Saturday, March 8, 2014
Jill Brady/Staff Photographer: Andrew Brokos, kitchen manager, prepares sandwiches such as The Reuben, seen here served with fries and a pickle, at Ari's East End Market in Portland. *for GO Eat & Run*
I had driven by Fasulo's on Washington Avenue for years and knew it as a pretty reliable place to get a good Maine Italian sandwich.
When I saw the place had changed its name to Ari's East End Market, I stopped in to see if anything else had changed.
Under new management, the place has an expanded and creative menu that is all over the culinary map, from Italians and Reubens and poor boys to haddock sandwiches, pork egg rolls, clam cakes, BLT pizzas and scallop dinners. Plus, there are omelettes and egg-and-cheese sandwiches for breakfast, and fried dough and homemade cheesecake for dessert.
When I stopped by for lunch, I tried two of the new items. I started with chicken quesadillas ($3.99), which were cut into four large triangular pieces. The tortillas were nice and crispy, and still warm, the cheddar cheese was nicely melted, and the chicken had a little kick. The dish came with a fresh, chunky salsa and a container of sour cream. It was enough by itself to make a hearty lunch.
There were a variety of fillings for the quesadillas, and one that seemed oddly tempting to me was the one that had a cheeseburger and fries wrapped inside a grilled tortilla, for $4.49.
I also sampled a Rachel sandwich ($6.99), which was toasted wheat bread with a pile of very lean pastrami, swiss cheese and home-made coleslaw. The slaw was crisp and fresh tasting, not sweet with too much mayonnaise like some.
Some of the other innovative sandwiches I'd like to try sometime include the French Dip, roasted beef in a sub roll with beef juice for dipping, for $4.99; the oven-toasted haddock sandwich, $5.99; and the Lumber Yard, a toasted sandwich of ham, cheese and bacon, $4.49 for a small.
The menu indicated the place had hung onto several of the sandwiches Fasulo's was known for, including BBQ pork ($5.99 for a small) and a meatball sub ($6.49 for a small.)
The extensive menu can be navigated in sections. First, there are the 16 or 17 subs and Italians. Then there are salads and wraps, quesadillas, special sandwiches (including the Rachel and a Reuben), oven-toasted sandwiches and grilled favorites. The latter category includes a grilled cheese for $2.25, a chilli dog for $2.50 and a triple-decker hamburger for $4.95.
There are sides, which range from $1.50 clam cakes to a $4.49 small order of scallops. Appetizers range from a pork egg roll ($1.79) to cheddar jalapeno poppers ($3.99).
There's a selection of pizzas, breakfast items and some dinners, which include salad, fries and bread and butter. The chicken tender, scallop, haddock and clam-strip dinners are $8.29 each.
Ari's is located at the bottom of Munjoy Hill, just a few minutes from the Eastern Promenade park. So it would be an excellent spot to get a picnic meal.
But the menu is so extensive, you'll save time if you peruse it ahead of time, online at www.mainetakeout.com.
The Features staff of the Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram anonymously samples meals for about $7.