NORTH BERWICK – When I moved to Berwick a few weeks ago, one of my Facebook friends sent me a message imploring me — no, insisting — that I make a point to stop at Allard’s Market in North Berwick on my travels hither and yon.

I scoot past the market on Route 4 (also known as Elm Street) each and every time I drive to or from Portland, so it’s nothing if not convenient. But it took me a good three weeks to finally stop in.

My first visit was for beer. I picked up a six-pack of Sam Adams and a couple of grocery items that I needed for the house. The second time I stopped, I opted to partake of the counter food, and I quickly understood why my FB friend was so enthusiastic.

Allard’s has a full counter menu, and lunch seems to be its forte. It offers pizza, hot subs, Italians and cold sandwiches, burgers, all manner of chicken (sandwiches, wings, tenders) and a few salads.

But it was the breakfast menu that my friend wanted me to try.

Next time in, I ordered a pre-made bacon, egg and cheese on an English muffin. It was good. I enjoyed it very much, and quibbled only about the lack of crispness of the bacon and the chewy nature of the muffin. But the cheese was nicely melted, and the egg was well done but not runny. For $2.59, I felt it was a good deal.

I thanked my friend for the tip, and was ready to move on when she reminded me it wasn’t the breakfast sandwich she craved, but the breakfast pizza.

Ah. Now it makes sense. As I said, the sandwich was good, but nothing I couldn’t find at many other places.

On my third try, I ordered a slice of breakfast pizza ($2.49), and then I understood what the fuss was all about.

A caveat: Breakfast pizza is an oxymoron. To me, pizza means chewy dough, red sauce and a generous dispensation of meats. I don’t enjoy pizza with vegetables or anything green, and I certainly don’t want egg. So I was skeptical.

But Allard’s won me over. This breakfast pizza was an entire meal all in one, with well-done scrambled eggs, crispy chunks of bacon, tiny sausage bits and sliced ham, all served over a firm pizza dough that felt something like an English muffin in its texture.

It was very tasty and fresh — and completely decadent. I plotted my gym workout that night long before I finished the slice of pizza, or the sausage sandwich that I bought because I was sure I wasn’t going to like the pizza.

I finished the pizza in the car before hitting the road, and saved the sausage sandwich for later at work.

A colleague stopped in a few weeks ago and tried half of a Big A sandwich ($6.99) for lunch. The Big A is the house specialty, loaded with meat just like the breakfast pizza, but in sandwich form. My co-worker raved about it, and kept telling me he was glad he ordered only half. No way he could have finished the other half.

But the way he kept talking about it, I was convinced he wished he had that second half stashed away somewhere for a late-night snack.

As good as the food is, I think what I liked most about my experiences at Allard’s was the friendly service. Each and every time I stopped in, I engaged in a conversation with both the counter staff and the folks waiting in line. This is a super-friendly place, and uniquely local.

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


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