PORTLAND – It’s about time.

Pat’s Pizza has finally opened a restaurant in Portland. The newest addition to the Pat’s Pizza empire opened this spring at 30 Market St. in the Old Port, just up from Fore Street.

Pat’s is a Maine institution. Its roots go back to the early 1930s in Orono, though it’s been known primarily as a pizza place since the 1950s. Over time, it has opened restaurants in Augusta, Bethel, Ellsworth, Hampden, Lincoln, Newport, North Windham, Presque Isle, Sanford, Scarborough, and my personal favorite, Yarmouth.

Finally, the omission of Portland has been addressed.

The new Pat’s is handsome, dominated by brick and wood aesthetic. It’s tucked in one of those smallish Old Port spaces that probably feels bigger than it actually is.

As you step into Pat’s off Market Street, you are faced with an immediate choice: Upstairs or downstairs? nature, I’m a basement dweller, so I instinctively went that way. I quickly learned that the downstairs kitchen area is for take-out. There’s a counter, a place to order and a small waiting area.

But the bar is upstairs, along with restaurant-style seating. So I headed up.

There’s a wall-length bar on one side of the restaurant, with stool seating. Tables and booths offer private dining options. The brick walls are covered with TVs, and it’s apparent that Pat’s fancies itself as a sports bar. I counted more than a dozen TVs, and all but one were tuned to sports reruns or sports talk and news shows.

The dining area felt comfortable. There was a warmth to the space, and it was uncluttered. I felt at ease right away.

For lunch, I ordered a side salad and a chicken Parmesan sub. The salad came almost immediately, served in a small wooden bowl. I was one of the first lunch patrons of the day, and a chilled salad suggested it had been prepped that morning. The cukes and tomatoes were chilled, the lettuce fresh and crunchy. My only complaint — and a minor one at that — was the prepackaged salad dressing.

The chicken parm followed about 10 minutes later. It consisted of a tangy marinara sauce, a sliced chicken breast splayed over a warm toasted bun with Parmesan cheese melted on top. I enjoyed it very much. The chicken was moist and thin, making it easy to eat. The cheese was gooey and stringy. The bun was doughy and warm.

The presentation was bland, and the potato chips in a single-serving bag felt like an afterthought, but no matter.

The rest of the menu is what we have come to expect from Pat’s over the years: A huge selection of pizza — though none by the slice — and an array of warm and cold subs and sandwiches.

Pat’s in Portland makes a lot of sense. It’s going to be nice to having Pat as a neighbor.

 

The Features staff of The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram anonymously samples meals for about $7.