December 20, 2012

Eat and Run: Back Cove BBQ & Pizzeria, Portland

An old neighborhood eatery gets a new emphasis on barbecue and pizza, with plenty of other choices too.

From staff reports

When Back Cove Deli moved to Westbrook a couple of years ago, its old space on Ocean Avenue in Portland became Back Cove Eatery.

click image to enlarge

Back Cove BBQ & Pizzeria offers a large menu of pizza, sandwiches, burgers and hot dogs, and has a portable smoker.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


WHERE: 89 Ocean Ave., Portland; 773-7499

HOURS: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday

CHEAPEST GRUB: Grilled 1⁄4-pound jumbo Coney Island dog with sauteed onions and peppers, $4.99

WAIT: Five to 10 minutes


HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: No, there’s a large step at the front door.

RATING: ★★★★

Based on a five-star scale

Now it has changed names again. Last month, the business officially became Back Cove BBQ & Pizzeria, and it has been transformed into a nice little neighborhood place to get fresh-made pizza, subs, burgers and hand-cut beach fries.

The owner sells barbecue in the summer at Pine Point Beach, and that is a centerpiece of the large menu here.

A pulled pork plate is one of the customer favorites, and pulled pork also shows up on pizza ($11.99 for a 12-inch with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, caramelized onions and peppers) and in sub sandwiches ($7.99).

A wrap features a quarter-pound of smoked-pit ham and cheese ($6.99). A recent special was an applewood slow-smoked barbecue chicken dinner served with rice pilaf and homemade cranberry sauce for $9.99. There's even a slow-smoked barbecue pulled turkey sub ($7.99).

The first thing that struck me when I walked in was how clean the place was -- nice for a small neighborhood joint that looks a little worn on the outside. A huge refrigerated case holds beer, sodas, teas, energy drinks and homemade desserts. There's a large rack of chips from which to choose, and a station for fountain sodas.

There's some seating at the counter, and more at three small round tables -- about a dozen chairs in all -- but most people probably come here for takeout.

Order at the counter, and listen to the jazz playing softly in the background while you wait for your order.

The menu is huge, and includes everything from fish and chips to several styles of Coney Island dogs. Some items are prepared in many different ways.

Fancy a 6-ounce pub-style Angus cheeseburger? You can get it in Buffalo blue, ragin' Cajun cheddar, Caribbean sweet and spicy, crispy French onion, Parmesan peppercorn and about a half-dozen other varieties.

Chicken tenders come in six flavors besides original, including bacon ranch and General Tso chicken. Even the fries come in different flavors, such as Greek-seasoned and Southwest ranch.

The pizza is made with homemade dough and comes in two sizes, 12- and 14-inch. You can customize your own or order one of the specialty pizzas.

There's a Philly Steak & Cheese pizza, for example, that comes with grilled steak, ranch dressing, four cheeses, peppers and onions. The house signature Italian-style pizza is topped with hot capicola ham, Genoa salami, pepperoni, four cheeses, peppers and onions.

I tried the pulled pork plate, which came with the hand-cut beach fries for $9.99. The pulled pork came in a white sub bread, and was full of smoke flavor.

The only complaint I had, if you can call it that, is that the sandwich cried out for some kind of sauce. The meat was fine on its own; I just prefer sauce. Perhaps there's some at the counter that you can request. Luckily, I had some at home.

While the bacon ranch fries were certainly tempting, I decided to go with the original unflavored beach fries, and they were indeed reminiscent of barefoot days in the sand.

North Deering needs more locally owned places with good food to keep the pizza and burger chains at bay.

Borealis Bakery & Bistro, located just down the street from this new place, appears to have done well.

Here's hoping Back Cove BBQ & Pizzeria will fill a niche in the neighborhood as well.

The staff of GO anonymously samples meals for about $10.


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