Today’s Press Herald includes a feature on Paolo Laboa, the chef at Solo Italiano,
Spend a little time with Paolo Laboa, the executive chef at Solo Italiano in Portland, and you’ll probably discover you’ve been doing pesto all wrong. You’ve been using the wrong basil, or too much basil. You’ve been heavy-handed with the garlic. Or you’re serving the pesto in the wrong way.
But that’s OK. Laboa, 55, considers himself a teacher and is happy to share his family’s pesto recipe and explain the right technique so your summer pesto doesn’t turn out too garlicky or bitter, or with a coarse texture. Since at this time of year, the basil is practically bursting out of the garden, we asked him for a lesson.
Certainly, the number of restaurants in Portland has grown significantly over the past 20 years. In 1998, just 27 Class 1 restaurants were licensed in the city, defined in part as those that sell at least $50,000 worth of food annually – places such as Back Bay Grill, Fore Street, David’s, Sapporo and DiMillo’s. By July 2018, that number had grown to 113, with another seven licenses pending. The number of restaurants with Class XI licenses, the other major restaurant category for the city, also grew dramatically, from 14 in 1998 to 53 in July 2018.
“I’ve heard Portland people say there are too many restaurants, there are not enough people to go around,” Knowlton said. “Sometimes I think Portland people don’t realize how good they have it.”