207 Bar & Restaurant has leased the building at 337 Cumberland Ave., which once housed Maria’s Ristorante. Google photo

Portland resident Antoine Bikamba and three business partners have leased 337 Cumberland Ave. – the former home of Maria’s restaurant – and plan to open a restaurant there this month serving mostly African cuisine.

A sample menu for 207 Bar & Restaurant includes appetizers such as samosas, Kenyan sausage, chicken wings served with Swahili sweet sauce, and ndazi (doughnuts). Lunch and dinner entrees include Mbuzi Choma, marinated chunks of char-grilled goat meat sautéed with onions; Kuku curry, or slow-cooked seasoned chicken; fish salad; and hamburgers. Desserts will include creamy mango cake, madeleines and Belgian waffles.

The Napolitano family, owners of Maria’s, closed their restaurant Oct. 26 so they can move to 1335 Congress St., the former home of Espo’s Trattoria. Maria’s is expected to re-open there in December.

More pasta in Portland, please

After months of planning, Jennifer Rockwell hopes to open Ada’s Portland, at 642 Congress St., this month, according to information on the liquor license application filed with the city. The 14-seat restaurant, in the works since March, will serve Roman-style pizza and fresh pasta in a casual atmosphere. Customers will be able to buy pasta to take home. Rockwell also owns Ada’s Kitchen and Main Street Markets in Rockland.

Grand Central Wine Bar slated to open in Gorham Nov. 21


The spiral staircase at Grand Central Wine Bar in Gorham. Photo courtesy of Karen Nason

Soon you won’t have to take a plane, bus or train to get that New York City vibe. Grand Central Wine Bar at 7 Railroad Ave. in Gorham, modeled after Grand Central Terminal in New York City, is scheduled to open Nov. 21. The hours will be 3-10 p.m.

The bar has a full liquor license and will serve tapas prepared by executive chef Greg Cullinan. As for the design, look for a spiral staircase, big windows, a baby grand piano, and – soon – a clock “just like the one at Grand Central” in New York. Here’s a sneak preview of the space, thanks to owner Karen Nason, a Maine resident who moved back here from the New York City area to open her dream bar:

Maine Food for Thought wins international award

Maine Food for Thought, a Portland-based educational food tour owned by Bryce and Sarah Hach, won an award Sunday for Best Food or Beverage Tour Experience at the 5th annual Food Trekking Awards in London. The awards are given by the World Food Travel Association.

Say goodbye to Andy’s

Andy’s Old Port Pub, a fixture on Commercial Street in Portland for more than a dozen years, closed Friday.

Jennifer Fox, who owned the pub at 94 Commercial St. with her husband, Rick Frantz, said they made the decision to close Friday morning after they discovered they’d otherwise have to replace a walk-in refrigerator. That setback, combined with longstanding staffing issues, sealed the fate of the 45-seat pub, which was known for its nightly live music.

Hello darkness, my old friend … I need some lobster once again

If the time change and approach of winter are as depressing to you as they are to me, maybe it’s time to indulge. Luke’s Lobster switched to its winter menu on Monday, which includes a white truffle lobster roll for $21. That should help get us through to spring.

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