July 1, 2013

Dine Out Maine: Abbondante gently coaxes diners away from typical Italian fare

By SHONNA MILLIKEN HUMPHREY

(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Abbondante Trattoria and Bar occupies the former site of Grissini at 127 Western Ave. in Kennebunk. The space is interesting and varied, and the staff is friendly.

Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

DINING REVIEW

ABBONDANTE TRATTORIA AND BAR

127 Western Ave., Kennebunk. 967-2211; abbondanteme.com

****

HOURS: 5 to 9 p.m. Sunday to Thursday; 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday

PRICE RANGE: $5 to $42, with most dinner options in the $14 to $18 range

BAR: Full

CREDIT CARDS: Most major

VEGETARIAN: Yes

GLUTEN-FREE: Yes

RESERVATIONS: Yes

WHEELCHAIR ACCESSIBLE: Yes

BOTTOM LINE: If you find yourself in Kennebunk craving pasta or a good cocktail, or just looking to please a family of palates, try Abbondante. The space is pleasant and accessible, and the service is friendly and welcoming. Traditional standards are done well, and the menu offers enough choices to explore in a safe way.

Ratings follow this scale and take into consideration food, atmosphere, service and value:

* Poor  ** Fair  *** Good **** Excellent *****Extraordinary.

The Maine Sunday Telegram visits an establishment twice if the first dining experience was unsatisfactory. The reviewer dines anonymously

Beyond the basics, Abbondante offers a Prosciutto "salad" ($12), and if you are a fan of cured meats, try this. It's a more avant garde approach, with a paper-thin layer of prosciutto laid out on a dinner plate (curiously, sort of anchored by folding the edges of the meat around the outer lips of the plate) and decorated with a triad of sweet-sour marinated peppers and a center mound of arugula and pecorino.

Pasta options lean traditional, and Travis described one particular bite of the Gnocchi ($14) as his favorite meal moment. This particular bite combined a forkful of the house-made, pillow-soft potato pasta with a coating of tomato sauce (that actually tastes like fresh tomatoes), a small chunk of fresh mozzarella and a curl of basil.

Likewise, the Abbondante kitchen does right by the Linguini con Vongole ($21) with six super clean, grit-free, littleneck clams and enough soft, fragrant garlic to scare a family of vampires. Both pasta dishes were large, but not obscene, portions.

It would not be an American interpretation of Italian food without a portion of Tiramisu ($8), and Abbondante's version uses caramel, shaved chocolate and cocoa powder in its many creamy layers. It's more than enough to share, but if you feel a little adventurous, order another dessert and try the Vanilla Panna Cotta ($8), an olive oil cake crumble with caramel and Maine blueberries.

Finish with some coffee; it's hot and strong.

The dining experience is a nice effort. From the moment we were greeted by the hostess (who eschewed the hipster jeans for a fabulous orange sundress) to the last bite, Travis and I felt taken care of.

The staff is friendly, the space is interesting and varied, and the menu seems intent on trying to edge away from boring ideas of Italian food -- but not so much that the items are unfamiliar. It's more of a gentle coaxing.

Abbondante is welcoming and pleasant. If you are in the area and trying to please a group of palates (and generations), this is a good spot to do so.

Shonna Milliken Humphrey is a Maine freelance writer and author of the novel "Show Me Good Land."

 

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