It was a cold and rainy October afternoon, so I was hankering for a lunch that was soft, warm and comforting.

I didn’t have to search the menu at Yeto’s in Biddeford very long before I found dishes with exactly those characteristics. I started with a cup of Yeto’s Superb Soup – that’s what it is actually called – for $3. It featured a pumpkin base, with bits of cod and feta cheese. It was savory, not sweet, and very creamy.

Yeto’s in Biddeford blends Italian and Southern influences. Photo by Ray Routhier

For a main course, I spied something called Shrimp & Grits Parm for $12. It was a big bowl of polenta (described in the menu as Italian grits) covered in homemade tomato sauce, topped with diced roasted shrimp and melted mozzarella cheese. It was very hot, and I had to wait a few minutes before I could dig in, but it was worth the delay. The sauce was tangy and fresh, and the polenta was creamy, with sizable chunks of shrimp and tons of melted cheese. It was almost like a liquid pizza, but with polenta instead of crust. So not really. But it was really good.

I thought the name of the dish was a little odd until I saw on the menu that Yeto’s slogan is “Italian comfort marries Southern charm.”

Ah, now all was becoming clear. I began scanning the rest of the menu for this marriage of Italian and Southern. I saw a Fried Green Tomato Caprese salad, for $9. It had fried green tomatoes, a Southern staple, and butter lettuce, but also some ingredients of an Italian Caprese salad, including mozzarella cheese and basil in the remoulade. I also saw a Po’ Boy sandwich on the menu, famous in New Orleans, but this one was a Calabrian Po’ Boy. It had broiled eggplant, roasted red peppers, roasted mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, garlic, provolone and remoulade on brioche for $9. Under a menu section titled “Stuff,” there was a dish that consists of cornbread filled with mozzarella, breaded, fried, and topped with homemade San Marzano red sauce, capers and parmesan cheese.

Yeto’s Superb Soup – that’s what it’s called – has creamy pumpkin, cod and feta cheese. Photo by Ray Routhier

Yeto’s opened in February 2018 in Biddeford’s revitalized and food-centric downtown, on Main Street near the corner of Elm. Its two main culinary influences come from the two co-owners. One is from an Italian family from New York, while the other’s family comes from Alabama and Kentucky. Makes sense.

Yeto’s is a cozy storefront space with a colorful and eclectic selection of chairs and wall decor. Menu items are written in brightly colored chalk on two blackboard walls. I sat in a booth in the front window, looking out on Main Street.

Part of the dining area at Yeto’s in Biddeford. Photo by Ray Routhier

The menu consists of more than a half-dozen creative sandwiches, mac and cheese and other pastas, soups, salads and “stuff.” The Shrimp & Grits Parm is listed under stuff, as is The Dip, a sandwich of roast beef, Italian pepper relish, roasted red peppers, pickled red onions and provolone cheese grilled on focaccia with a pickle and a side of brisket gravy for dipping.

Some of the other creative combinations I’d like to try on another visit to Yeto’s include the Life’s a Peach Grilled Cheese for $13. It has house-smoked pulled pork on challah bread with cream cheese, gorgonzola, peaches and pork belly candied in peach. Then there’s the Ganon, pulled pork topped with Yeto’s red slaw, pork belly, pepper jack cheese and caramelized onions. It’s covered with a coffee barbecue sauce and served on a buttery brioche bun.

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