Maine Restaurant Week kicks off Wednesday, Feb. 29, at the Portland Harbor Hotel with a cocktail- and dessert-making competition from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Tickets are $35 per person, $65 for two, $120 for four or $40 each at the door.

Local chefs and restaurants will participate in the Restaurant Week activities in a variety of ways. Starting Thursday, March 1 through Saturday, March 3, Chef Lee Skawinski of Cinque Terre and Vignola will cook three different themed, $25 three-course tasting menus at the Danforth Inn, 163 Danforth St., Portland.

On Thursday, March 1, Mid-Coast residents can participate in a Wines Around the World event at the Inn at Brunswick Station at 4 Noble St. for $45 per person. The dinner, prepared by Chef Kevin Cunningham, will be paired with wines from from five countries.

On Friday, March 9, 10 restaurants will compete in the Champions of Breakfast competition at the Sea Dog Brewing Co., 125 Western Ave., South Portland. Breakfast starts at 7 a.m. and the winner will be announced by 8:45 a.m. Tickets are $15 to $17 each and all proceeds will benefit the programs at Portland’s Preble Street resource center.

For a list of participating restaurants and additional events, visit

A few days after Restaurant Week, residents can participate in Mercy Hospital’s seventh annual Gourmet Gala for Gary’s House Food and Wine Extravaganza. The event will take place Wednesday, March 21, at the Holiday Inn by the Bay, 88 Spring St., Portland. Sixteen restaurants and chefs from greater Portland are expected to participate. There will be silent and live auctions, live music and beer tasting events. The event is open to the public, doors open at 6 p.m. and tickets are $40 per person. For more information, contact Kim Toppi at 879-3605.

In other Portland restaurant news, Silly’s With a Twist, 38 Washington Ave., and El Rayo’s Cantina, 85 York St., are open. And, Blackbird Baking Co. of South Portland bought Two Fat Cats Bakery at 47 India St. The new owners said they do not plan to change the name.

In Yarmouth, Ice it! Bakery is open at 305 Route 1 next to the Seagrass Bistro and Maine Roasters Coffee. It is owned by Alan Fried. According to the website, it is an “interactive bakery” where people of all ages can decorate cakes and cupcakes and throw birthday parties.

In Freeport, the former Siano’s at 140 Main St. is now Freeport Brick Oven Pizza. The two previous owners have gone their separate ways – Joe Pompeo runs Siano’s at 5 Brentwood St. in Portland while Steve Fowler-Greaves has the Freeport restaurant. According to a Facebook post, Freeport Brick Oven Pizza is closed for the winter and will reopen sometime in March.

The breakfast-and-lunch chain The Egg & I is slated to open in May at 183 Route 1 in the Dolphin Marketplace in Scarborough. The restaurant is based in Lone Tree, Colo., and was created in 1987.

In South Portland, the Grill House Local Tavern, 725 Broadway, has opened at the former Beale Street BBQ location on Broadway. Owners are Chef Troy Mains, formerly of No. 10 Water Restaurant in Brunswick, and manager Chris Johnston of Five Islands Lobster Co. in Woolwich. The Grill House is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m.  to 11 p.m.

Amy Anderson works in the restaurant industry and writes about food. She can be reached at [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter: @amy_k_anderson.

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