NAPLES — Who goes out to try a new lunch spot on the day a worldwide pandemic hits her state? Well, it was precisely because I did that I fell in love with Annette Country Skillet Diner.

Annette Metcalf opened Annette’s Country Skillet Diner in August 2017 and has since enjoyed a faithful local following. But when COVID-19 hit Maine two weeks ago, she had to lay off her staff a week later – and now is running the kitchen and takeout service on her own.

She still offers the complete breakfast, lunch and dinner menu for takeout and curbside pickup every day from the mini-mall in Naples where’s it located, just before the causeway.

I went two weeks ago – just as state officials confirmed the presence of coronavirus in Maine. As I grabbed a seat at the bar, I watched national news about the pandemic with two other diners (each spaced an appropriate four stools apart).

And yet the regulars at the diner’s bar and tables, the staff’s warm hospitality, and Annette’s attention to detail settled my nerves. An elderly woman came in slowly with a walker, rolled right up to me (a safe distance away) and complimented me on my red-plaid hunting hat. The waitress checked on me more than once.

And that Greek pizza …

In a nutshell: best gluten-free pizza ever, and one of the best Greek pies of all time, at $13.99 for a small, $16.99 for a large, and a extra $2 for gluten-free crust. So much feta cheese, fresh spinach, cherry tomatoes, and top-end Kalamata olives. The homemade cauliflower pie crust was light, crunchy, flaky and sweet like a pastry. I am a cheese, Kalamata olive and crust snob. And I give Annette’s pie five out of five stars.

All mozzarella sticks are not created equal – but the ones at Annette’s Diner are well worth getting. And you can order them out, especially at this trying time. Photo by Deirdre Fleming

Annette offers several pizzas and sandwich options, such as fish and chips ($10.99) and chicken Cordon Bleu ($8.99), as well as entrees and salads. Chances are good the weekly specials are a crowd-pleaser, like prime rib on Friday ($14.99), chicken parmesan on Saturday ($11.99) and shepherd’s pie on Monday ($8.99).

The restaurant offers beer and wine and several mixed drinks, though not while it’s doing takeout only. I appreciated the fact that the boxed Merlot was prominently displayed on the bar. No pretension here.

Before enjoying my one-person pie, I started with a small order of mozzarella sticks ($5.99, $9.99 for a large), and these, too, were juicy and flavorful. This sentimental favorite of mine is a definite comfort food.

But the vibe here was a comfort itself. It’s the kind of place you’d find in northern Maine, with a maple syrup display, knickknacks on the walls, and hopeful wooden signs, like a big one that read: “Blessings.”


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