Review of Il Leone

Today’s Maine Sunday Telegram includes a 4 star review of Il Leone Pizza.

Pizzas here are fantastic. Most incorporate imported San Marzano tomatoes, Sicilian olive oil and fresh dairy products from top U.S. producers. Some pizzas, like the limited-run L’Estate and the zucchini-topped Zucche ($21.50), add Maine produce to the mix to tremendous effect. Snag a bottle of wine before you hop on the ferry from mainland Portland or buy a bottle at Hannigan’s Island Market when you arrive on Peaks Island, then settle in for a few slices of finely blistered, Neapolitan-style pizza, a fresh arugula salad, and an evening (or afternoon) of pure Vacationland bliss.

Baharat Closing at End of September

Baharat has announced they will permanently close as of the end of September.

To our friends and community, it has been a wild ride and it is time to turn the page and announce the permanent closure of Baharat. We will continue to operate on Fridays and Saturdays from 4-9 until the end of September and hope to see you all before we permanently close. It has been an incredible experience serving you and we look forward to sharing our new project when the time comes. Thank you so much for joining us on our journey. We have been so lucky to have the support and love from this amazing community.

Native Food Ways

An article in Atlas Obscura by Ann Pollard Ranco examines The Indigenous Origins of the Maine Lobster Bake, and

The clam and lobster bakes of New England are inspired by an ancient indigenous custom, one that long tied the Wabanaki people to our land and celebrated coastal living. To better understand the indigenous origins of this living tradition and partake in the ongoing movement to reclaim heritage foodways, I organized a bake with fellow members of the Penobscot Nation on our ancestral land. Before bringing this ancestral custom burning, steaming, and hissing to life, however, we needed to look to its origins.

a recent article in the Bangor Daily News reports on work by the chef at Bissell Brothers is doing to bring Native American dishes to the menu at the brewery’s Milo location.

Robbins, 32, started cooking professionally about 10 years ago, at the now-closed Wrong Turn Pub in Kenduskeag, He later managed a food truck in Bangor, and was a longtime cook at Brewster’s Fine Food and Drink in Brewer. Now he’s developed a menu for Bissell Brothers that combines high-end comfort food with the Native food he loves.

Cabana Opens Friday

Cabana (website, instagram) the new Latin American cocktail bar, restaurant and social space will be opening this Friday. Cabana is located at 111 Middle Street in the space formerly occupied by Piccolo, and will be open 5 pm to 1 am, Friday through Tuesday.

The small plate menu will include dishes like ceviche, pork and beef albondigas, cubano sliders, maduros with house-made ice cream (bottom right), and a seasonal tostones plate.

The beverage program includes mocktails, wine, beer and specialty cocktails like the Valentina (rum, Irish whiskey, velvet falernum, guava, lime, oat froth) and the Perla (pisco, yerba mate, lime, hibiscus dust).

Owner  René Emilio Peña (top right) also operates La Bodega Latina on Congress Street. He moved to Portland 12 years ago from Miami where he worked in the fashion industry. His vision for Cabana has been 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.


Upcoming Events

August 29Pasilla is holding an aguachile and tostada pop-up at Cocktail Mary.

August 30 – Bar Futo is holding a pop-up at Terlingua.

September 3Tender Table is holding their 2nd Annual Food & Art Fair in Congress Square Park.

September 12Me Lon Togo in Rockland will be hosting winemaker Tinashe Nyamudoka from  Kumusha Wines in South Africa for a wine dinner.

September 13The Well at Jordan Farm is holding a benefit dinner for Farms for Food Equity (website).

September 19 – 25Maine Lobster Week is taking place.

September 23 – 25 – the Common Ground Fair is taking place in Unity.

October 8 – Oxbow is holding their annual Goods from the Woods event in Newcastle.

October 9Dandelion Spring Farm is holding a Harvest Feast. The meal will be a “Contemporary American style dinner influenced by Kristie Rudolph’s Korean American heritage. This multi-course dinner will be celebrating the best of seasonal produce along with local proteins.”

October 9 – the Maine Cheese Guild is holding Maine Open Creamery Day.

Keg and Kraken Now Open

Keg and Kraken (instagram) opened tonight. The new restaurant is located at at 653 Congress Street in the space formerly occupied by Kushiya Benkay. Owners Jiraphon and Steve Richards along with Nisachuan Young are serving a menu of sushi, yakitori, and Thai dishes.

The Richards also own a laudromat in Biddeford. Nisachuan Young has experience in the hospitality business in Thailand where she was the assistant director of food and beverage at the Four Seasons Hotel in Samui as well as the manager of Luca Cafe in Maine.

Soni’s Market Place


Yardie Ting owner Shanna-Kay Wright is taking over the former Karmasouptra space on the second floor of the Public Market House where she’s planning to open Soni’s Market Place (instagram) which will serve grab and go breakfast and lunch including sandwiches, pasta bowls, desserts, tea and coffee.

In addition Wright plans to use Soni’s to give Portland area micro businesses a little helping hand by stocking and selling their products at the Public Market House. She hopes to launch Soni’s by early September.

The business is named after Wright’s daughter who passed away at the age of 5. She plans on decorating it “pretty and pink…just the way she liked everything”.

Novel Book Bar & Cafe

A new business called Novel (website, facebook, instagram) is under construction at 643 Congress Street. Business partners Joshua Ames and Nate Donovan are hoping to open their doors by January.

Novel will be a combination cafe and bar “nestled in the ambience of books” where customers can socialize with friends, work and read. Novel will eventually also include an event space where they plan to host local musical talent, book readings and other performances.

Ames and Donovan plan for Novel to “capture the spirit of the growing American trend of Book Bars and to be reminiscent of the classic European Cafe Bar. Come for atmosphere, good company, and great service.”

Novel will be house-roasting their own coffee with beans sourced from Guatemala, and will have a full liquor license serving beer, wine and cocktails. Ames and Donovan are getting help on the development of their menu from Jason and Amy Cote from Cote’s Cafe in One Portland Square.