Fresco Del Forno is on Payne Road in Scarborough, where Pizza Plus used to be. Photos by Leslie Bridgers

Maybe you haven’t felt overwhelmed by the amount of food coming from all directions during the holidays and are still taking whatever you can get. Or maybe you’ve spent too much money on gifts for other people and just need to fill your belly for the best deal possible.

Either way, Fresco Del Forno could be your answer. And if you have any returns to make at the Maine Mall, even better.

Fresco Del Forno took over the red, barn-like building on Payne Road in Scarborough that had been the home of Pizza Plus, bought by the owner of the closed Amore on the Marsh in Scarborough. The menu remains heavy on pizza and subs, but the addition of a $12.95 all-you-can-eat buffet of its mostly red sauce-laden specialties (including meatballs, sausages, chicken Parmesan and baked ziti) could draw a whole new customer base.

On my visit the week before Christmas, I really wanted to sample the buffet and report back, but I had been feeling overwhelmed by the onslaught of holiday food and knew, at that point, there was still much more to come. Frankly, the chicken Caesar wrap ($12.95) was what called to me, but I knew I at least needed to assess the red sauce. I got the eggplant Parmesan sub ($11.95) in what I thought was a compromise between a reasonable workday lunch and a fair assessment of the restaurant’s offerings. Emphasis on “thought.”

Eggplant Parm sub from Fresco Del Forno.

When I opened the takeout box back at my office, my coworkers gasped. The sandwich was so big it almost obscured the entire bed of (somewhat soggy but tasty) french fries it was sitting on. And it was heavy, too, with a huge slab of deep-fried eggplant smothered in sauce on thick, chewy bread. I imagine cheese was hiding in there somewhere, but it wasn’t the type of sub where you’re yanking off strings of mozzarella with every bite.

The red sauce was tasty enough to make me feel confident endorsing the buffet (served 11 a.m to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, dine-in only). Although this is a counter-service spot that seems to do mostly takeout business, a dining area has plenty of tables and booths for eating there.

The service on my visit was attentive and friendly, and despite the place only opening a month earlier, the staff seemed to have a familiar rapport with some customers. As I left with my takeout bag, it became more apparent why.

“Thank you, love,” the counterperson said. “Come back and see us.”

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