The owners of Paciarino have announced that the Italian restaurant at 468 Fore St. in Portland is closing until the spring.

Enrico Barbiero, who owns Paciarino with his wife, Fabiana de Savino, have decided they are long overdue for a trip to Italy to visit family, and COVID travel restrictions will delay their return to the United States.

A few of the take-home Italian foods sold at the Portland restaurant Paciarino. Photo by Meredith Goad

Barbiero said they have not gone home for two years. “We used to go back to Italy once or twice every year, and our parents used to come here,” he said. “But now they are old, and it is so difficult to fly.”

De Savino’s father died unexpectedly two weeks ago, and the couple could not immediately fly home to say goodbye and see their families because they wouldn’t have been able to get back into the United States. Barbiero and de Savino have E-2 visas, also known as investor visas, which allow foreign nationals to live in the United States when they invest “a substantial amount of capital in a U.S. business,” according to U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Barbiero said their visas are good for another three years, but because of travel restrictions, they must get special permission to re-enter the United States from the U.S. Embassy in Rome. Once they get permission, they have to wait 90 days to travel.

After the death in the family, they decided they don’t want to postpone their trip any longer. “We need to go because family is the most important thing at this point,” Barbiero said.

Barbiero said they plan to go to the U.S. Embassy in Rome in October to apply for the special permission. If all goes well, they’ll come back to Maine at the end of April and reopen the restaurant in May. He said he has made arrangements with his landlord and will be able to keep the Fore Street location. Paciarino’s last day of service before the break will be Aug. 18.

Meanwhile, Barbiero said he is looking forward to spending Christmas with his mother.

Another temporary closing

McSeagull’s – a casual, pub-style seafood restaurant that overlooks Boothbay Harbor Marina – has announced it is closing early for the season “due to the staffing shortage and the inability to provide a quality product in a timely manner.”

The restaurant, located at 14 Wharf St., opened in early May this year, and usually closes in late October.

And a permanent closing

The retail store at L&P Bisson & Sons, 116 Meadow Road in Topsham, will close Aug. 28. The owners say they are closing  “due to health issues, our ages, and lack of employees.”

The popular butcher shop and farm have been around for 92 years, and news that the retail store would close led sad, longtime customers to reminisce on social media. Bisson even has a fan page on Facebook called Friends of L&P Bisson & Sons Meat Market & Farm.

From left, Art Bisson, Priscilla Pollock, Bob Bisson and Diana Bisson. Photo by Payal Gangishetti

“We start our day at 3 a.m. and continue till late in the evening,” Art Bisson, 70, told The Times Record last week. “It’s a lot of work to manage, considering we are getting older now. It’s not the store alone that we manage. We also slaughter animals and process them for other farms. We are unable to keep up with things, it’s just too much to handle. Our health is not supporting us anymore.”

The Bisson family said they would still sell a few items – such as milk, cream, butter, and hamburgers – from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday through Friday.

Emilitsa reopens

Emilitsa, Portland’s spot for refined Greek food, planned to reopen Tuesday night after being closed since the holidays.

Hours at the restaurant, located at 547 Congress St., will be 5-9 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

John Regas, who co-owns the restaurant with his brother Demos, told me in May that he would be pleased if they could reopen in August – looks like they made it.

Doughnut shop redux

The new Holy Donut shop on Commercial Street is now open officially, after having a soft opening over the weekend. The shop is at 177 Commercial St., in the spot formerly occupied by Bill’s Pizza. The Holy Donut left its Portland location on Exchange Street in October. The maker of Maine potato doughnuts also has stores on Park Avenue in Portland, in Scarborough and in Auburn.

Mae’s Cafe & Bakery is on the market

Katie Winglass, owner of Mae’s Cafe & Bakery in Bath, has announced she is selling the business. If she doesn’t find a successor, she said, she’ll be closing down after regular business on Oct. 3 anyway.

“What am I’m missing? Time,” Winglass posted on social media. “My children (who all grew up working at Mae’s) are now all living out of state, my garden is full of weeds and having recently turned 50 it’s time to slow down the pace and try my hand at real estate.”

Winglass closed her other business, Big E’s, a burrito restaurant, in May. Mae’s Cafe, which has been open 18 years and has about 15 employees, had been struggling during the pandemic. Winglass received a grant from the Barstool Fund in late January to help keep the business open. And lately things had been looking up: In her Facebook post, Winglass said this has been “the busiest summer we’ve ever had.”

“I’m optimistic that someone with renewed energy and fresh legs will step up to the plate,” she wrote.

Winglass said customers who can’t use their gift certificates by Oct. 3 should mail them in, and she will send them a refund.

Italian cookies are back. Deliziosa!

If you find yourself in the vicinity of Federal Street today and notice the heavenly scent of Italian cookies baking, you can thank the volunteers working to get ready for St. Peter’s Italian Bazaar, which will be held 5-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday. The outdoor bazaar, which was canceled last year, will not be held on Sunday this year.

Italian cookies, ready to eat at the St. Peter’s Italian Bazaar in Portland. Staff photo by Shawn Patrick Ouellette

The bazaar dates to 1925 and commemorates the Feast of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Feast of Saint Rocco.  It features lots of food booths – tables will be set farther apart than usual this year because of the pandemic – and children get free gift bags and the opportunity to participate in a scavenger hunt. Profits benefit the church’s building fund.

The church is still looking for volunteers. Contact Ann-Marie at [email protected] or Sal at [email protected]. For more information, call (207) 773-7746.

Strong man skyr

I have a confession to make: I have never seen “Game of Thrones.” But you’d have to be living under the proverbial rock not to know that the HBO hit show has a huge fan base. Well, fans, get ready: Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson, the actor and professional strongman who played Gregor “The Mountain” Clegane for five seasons, will be in Portland Aug. 21 to promote his Icelandic yogurt, Thor’s Skyr.

Skyr is a high-protein, low sugar yogurt (I do know skyr, if not “Game of Thrones,” and love it). Björnsson will be at an open house tasting event at Maine Wharf, 68 Commercial St., Building C, second floor, to promote the new product. If you’re a fan – of either Björnsson or skyr – drop by between 2-4 p.m. and get a free sample. You must RSVP at [email protected].

Martin Beavers cooking soul food at Fork Food Lab in Portland. Photo courtesy of Fork Food Lab

BBQ and fish fry – oh my

Martin Beavers, owner of Soul Food Paradise, which is operating out of the Fork Food Lab in Portland, is throwing a big party, and you’re invited.

A takeout barbecue chicken plate at Soul Food Paradise. Photo by Meredith Goad

Beavers is hosting an all-you-can-eat, family-friendly barbecue and catfish fry from 4:30-7:30 p.m. Aug. 22. On the menu: Barbecue chicken and ribs, fried catfish, jerk chicken, burgers and dogs, collard greens, and mac and cheese. There will be music and games as well. Beaver’s mother, who inspired his new career as a restaurateur, will be up from New York to participate.

Tickets are $40 for adults, and children under 12 get in free. Bring your own chairs, and some cash for beer and wine.

Reserve tickets at soulfoodparadise207.com, or at the take-out window at 72 Parris St. Questions? Email [email protected].


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