Tag Archives: pasta

A Taste of Milano on Fore Street

19 Aug

Ben and Laura are some of our favorite dinner companions. We love to drag them around Portland with us. They make sure I remember all my belongings, even when it means they still forget theirs (too much wine anyone? Don’t worry all lost items have eventually been recovered due to the kindness and honesty of Mainers). So, when I heard that Paciarino offered amazing Italian food made from local ingredients and was opened by a legitimate Milanese couple, I was in! So, I called and made a reservation before even asking if they wanted to double date, because really, who wouldn’t want to be seen around town with me and my big mouth? Of course being the great friends they are, they were more than happy to oblige my forced invitation.

We started the night with beer and wine at their place near the West End before heading to our 8 o’clock reservation. When we arrived at Paciarino it was a rustle of life. All the tables and even the bar were filled. It smelled of fresh garlic and herbs and for a moment when I closed my eyes I felt like if I opened them I might be magically transported back to Italy. I was falling in love at first smell.

We sat down and everyone ordered their pick of poison. The boy wanted some red wine and us girls were already on a pinot bender so we decided to stick with that. We also ordered some appetizers—the Tris de Bruschette (pronounced: BRU-SKETTA for any non-Italian folk) and the Crostini all-Italiana. Both were A-MAZING. The bruschette comes with three pieces, one was traditional Sicilian garlic, another was traditional tomato and basil while the final piece was a roasted tomato and garlic. The roasted tomato one was far and away my favorite. The flavors were so rich and I don’t know how they achieved it, but it was so smooth and tasted like there was no acidity to the tomatoes. It was heaven on toasted Tuscan bread.

The Crostini all’Italiana included toasted baguettes with all house made, vegetarian tapenades and pates including: olive, eggplant, garlic, red pepper, wild fennel. I must say I am not a fennel person, so that was not my favorite. I actually have yet to find a dish I feel is really enhanced by fennel. The garlic and olive ones on the other hand were amazing. I am a bit of a tapenade connoisseur, and this was top-notch. I would highly recommend this appetizer as well.

The aftermath of the appetizers

After polishing those off, we were all still famished. Maybe it was late seating that we opted for or maybe the appetizers were just fueling the flame for our burning desire to taste something in Maine that might be reminiscent of any “real” Italian food I have had before. I was practically on the edge of my seat, but still in the back of my mind prepared for disappointment.

When the food arrived the smells indicted FRESH, FRESH, FRESH. I let out a very relieved sigh, while I happily breathed in the all the fresh garlic, basil, thyme, and oregano smells I could so I could just savor the moment and feel the kind of inner peace that can only be achieved through a highly flavorful carb laden meal. I reached Enlightenment that night.

Ben ordered the Ravioli Bolognese.

Ravioli Bolognese

Mark had the lasagna alla Bolognese.

Lasagne Bolognese

Laura went for the Spaghetti aglio olio e Peperoncino since she’s our resident vegan.

Aglio Olio Pasta

I had the Lobster Pasta special with a garlic aioli (aka: the tourist special. Mark was making fun of me).

Lobster Special

All in all, great food with great friends on a great night! All the dishes were rich, flavorful and authentically fresh. I would recommend this restaurant to anyone who is looking for Italian food made from farm fresh ingredients at a reasonable price. Seriously, just make a reservation already!

Paciarino on Urbanspoon

Brunswick loves pasta!

28 Jul

I must say, I have really been neglecting my poor little food blog, but summer in Maine is glorious, and I don’t want to miss a second. That certainly doesn’t mean I haven’t been eating or traveling, in fact, I have been doing a ton of both! The main thing is finding a time to step out of the beautiful sunshine and into my home office…finally I have forced myself.

Last weekend on a long and often tumultuous journey we called “furniture shopping” we stopped in Brunswick to check out a few shops. Nest is a particularly beautiful store, and we often love to go there and admire their furnishing and wish that we could have a home that was made entirely of custom ordered fabric couches and vintage inspired bird wall hangings, but I digress…we found out they were discontinuing the acorn fabric I so loved in the Times Square Chair so we were back out on the street, our belly’s were empty from an afternoon of defeat from all angles.

We had heard there was a decent Italian restaurant in Brunswick, which we felt was laughable. I mean, we have been in Maine for a year-and-a-half without so much as a single decent Italian meal. Moving from the Pittsburgh area certainly spoiled us for Italian. I mean there it’s all french fries on sandwiches and Italian–the way Nonna made it! It was so darn tasty that I swear…I was afraid after moving here I might never taste that kind of love in a dish again.

We stepped into The Great Impasta on Maine Street in the early afternoon. We were one of only three tables that were seated and I was feeling skeptical. The decor is definitely cheesy, but it had an overall cozy feel. There was one single waitress for the entire restaurant at this time. She was very attentive and came right over with menus and to take our drink order.

We started with the fresh fried mozzarella. It was so delicious, cut right from a fresh block and fried to a delicious level of crispiness. It was then covered with a homemade marinara sauce, which was excellent.

Fried Mozzarella

As you can see we devoured it before the proper photo could be taken.

Next it was onto our lunch entrees. I decided to go for the special, which was linguine with white clam sauce–a dish I can NEVER turn down if I see it on a menu somewhere.

Linguine with White Clam Sauce

It was very nice, with lots of fresh clams, garlic and oil, but it was missing the creaminess that I am used to. I don’t think it had enough parmesan cheese or something. I was yearning for more, so this dish was okay, but still lacking for my high maintenance Italian taste buds.

Mark decided on the stuffed shells with spinach covered in homemade marinara.

He liked it, and overall it was a solid dish, but the noodles seemed a little dry to me, so it was still missing the mark.

Overall, I think The Great Impasta is about the best Italian food I have tried in Maine so far, but I am still looking for a nice, authentic hidden gem somewhere. I would eat here again, but I would try another dish that is for sure. After spending a week in Italy in May I am afraid I will never have real Italian food again. Woe is me.

Next stop on my quest for “real” Italian– Paciarino in Portland!

Great Impasta on Urbanspoon

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