Portlanders are getting a chance to try “one of America’s best” bagels, as Saveur magazine anointed them two years ago.

The much-anticipated soft opening of Forage Market took place over the weekend at 123 Washington Ave. If you missed it, a second soft opening is scheduled for Thursday and Friday from 7 a.m. until the bagels sell out. A soft opening is when a new eatery opens informally for a day or two as a test run. Forage’s grand opening is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The original Forage in Lewiston is known for its hand-rolled bagels baked in a wood-fire oven. In 2016, a writer for the glossy national food magazine Saveur wrote, after tasting the market’s bagels: “These were not just great bagels for Maine. They were great bagels for anywhere.”

Though the Lewiston market also sells soups and sandwiches for lunch, the 4,000-square-foot Portland store will limit itself, for now, to an abbreviated menu of bagels, breakfast sandwiches and pastries, owner Allen Smith said.

“I think we may hold off and announce (the lunch menu) later,” he said. “We’re still consolidating the staff, and we want to make sure we’re ready for that.”

Smith said he was “very happy” with the turnout at last weekend’s soft opening. The market sold out of bagels around noon both days, he said.



Executive chef Paolo Laboa and his wife Mercedes are buying Solo Italiano from owner Angelo Ciocca, president of Nova Seafood.

The Laboas have filed for a new city license to mark the transfer of ownership of the 120-seat restaurant at 100 Commercial St. Paola Laboa will be executive chef and co-owner; Mercedes Laboa, who has more than 20 years’ experience working in restaurants, will be co-owner and operator; and Jesse Bania will remain general manager.


Krista Desjarlais has announced she’ll be serving beach food (think gourmet hot dogs and hamburgers and more) again for the last three weekends of summer at Bresca & the Honey Bee, her snack shack at 106 Outlet Road on Sabbathday Lake in New Gloucester. She had been serving only homemade ice cream and beverages (although what ice cream!). The savory food will be for sale on weekends only, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., including Labor Day weekend (Saturday and Sunday only). Ice cream is available every day. Another treat: Next weekend, look for her peach tarte tatin, no doubt made with juicy local peaches, in season right now.

Desjarlais also tells us that when she re-opens the Purple House in North Yarmouth this fall, she’ll be less focused on bagels and more focused on pastries.



Noble BBQ, 1706 Forest Ave., and its food truck are taking a summer break from Aug. 11-22. Luckily, Portland now has a lot of options for good barbecue, so if you get a hankering, you won’t have to wait until Aug. 23.


The Portland region was slow to catch on to the poke craze, but now it’s catching up, with a fourth poke restaurant in the works.

Tien Nguyen, owner of Crunchy Poke, which will be located at 426 Fore St. in the former East End Cupcakes spot, says in his application for a city license that the restaurant will be a fast food, “Chipotle-style” establishment serving poke, Japanese food, wine and beer. He hopes to open in September.

Poke (pronounced po-KAY) is a Hawaiian dish of cubed, marinated raw fish often served in bowls with vegetables and rice.


Jimmy Liang opened the Greater Portland area’s first poke restaurant, Big Fin Poke, a couple of years ago and now has locations in both Westbrook and South Portland. Poke Pop at 658 Congress is owned by Anusat Limsitong, the owner of Thai 9 Restaurant in Scarborough and a former sushi chef.

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

[email protected]

Twitter: MeredithGoad

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.