March 10, 2013

Dine Out Maine: You can't see Italy from here, but you can certainly taste it


(Continued from page 1)

click image to enlarge

Ribollita eschews the stereotypes of Italian dining – no checkered table cloths or Chianti candle holders. Instead, it offers some of the most inspired Tuscany-influenced fare in Maine.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer


RIBOLLITA, 41 Middle St., Portland. 774-2972; RIBOLLITAMAINE.COM


HOURS: 5 p.m. Monday to Saturday

PRICE RANGE: $4.75 to $19.95, with most dinner entrees in the $15 to $18 range

BAR: Beer and wine; exclusively Italian wine list




KIDS: No children's menu



BOTTOM LINE: Ribollita's long-standing reputation is well-deserved. Order handmade pasta (especially the gnocchi) in this rustic, romantic neighborhood trattoria, and have it served by friendly and food-loving staff. The signature ribollita soup is outstanding, and each of the exclusively Italian wines show thought in both selection and price point. For some of the best Tuscany-inspired dishes in the area, Ribollita is the place to go.

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.

For traditionalists, I suggest the Penne Arrabiata ($13.50). This entree can easily serve two or provide ample lunch for the next day, and the rich, spicy tomato sauce was clearly prepared with time and love.

Definitely add a side order of Sausage and Rapini Saute ($5.50) with its coins of robust sausage and soft, almond slivers of garlic peeking out from the tender green rapini.

For non-pasta lovers (or the gluten-free), Ribollita's Beef Short Rib Agrodolce ($17.95) is a terrific choice. Quick Italian lesson: Loosely translated, "agro" means sour and "dolce" means sweet. Served with a side of garlic mashed potatoes, these sweet and sour ribs were fork-tender and tasty. Definitely on the "must order again" list.

Save room for dessert. Ribollita's interpretation of flourless chocolate cake is exceptionally smooth and rich. Somewhere between a cheesecake and a truffle, Ribollita's also used a nut-based crust that knocked an often tired dessert into the gastronomical stratosphere.

While Middle Street in March is not a sun-filled Italian avenue, nor is the Ribollita experience more than it ever claims, it is abundant and rich in flavors from the birthplace of Italy's Renaissance masters -- making spring seem just around the corner.

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


Were you interviewed for this story? If so, please fill out our accuracy form

Send question/comment to the editors

Further Discussion

Here at we value our readers and are committed to growing our community by encouraging you to add to the discussion. To ensure conscientious dialogue we have implemented a strict no-bullying policy. To participate, you must follow our Terms of Use.

Questions about the article? Add them below and we’ll try to answer them or do a follow-up post as soon as we can. Technical problems? Email them to us with an exact description of the problem. Make sure to include:
  • Type of computer or mobile device your are using
  • Exact operating system and browser you are viewing the site on (TIP: You can easily determine your operating system here.)



More PPH Blogs