February 24

Dine Out Maine: Siano’s Pizzeria in Portland deals in gutsy home-style Italian cooking

By John Golden

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There’s nothing fancy about the dining-room decor at Siano’s Pizzeria, but pretty much all the dishes are made from scratch, derived from old family recipes, and the aroma from the wood-fired brick ovens is impressive.

Photos by Gordon Chibroski/Staff Photographer

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This Evergreenza pizza is ready to come out of the woodfired brick oven at Siano's Pizzeria. Ingredients include pesto, spinach artichokes, pepperoncinis & broccoli.

pizzeria

SIANO'S PIZZERIA

*** ½

WHERE: 5 Brentwood St., off Stevens Ave., Portland, ME (207) 771-7878; www.sianosmaine.com

HOURS: Breakfast, Thursday to Sunday, 8 a.m. to noon; lunch, Monday to Sunday, 11 to 4 p.m.; dinner, Monday to Sunday, 4 to 10 p.m. Happy Hour, Monday to Friday, 3 to 6 p.m.

CREDIT CARDS: Yes

PRICE RANGE: Breakfast, lunch and dinner: $3.99 to $17.99

VEGETARIAN: Yes (a few choices)

GLUTEN-FREE: Yes (a few choices)

KIDS: Yes, welcome

RESERVATIONS: Yes

BAR: Full bar

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes

BOTTOM LINE: This is the quintessential Italian-American comfort food dining establishment that’s both a pizzeria made in wood-fired brick ovens and a full restaurant menu serving gutsy, well-made fare. The veal cutlet Parmigiana is one of the best in the Portland area, rich with sauce, cheese and buttery tender veal. Other dishes excel too, like their homemade ravioli and creative pasta dishes, chicken cacciatore and an array of very good pizza made with their homemade red sauce and pizza dough. Blackboard specials are available every day in addition to the regular menu. Lunch dishes are smaller versions of dinner-size portions, and the breakfast menu offers traditional selections.

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.

 

Attention to detail was evident in nearly every dish we had at dinner. All the entrees come with a salad of very fresh greens; we opted for the blue cheese dressing, which was well made.

One of my guests loved her chicken Marsala ($14.99) served over linguini; the sauce was just creamy enough without being soupy and the overall dish had the sweet, earthy flavors from the Marsala wine. My other guest had a few qualms about his chicken Parman ($13.99), also served over linguini. He thought the pasta was slightly overcooked and the chicken needed more red sauce; otherwise the flavors were good. Upon request our waitress quickly brought over a bowl of sauce.

My lasagna was a good sized portion – not the usual heaping serving that so many restaurants dish out to excess and winds up in Styrofoam take-out containers. It was prepared with several cheeses, including a rich topping of mozzarella, Parmesan, pecorino and a velvety-smooth ricotta filling. It’s served with Siano’s homemade meatballs or sausage. I chose one of each. The meatballs were very moist and the sausage had just the right spice blend.

The only dessert on the menu that evening was a house-made cannoli. Our waitress pointed out that because the food is so rich most people don’t have room for dessert; only one or two choices are offered each evening. The cannoli had a rich ricotta filling, and the crisp pastry shell was laced with twirls of chocolate sauce.

Siano’s can be counted on for gutsy home-style Italian cooking. At $100 for three people with wine but before tip, it was a reasonable tab for a very satisfying meal in such a welcoming setting.

John Golden, who lives in Portland, writes about food, dining and lifestyle subjects for local and national publications. He can be reached at:jdgmaine@gmail.com

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