October 24, 2013

Photos by Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Mark Claussen of Saco Island Deli in Saco shows off a “Mainah,” one of the deli’s specialty sandwiches.

Eat and Run: Saco Island Deli serves up creative sandwiches

By Ray Routhier
Staff Writer

SACO — My first thought when contemplating lunch at Saco Island Deli on a sunny autumn day was “Where will I eat?”

Saco Island Deli is in a handsome old mill building, on an island in the Saco River between the downtowns of Saco and Biddeford. But I didn’t feel like eating inside a mill building on such a beautiful today.

I was pleasantly surprised to find out that there was a really lovely picnic area in the park just across the river in Biddeford. The views of the river, the stately brick buildings, and the fall foliage were quite stunning. Plus the park had plenty of benches and picnic tables and was only a short walk from the deli.

That’s not to say Saco Island Deli doesn’t have a nice interior, with lots of seating and exposed brick. But I was looking for views to rejuvenate me during this particular lunchtime.

The food was restorative on its own. I had The Mainah sandwich, which was pan-seared chicken breast, crispy bacon, Cabot cheddar cheese, shredded romaine lettuce and maple aioli on a crusty roll, for $8.49.

The chicken was cut in thick slices, piled high, and the bacon was especially crisp. The maple aioli was perfect – not too sweet. And the roll was thick and dense, but a little fluffy.

The overall quality of the sandwich made me want to go back and try some of the other specialty sandwiches on the menu, most for about $8. A few that interested me include: the Vermonter, with honey ham, Cabot cheddar, sliced apples, maple aioli and romaine on a croissant; the Southwest Chicken Wrap, with roast chicken, salsa, crushed corn tortilla chips, romaine and ranch dressing; and the Nutty Roman, with pesto chicken breast, fresh mozzarella cheese, red wine-braised onions, tomatoes, romaine and Caesar dressing on a crusty roll.

There are also panini sandwiches, including a Saucy Texan, with sliced steak, Cabot cheddar cheese, BBQ ranch sauce and red wine-braised onions. There are also Reubens, wraps, and a curry chicken salad sandwich.

Descriptions of the sandwiches are online at The place also services breakfast sandwiches, breakfast burritos and other egg dishes beginning at 8 a.m.

Saco Island Deli is in a convenient spot on the main drag between the downtowns of Biddeford and Saco. But if you don’t have to be anyplace in a hurry, on a nice day I suggest walking down to the river and pulling up a bench or a table, to see that mill towns can truly be beautiful.

Especially with a good sandwich.

The staff of GO samples meals for about $10.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

The “Mainah” features chicken with bacon, cheddar, romaine lettuce and maple aioli on a crusty roll.

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