September 29, 2010

Soup to Nuts: Midcoast has
appetite for good food

Head up Route 1 and discover what lots of diners already know: Good things are happening at restaurants along the corridor, such as Paolina's Way in Camden.

By Meredith Goad
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Paolina's Way in Camden is named for owner Christina Sidoti's Italian grandmother.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette

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Christina Sidoti, owner of Paolina’s Way in Camden, tends her Well Fed Farm in Searsmont. The farm provides much of the produce for the restaurant’s menu.

Meredith Goad/Staff Writer

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WHERE: 7 Public Landing, Camden, ME 04843

INFO: (207) 230-0555


Paolina's Way is tucked in an alley by the public landing, just off Bayview Street. The old building had never been home to a restaurant before, so when Sidoti bought and renovated it, she had her work cut out for her. She added not only a kitchen, but a large wood-fired oven where the restaurant's signature thin-crust pizzas are made.

Sidoti lives on the top floor, where there's a beautiful balcony that overlooks Camden Harbor. An interior designer rents a middle floor, and the restaurant is on the ground floor with a few tables outside covered by an awning. Walking by will make you feel as if you've been transported to Italy.

Inside, patrons are greeted with warm ochre tones and exposed granite from the foundation of the building. The room is brightened by the sunflower-yellow tables and booths. There are about 50 seats; closer to 70 if the outdoor and bar seating are included.

Hanging near the door is a portrait of Sidoti's grandmother.

"The spaghetti and meatballs is her recipe," Sidoti said. "The fried calamari, so good. Umm, I'm trying to remember everything. Oh my god, the arancini, they're rice balls. Have you had those? That's Grandma's recipe. We stuff them with pine nuts and meat and "

She lowers her voice and speaks quickly.

"... she put raisins in but I don't ... capers and then roll them in Parmesan cheese and our homemade bread crumbs."

Why no raisins? "I don't like them. Don't tell her."

The chicken cutlets in winter are Paolina's, as are the lamb sauce in spring. And, of course, the homemade pasta.

The restaurant makes its own bread, bread sticks and focaccia daily, and its pizzas are hand-thrown.

Classical music plays while Sidoti's friendly staff moves around the tiny kitchen, trying not to get in each other's way.

"We run a very tight ship," Sidoti said. "There's nothing in here that we don't need. And that's the beauty of a small kitchen. Everybody's station is small and efficient, so we can prepare 100-plus dinners a night."

On a counter is a pan of sliced beets that have just spent two minutes roasting in the oven.

"They literally were pulled out of the ground this morning," Sidoti said.

A new delivery arrives from Well Fed Farm about every other day. (It's called Well Fed for obvious reasons, but also because there's a well on the property used to water the crops.) A typical summer delivery contained three and a half pounds each of arugula, kale and chard, 20 heads of romaine lettuce and five pounds each of beets, mixed greens, spinach and turnip greens.

Strongin says since this is the first year the farm has been in production, at least 20 different crops were planted, each in several different varieties, to see "what works well for the restaurant and what grows well on this land. So this is really an experimental year."

The challenge in growing food for a restaurant is not overproducing anything but keeping food coming consistently.

And using everything. If just a little bit of thyme comes in, it gets thrown into the lobster stock.

Sidoti tells her staff to imagine being at home in their garden "and oh, I have a little bit of this and a little bit of that, and we can make something wonderful with it just for the one night.

"It's a lot of extra work, but when it gets to the table, it's worthwhile."

Paolina would be proud.


Staff Writer Meredith Goad can be contacted at 791-6332 or at:


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Additional Photos

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Beets, carrots and celery from Well Fed Farm are prepped for dinner at Paolina's Way.

Meredith Goad/Staff Writer

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Well Fed Farm in Searsmont provides much of the produce for the menu at Paolina’s Way in Camden.

Meredith Goad/Staff Writer

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Mihai Dobre and Gabor Gergely make pizzas in the kitchen of Paolina's Way.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

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Holly Toothacker serves a pizza at Paolina's Way.


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