ANTHONY’S ITALIAN KITCHEN $$
151 Middle St.
Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
For 17 years, Anthony’s has been serving, as its saying goes, “a lot of Italian for not much American.” Owner Anthony Barrasso makes mile-high lasagna, homemade meatballs and chicken cacciatore and other Italian fare from fourth-generation family recipes from Naples. On Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 8 p.m., there’s an Italian buffet ($11.95 adults, $5.95 children under 12) that includes salad, garlic bread, rotating entrees, pizza and cannoli. Beer and wine are available. Anthony’s has free parking and is handicapped accessible.
111 Middle St.
Hours: Dinner from 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
When it opened in 2006, the buzz about Bresca – a Catalan word for “honeycomb” – was great. That buzz is still strong, as chef and owner Krista Desjarlais, a former pastry chef, continues to dazzle patrons with everything from creative pasta dishes and fresh seafood to tender veal and exquisite desserts. The braised Tuscan black kale with six-minute egg, crispy pancetta, kombu butter and charred multigrain bread has been known to make people swoon. This is a tiny restaurant, so reservations are recommended.
EAST ENDER $$$
47 Middle St.
Hours: Opens 11:30 a.m. Monday-Saturday; closing varies but may be open as late as midnight to 1 a.m.
This is a casual neighborhood kitchen and bar that serves food that wouldn’t be out of place in a fine dining establishment. Start with some trout fritters, then add a duck or codfish entree. Or maybe you feel like something more casual, like a lobster-and-beef burger or some slow-smoked barbecue. Side dishes include a smoked cheddar potato gratin and apple cider-steamed quinoa. On Wednesdays, the restaurant offers half off all wines sold by the bottle.
EVE’S AT THE GARDEN $$$$
468 Fore St.
Hours: Breakfast 6:30 to 10:30 a.m. Monday to Friday and 6:30 a.m. to noon Saturday and Sunday; lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday and noon to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; dinner 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. daily.
Eve’s at the Garden is in the Portland Harbor Hotel, just a stone’s throw from the Portland waterfront. On the menu you’ll find dishes such as spiced grilled turbot with charred tomato risotto, clams, asparagus and saffron emulsion. The hotel hosts an annual ice bar in January, with drinks served via martini luge. The restaurant overlooks a garden, and there is patio seating in season.
THE FARMER’S TABLE $$$
205 Commercial St.
Hours: Lunch 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday; dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; brunch 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
This bistro-style restaurant continues to attract interest from all around including Business Week and The New York Times. Enjoy Mediterranean-inspired foods in a warm atmosphere amid furniture and art crafted by local artisans. With an emphasis on locally sourced foods from small farms and fisheries, the menu features dishes such as Archer Angus Farms beef tenderloin with polenta fries and puttanesca vinaigrette or Maine dayboat scallops with Maine shrimp arancini and ginger beurre blanc. Fresh oysters are always available on the menu. Reservations are recommended.
FORE STREET $$$$
288 Fore St.
Hours: 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The bar opens at 5 p.m.
One of Portland’s best-known restaurants, Fore Street focuses on regional cuisine with fresh ingredients delivered daily by local farmers, foragers and fishmongers. Ingredients such as hand-picked diver scallops and island-raised lamb are cooked over hardwood and applewood fires under the supervision of Chef Sam Hayward, winner of the 2004 James Beard award for Best Chef in the Northeast. The menu changes daily, but customer favorites such as turnspit-roasted pork loin and Maine-grown mussels roasted in the wood oven are always available.
29 Exchange St.
Hours: 11:30 a.m. to 9:30 Monday to Thursday; 11:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 9:30 p.m. Sunday.
Fuji Restaurant, a sushi bar and Japanese-style steakhouse, is located in the heart of the Old Port at the corner of Milk and Exchange streets. The menu includes more than 30 types of sushi and 40 types of maki rolls, as well as a variety of Japanese favorites. Reservations are not required, but encouraged for parties of three or more. Reservations do not guarantee seating at the time requested.
THE GRILL ROOM $$$$
84 Exchange St.
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; dinner 5:30 to 9 p.m. Monday to Wednesday, 5:30 to 10 p.m. Thursday to Saturday, and 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
The Grill Room is all about beef, with rib-eye and sirloin topping the menu. There’s also wood-fired pizza and a great variety of wood-grilled fish and meat, including a remarkable tuna steak and completely unpretentious baked chicken. The Grill Room has a touch of Old World character and a comfortable, welcoming feel, with an exposed kitchen and chatty staff. Reservations are recommended, but a light bar menu also is available.
88 Middle St.
Hours: 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday; 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Founded by chef Rob Evans, who won the 2009 James Beard award for Best Chef in the Northeast, this well-known Portland restaurant was purchased in 2012 by three members of Evans’ staff. They have promised Hugo’s loyal clientele that they won’t tinker with the menu too much. (There are plans for a new, more casual oyster bar next door.) All plates at Hugo’s, whether slow-poached Arctic char or North Star Farm lamb, are similar in size, and range from around $12 to $18. Three or more courses are encouraged. Reservations are recommended.
468 Fore St.
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; dinner 5:30 to 10 p.m. Monday to Saturday; open 1 to 9 p.m. Sunday.
Owner-chef-namesake Masa Miyaki changes the menu of this Fore Street establishment frequently, but one thing remains a constant: excellent sushi, prepared right in front of the customer. The omakase chef tasting courses range from five courses for $50 to seven courses for $75. Sake and wine pairings can be added. Try the hamayaki appetizer, made with local lobster, crab and scallops, and the ceviche of Japanese snapper.
468 Fore St.
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Saturday; dinner 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday. Store is open
9:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday and Tuesday, and 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m. Wednesday to Saturday.
You can’t get more authentic Italian than the fresh-daily pastas and sauces served at Paciarino. That’s because the owners, Fabiana de Savino and Enrico Barbiero, moved to Portland from Milan in 2008. Watch the couple cook as you feast on dishes such as pumpkin ravioli and lasagna Bolognese and listen to Italian music. Most pastas, raviolis and sauces can be purchased to take home. There’s also plenty of olive oils and other imported goods from Italian producers for sale.
PEPPERCLUB/GOOD EGG CAFE $$$
78 Middle St.
Hours: Good Egg Cafe, 7 to 11 a.m. Tuesday to Friday and 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; Pepperclub, 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The Pepperclub has just celebrated 20 years in business, specializing in local fish, beef and chicken and vegetarian and vegan meals. This has long been a favorite spot for Portland’s vegetarians, who have come to love such creative offerings as the roasted potato chipotle corn quesadilla torte. The Good Egg Cafe built a reputation as a great breakfast spot in the West End, but a few years ago moved into the Pepperclub space. All meals include salads and bread.
41 MIDDLE ST.
Hours: Dinner from 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday.
Located in the heart of what was once a largely Italian neighborhood between the Old Port and East End districts, Ribollita has served artisanal Italian food made with local ingredients for more than a decade. The pasta is handmade, the produce is straight off the vine, and the seafood comes from the Maine coast. The wine list is strictly Italian.
THE SALT EXCHANGE $$-$$$
245 Commercial St.
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday; dinner 5:30 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 5:30 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; bar open later.
The Salt Exchange focuses on contemporary, small-plate dining using local, seasonal foods. The menu has been designed around sharing and sampling. It is American fare, with some French and Italian influences. A chef’s table is available. The restaurant’s extensive wine list features primarily New World wines, and wines are served by the glass, half-glass and bottle. The Salt Exchange also has a large microbrew selection and a heavy bourbon bar.
83 Exchange St.
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday; dinner 5:30 to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday and 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday; bar open daily until 1 a.m.
Sonny’s serves New World Cuisine, featuring traditional Latin, Caribbean, African and American comfort foods. Enchiladas and tamales are made with local and seasonal seafood, cheeses, produce and meats. Fritters and empanadas are stuffed with fresh meats, vegetables, beans and grains. Local clams, scallops, mussels, haddock crab and lobster routinely appear in Sonny’s dishes.
STREET & CO. $$$
33 Wharf St.
Hours: 5 to 9:30 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
This seafood bistro has been in business for 20 years, and for good reason. It specializes in local fresh seafood, and grills, blackens and broils its fish to perfection in its open kitchen. The standards on the menu include broiled scallops and halibut. The rustic atmosphere comes alive in the summer, when outdoor seating puts patrons on the cobblestone street. Some tables are reserved for walk-ins, but it’s still a good idea to make a reservation.
TWENTY MILK STREET (at the Portland Regency Hotel and Spa) $$$-$$$$
20 Milk St.
Hours: Breakfast 6:30 to 11 a.m. Monday to Friday and 7 to 11 a.m. Saturday; lunch 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.; brunch 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sunday. Dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 5 to 9:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
Twenty Milk Street serves a menu the chef describes as American cuisine, with particular emphasis on prime steaks and fresh local seafood, including lobster and scallops. Lobster Benedict and Malted Blueberry Pancakes are favorites from the breakfast menu. All desserts, such as the Apricot Ginger Upside Down Cake, are homemade.
VIGNOLA CINQUE TERRE $$$
10 Dana St.
Hours: 5 p.m. to midnight Monday to Saturday; 4:30 to 9 p.m. Sunday. Brunch 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Two of Portland’s best known restaurants became one when they merged in 2012. Vignola is named for a small town in Italy known for its love of food. Cinque Terre, named for five ancient fishing villages in the Italian Riviera, was dubbed one of the “Top Ten Farm-to-Table Restaurants in the U.S.A.” by Epicurious.com, and for good reason: the owners grow produce for the kitchen on their own Grand View Farm in Greene, where they also host cooking classes and special dinners. Chef Lee Skawinski travels to Italy regularly with his staff to meet with artisanal food producers . The newly merged restaurants now have a chef’s table with a view into the kitchen. Reservations are recommended.
2 Portland Square, Union St.
Hours: Daily 11:30 a.m. to midnight.
Located in Portland’s historic Old Port, Walter’s enjoys a loyal following of local regulars and visitors from away. Jeff Buerhaus, the chef-owner, is inspired by the flavors of Asia, the Mediterranean and the Caribbean. Local favorites include the crispy Asian ravioli and Cracklin’ Calamari starters. For lighter fare or after-work cocktails, visit the lounge area and wood-and-tile bar, where a bar menu is available from 2:30 p.m. to midnight.
505 Fore St.
Hours: Lunch 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday; Sunday Brunch 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.; Dinner 5 to 9 p.m. Monday-Thursday, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; 4 to 8 p.m. Sunday
Inventive cocktails, a rustic atmosphere and well-prepared food from a wood-burning oven all contribute to this Mexican restaurant’s authentic feel. Start your meal off with a customer favorite, the Habanero Watermelon Margarita, which has quite a little kick to it. Or order a flight of tequila from the bar’s large selection of blanco, reposado and anejo, all served with a housemade tomatillo sangrita. The guacamole, salsa and tortilla chips at Zapoteca are all fresh and housemade. Entrees range from fish tacos to enchiladas made with chicken, pork or Maine crab and shrimp.