July 21, 2013

Dine Out Maine: Ports of Italy a welcome anchorage in Boothbay Harbor


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Ports of Italy, near the downtown waterfront in Boothbay Harbor, offers dining on a porch as well as in elegant indoor dining rooms. There is a small parking area behnd the restaurant.

Tim Greenway/Staff Photographer


PORTS OF ITALY, 47 Commercial St., Boothbay Harbor. 633-1011, portsofitaly.com


HOURS: 4:30 to about 9:30 p.m. every day


PRICE RANGE: Appetizers $8 to $15; pasti $17 to $24, entrees $20 to $32


GLUTEN-FREE: Yes. Will provide gluten-free pasta if requested (it is not housemade)



BAR: Full. Italy-heavy wine list divided by region, $30 and up, beer in bottles. Several liqueurs, cognac and single malt scotches.

WHEELCHAIR ACCESS: Yes, through back door from parking lot. Front entrance requires a climb up a full set of stairs.

BOTTOM LINE: Very good food and even some rave-worthy dishes at this restaurant with a fixed and appealing menu. Homemade pasta is top notch; seafood also well-prepared. A few missteps in service made our meal not as relaxing as we'd have liked, but the food redeemed the experience.

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.

At the conclusion of the meal a clearly stated request for decaf espresso arrived as decaf cappuccino. At one point we had to ask for cutlery.

This stuff happens at even the very best restaurants. Some nights purr, other nights clang. But at an upscale place in mid-June, which is not yet high season with its attendant crowds, service was still a work in progress.

I hope that by the time you read this it is running more smoothly. (Our visit was four weeks after opening for the season. When I spoke to Calandri some days later to clarify facts for this review, he asked for my concerns. He intended to bring these up at one of his daily meetings with staff.)

The best dining experiences I've had, from casual to extravagant, have a coherence among the food, atmosphere and service. Expectations based on the type of establishment allow for understanding and an appropriate flow.

Smoother hospitality at Ports of Italy would translate into a fully pleasurable unity and a more relaxing evening. Well-intentioned but disjointed service on the night we visited was the only thing holding the restaurant back from overall excellence.

Nancy Heiser is a freelance writer and editor. She can be reached at:



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