I was not prepared for my reaction to Solo Cucina Market’s takeout food.

I ordered dinner one night from the South Portland market’s “prepared foods” menu and found it really made me want to try their unprepared foods – also known as grocery and deli items – too.

This happened one night when my family and I had four panini sandwiches from Solo Cucina Market. The extremely tender roast beef, flavorful salami and smoked mozzarella, among other ingredients, were all standouts. Usually when you like something at a takeout place you just say “Wow, I’ll get that again.” But with Solo Cucina, I thought, “Wow, I can get these ingredients and just keep them in my own fridge!”

Solo Cucina Market on Ocean Street in South Portland, in a space that was formerly The Farm Stand. Ray Routhier photo

Solo Cucina Market opened in late March, just after the pandemic hit, on Ocean Street in a spot formerly occupied by The Farm Stand market, a block or so from Mill Creek Park. The market is a collaboration between Portland restaurant Solo Italiano and The Farm Stand. So it has Italian prepared foods, lots of Italian deli meats, specialty items and fresh produce among its offerings. Plus beer and wine.

I wanted to try Solo Cucina Market’s takeout because I’m always looking for another good option in these stay-home times. The prepared foods menu, which includes five creative panini sandwiches on foccacia bread for $10, plus a few prepared Italian dishes and plates. I called in my order and picked it up about 20 minutes later, in the market, where everyone was wearing masks.

We chose three of the panini sandwiches. Mine was roast beef with Swiss cheese, olive pesto, horseradish mayo and seasonal greens. The roast beef was incredibly tender and the flavors in the sandwich were bold. The bread was grilled lightly and really good, but there may have been a little too much oil used in the grilling. Overall, a great sandwich. All the paninis came with a brown bag of house-made potato chips, which was a really nice bonus.

My daughters both got the panini made with Golfetta salami, made in Parma, with marinated mushrooms, smoked mozzarella cheese and olive pesto. The flavors really meshed well and the salami was great, not too spicy. We agreed that this was probably the best of the sandwiches we ordered.

A panini sandwich from Solo Cucina Market with salami made in Parma, marinated mushrooms, smoked mozzarella and olive pesto, plus house-made potato chips. Sophie Routhier photo

My wife, Jess, got one with Callipo tuna, semi-dry tomatoes, aged provolone cheese and salsa verde. I split it with her and gave her half of my roast beef. Again, the flavors worked really well together, with neither the tuna nor the salsa overpowering the other.

We also tried an order of arancini, which were two large breaded and deep-fried balls of arborio rice with saffron, garlic scape, chard and mozzarella, for $10, which we had to heat up at home for about 10 minutes. They were fried just enough and did not taste heavy or greasy. The filling’s flavors popped, but overall it was a little dry. We each ate a quarter of one (they were huge) for an appetizer and then later my daughters ate the other one as a lunch with a little bit of pasta sauce for dipping.

Other prepared dishes offered by Solo Cucina Market include a lasagna for $14, with bolognese and bechamel sauces and Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. There’s also smoked pollock served with horseradish and yogurt dressing, for $9. There are also three plates for takeout: three Maine cheeses and fig jam, for $12; two types of Italian cured meats and two kinds of cheese with red onion mostarda, for $12; and hummus with focaccia, olives, marinated artichokes, red pepper and local feta cheese, for $10.

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