abarca has now applied for a liquor license and supplied a draft copy of their menu (page 41).
A new tavern serving lunch and dinner is under development at 51 Wharf Street by Tom Minervino, his sister Meg Minervino and their business partner Mike Barton.
The tentative name for the tavern is the Wharf Street Rathskeller. It will seat 44 including a 20-seat horseshoe bar.
The Minervinos and Barton also own and operate Legends Rest in Westbrook.
Flores (facebook), the Salvadoran restaurant located at 863 Congress Street, has leased the 1,800 sq ft former Mainely Wraps space at 431 Congress Street.
Owners of The Farm Stand in South Portland and Solo Italiano are collaborating to launch Solo Cucina and Market.
The new venture will takeover the space currently occupied by The Farm Stand and open sometime in February. The remade market will incorporate up to 10 seats and a small bar featuring bakery and espresso drinks. Solo Cucina will sell prepared food to go in addition to the meats and produce that The Farm Stand is known for.
The Farm Stand in its current form will close on January 15 to begin renovations.
For more reporting on the project read today’s article from The Forecaster.
Mr. Tuna is expanding into the space adjacent to their current food stall at the Public Market House. The renovations will add 10 more counter seats for their regular daily service, and in the future may serve as a bar for their occasional Night Market pop-up dinners as well as provide space for a Japanese shaved ice menu coming this summer.
Another year of great food and evolution of the Portland dining scene has gone by, and I’ve taken a moment to sort what took place and assembled this report on the notable events and trends of 2019:
- Most Notable Openings – 2017 still sets the high water mark for new restaurant opening but there was a solid cohort of new businesses that lauched in the past year. I would highlight the most notable openings in 2019 as: Christian Hayes’ new restaurant The Garrison in Yarmouth, Greg Mitchell’s new West End restaurant Flood’s, the launch of Gross Confection Bar (both restaurant and bakery) by Brant Dadaleares, the opening of the culinary knife shop Strata on Washington Ave, the re-emergence of Ten Ten Pié talent Atsuko Fujimoto leading her own business Norimoto Bakery, the vegan ice cream shop Sticky Sweet in Bayside, the opening of Basque cider bar and restaurant Anoche and the opening of Nura by the owners of Falafel Mafia. You can see a full list of opening in the calendar section of this report below.
- Italian is All the Rage – After several years of relative stability, the Italian restaurant landscape is undergoing some tectonic changes. Both Vignola/Cinque Terre and Espo’s closed, and JP’s Bistro moved to Falmouth. Maria’s moved from their longtime home on Cumberland Ave to the former Espo’s location on Congress Street. Rockland-based Ada’s Kitchen is soon to open a location in the Arts District. Jake and Raquel Stevens are in the process of launching a new Italian restaurant called Leeward on Free Street, and Joshua Miranda is launching Via Vecchia in the former Vignola/CT building on Dana Street. Beard Award semifinalists from New Jersey, Randy and Ally Forrester, are taking over 52 Washington Ave where they plan to open Radici Pizzeria, and the former Anjon’s location in Scarborough will be the home of a new Italian restaurant in 2020 called Amore on the Marsh.
- Cider and Apples – I may be a bit biased, but I think heirloom apples and cider came into their own in 2019. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Out on a Limb Apple CSA has raised the awareness and changed the appetites of us all. Apple buyers can now find heirloom varieties regularly on sale at Rosemont, the Co-op and other markets. Maine is now home to 3 cider bars (Perennial, The Cider House, Anoche)—the only New England state with even one—that are developing an appreciation for how excellent and diverse hard ciders are. The heirloom apple tasting that The Righteous Russet and Portland Food Map hold each year sold out in record time and we were invited to put on an encore presentation the following week at the Blaine House. The Cider Club, a small group of restaurant professionals, cider makers and enthusiasts, now meet regularly to taste ciders from Maine, New England and across the nation, and new Maine cider makers came on line in 2019 and I hope to see more in the coming years.
- Closings – several well-loved restaurants—Ten Ten Pié, Walter’s, Local Sprouts, Lolita, Brian Boru Andy’s Old Port Pub and Silly’s—all closed in 2019. There was a lot of concern about whether this the indication of a major shift in the industry or a sign of unwanted change in our city. The Press Herald even did a feature story that explored whether we were seeing a restaurant bubble about to burst. The short answer is we’re not but that didn’t lessen the sting for longtime customers of establishments that have been lost. At least in two cases fans have gotten a reprieve with the relaunch of Andy’s scheduled for January and the launch Norimoto Bakery by Ten Ten’s very talented former baker Atsuko Fujimoto. The Local Sprouts and Silly’s spaces have already been leased to restaurants that will open in 2020, and I expect that will also happen with the former Walter’s and Lolita locations.
- Upcoming in 2020 – There are a number of new businesses slated to open in 2020—the full list can be seen here PFM Under Construction list—that hopefully will be successful in building their own loyal following. The ones I’m most looking forward to are:
- Magnus on Water – a cocktail bar and restaurant in Biddeford.
- Leeward – an Italian restaurant on Free Street being launched by Jake and Raquel Stevens.
- Judy Gibson – a contemporary American restaurant from Chris Wilcox, a former chef de cuisine at Eventide.
- Radici Pizzeria – an Italian pizzeria by Randy and Ally Forrester who ran the Beard semifinalist Osteria Radici in New Jersey.
- Speckled Ax – a new 2nd location for Speckled Ax on Thames Street.
- Terlingua – Terlingua is taking over the former Silly’s building where they’ll have a larger restaurant, outdoor seating and market.
- Two Fat Cats – TFC is moving from their original location to a larger building in West Bayside.
- Via Vecchia – Joshua Miranda, the owner of Blyth & Burrows, is opening an Italian restaurant and bar in the former Vignola/Cinque Terre.
- Name TBA – Chad Conley and Josh Sobel’s new eatery on Washington Ave.
Top 10 Articles
The most popular articles published on Portland Food Map in the past year.
- The opening of Bird & Co in Woodfords Corner (March 12)
- The launch of Kuno, a food truck serving Malaysian Peranakan cuisine (February 16)
- First news about Other Side Diner (February 6)
- Report on new ownership of Congress Bar and Grill (August 30)
- The closing of Local Sprouts (July 3)
- News that the Minervinos were taking over Pizza Villa (February 21)
- The opening of Coals Pizza (June 12)
- The opening of the Royale Lunch Bar (April 2)
- JP’s Bistro decission to move to Falmouth (September 30)
- First news about the Maine Maple Creemee food truck (July 10)
Notable Events of 2019
- January – the former Aurora Provisions building was bought at auction by Tom Landry, 6 Maine producers were award recipients at the Good Food Awards, Botto’s Bakery celebrated their 70th anniversary, the 2019 Chef’s Summit took place; Gross Confection Bar and Little Sichuan opened; Ice It Bakery, the Washington Ave CBD, Rosanna’s Ice Cream closed; and both Frog & Turtle and Tandem Bakery announced expansion plans.
- February – 9 Maine chefs and restaurants were among the 2019 Beard Award semifinalists, Figgy’s chef/owner Natalie DiBenedetto appeared on Chopped, word broke about Magnus on Water, Sam and Rob Minervino took over Pizza Villa, Portland Food Map began publishing monthly restaurant real estate listings; Strata, Oxbow Beer Garden, the Kuno food truck launched.
- March – Two Maine brewers Lone Pine (5) and Mast Landing (24) were among the Brewers Guild’s list of the fastest growing brewers in the country, Elise Miller from Rosemont competed and won on Chopped, Hunt & Alpine bartender Sylvi Roy came out on top at the North East SpeedRack competition, Chad Conley and Greg Mitchell celebrated 5 years of owning Palace by keeping the diner open continuously for 30 hours, Cong Tu Bot hosted Lil’ Deb’s Oasis for a pop-up, Rob Tod from Allagash Brewing Co. was named a Beard Awards nominee in the Outstanding Wine Beer or Spirits Producer category, Chaval bar manager Pat McDonald became a national finalists in the 2019 Tio Pepe cocktail competition, North Bayou and Ripka relocated to Maine; the MBC tasting room, Bird & Co, Dizzy Bird opened, and Ten Ten Pié closed.
- April – Matt Ginn and Christian Hayes appeared together on MaineVoices Live, a fire temporarily closed Fore Street, the inaugural Seaweed Week, the first Turamali pop-up took place at Belleville, Northern Hospitality was named an IACP awards Finalist, Mary Ann Esposito was the guest of honor at a Solo Italiano dinner, Atsuko Fujimoto founded Norimoto Bakery, Rose Foods launched a guest chef series; Cheevitdee began serving breakfast, the Other Side Diner, Royale Lunch Bar, Maiz opened.
- May – Rob Tod was the recipient of a Beard Award in the Outstanding Wine, Beer and Spirits Producer category, Maine resident Scott Tyree became a Master Sommelier, Hop Culture and The Boston Globe published eating guides to Portland; Flood’s, Blue Spoon Cafe, Quiero Cafe, Grippy Tannins, and Rebel Cheesesteaks opened; Vignola/Cinque Terre and Walter’s closed.
- June – The Great Lost Bear celebrated its 40th anniversary and Coffee by Design celebrated their 25th, the 2nd annual PFM paper pocket guide was released, the 2nd Annual Portland Wine Week took place, Wine Enthusiast named Drifters one of the 100 Best Wine Restaurants in the country, Northern Hospitality was a final nominee for a Tales of the Cocktail award; Coals Pizza, Island Lobster Company, Poke Maine, LB Kitchen West, Yardie Ting, Bánh Appétit, Huong Ice Cream Coffee Shop, Lorne Wine and the Forest Ave Blake Orchard opened; Local Sprouts closed.
- July – Krista Desjarlais appeared on The Best Thing I Ever Ate, Cherry Bombe recorded a podcast episode with a panel of Maine’s female chefs and food producers, a fire temporarily closed Ri-Ra and Flatbread, CBD released a set of 3 anaerobic process coffees; The Garrison, the Gross Confection bakery, Three of Strong Spirits, Twist, and Black Dinah Chocolatiers opened; Maelily Ryleigh closed.
- August – The Wall Street Journal has published an “An Incomparable Insider’s Guide” to Portland, the New York Times has published an article on Bluet, Conde Nast Traveler has published a set of articles about Portland, Chaval was the featured restaurant for an Outstanding in the Field dinner, Mr. Tuna kicked on a dinner series – Mr. T’s Night Market – with guest chef Sang Lee, David Mallari appreared on Chopped; the Cider House, the Old Port edition of Po’ Boys & Pickles, and Chula Elotes opened; Brian Boru, Silly’s and Simply Vegan by Silly’s closed.
- September – ChefsFeed held three collaboration dinners at Lio, the B Side explored “the myriad unexpected ways honeybees are part of the social and cultural fabric of our everyday life,” the 3rd Annual Dine Out for Equality took place, BlueFin hosted a Maine meets Miami dinner with chef Micheal Beltran from Ariete Coconut Grove, the Washington Post has published A Local’s Guide to Portland, Novare Res hosted Cantillon Zwanze Day, the 2nd edition of Maine Chefs Table was released; Sticky Sweet opened, Poke Pop closed and the owners announced plans to replace it with a restaurant called Noodle Love, and JP’s Bistro announced plans to move to Falmouth; Lolita closed.
- October – Portland Food Map launched a line of branded tote bags, t-shirts, coffee mugs
with the tag line Small City Big Appetite, Man & Oak kicked off a set of whiskey blending workshops, the 6th Annual Heirloom Apple Tasting with a follow-up event taking place at the Blaine House, Culinary historian Michael Twitty gave a talk at USM, The Boston Globe has published an article about The Purple House and its chef/owner Krista Kern Desjarlais, Harvest on the Harbor took place, the Independent Ice Company earned their Executive Bourbon certification from the Stave & Thief Society, Coffee by Design was recognized by Roast Magazine as their 2020 Macro Roaster of the Year; Candy’s and CBG opened, Terlingua announced plans to move into the former Silly’s building, Burke’s Perks replaced One Six Green in Monument Square, the Toast Bar extended their hiatus due to the lack of staff, and Flying Fox juice bar closed
- November – Portland Beer Week and the 15th Annual VegFest took place, Little Woodfords was recognized as one of the Best Coffee Shops in America by Food & Wine magazine, Medium explored the question “Why is the Whitest, Oldest State in the U.S. Home to Such a Vibrant Food Scene?, 12 Maine food producers were announced as finalists in the 2020 Good Food Awards; Cocktail Mary, Uncharted Tea, Anoche, the new Cheese Shop opened, and A & C Grocery began serving dinner; Andy’s Old Port Pub and Portland Pulp closed.
- December – news surfaced that John and Tanya Lowell are in the process of buying Andy’s Old Port Pub with plans to reopen it, the Maine Sunday Telegram examined whether the Portland restaurant industry is a bubble about to burst, Thrillist included the Hunt & Alpine Club on their list of the Best Cocktail Bars in America, the Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook project launched; Nura opened, Maria’s reopened after completing a move to the former Espo’s space on Congress Street; The 5 Spot and Rockin Ricky’s Closed.
For some other perspectives on the past year see articles by Andrew Ross and Avery Yale Kamilla, and annual A to Z roundup in the Maine Sunday Telegram.
Here are links to the Portland Food Map year in review reports for 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.
Margaret Hathaway and Karl Schatz, authors of several books including The Portland Maine Chef’s Table, and Don Lindgren, owner of Rabelais Books, have teamed up to launch the Maine Bicentennial Community Cookbook (website, facebook, instagram, twitter). The project “will explore the foodways of the indigenous people of Maine, include recipes drawn from the state’s historic community cookbooks, and reveal the tastiest flavors from our newest Mainers.”
The deadline for you to submit your own recipe is January 10th.
The organizers also have launched a Kickstarter campaign to help pay for the “creation, production and printing costs” and intend for “a portion of every book sold after publication will go to fight hunger in Maine”. They’ve gotten commitments of $11,221 so far towards a goal of $30,000.
You can also pre-order a copy of book through the Kickstarter page.
You’ll recall that back in September we reported that Randy and Ally Forrester, chef/owners of Osteria Radici were shuttering their Allentown, NJ restaurant and moving to Portland to open a new establishment.
Now the words out that the Forresters will be taking over the space at 52 Washington Ave when Terlingua moves into their new larger digs in the former Silly’s building. The new venture keeps the Radici (website, instagram) name and will be a pizzeria. The word “radici” means root in Italian and indicates the restaurants intent to pair ancestral food traditions with the “sustainability and versatility of Maine’s harvest from the land and sea”. The Forresters hope to open the pizzeria this coming summer.
Forrester shared that they plan to hand-mixed naturally leavened dough, and that they’re looking forward to the the opportunity to incorporate locally milled hard Maine wheat into their pizza dough.
Osteria Radici was a James Beard awards semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in 2018, and Randy Forrester was a semifinalist for Best Chef in the Mid-Atlantic in 2019.
The Royale Lunch Bar plans to add regular dinner service and focus their menu on fried chicken, according to a report from the Press Herald.
FitzGerald said customer surveys also indicated that its fried chicken sandwich was by far the most popular item. The new menu will serve the chicken as pieces with sides. Other popular items, such as mac and cheese, poutine and Caesar salad, will remain on the menu.