Rebel Munchies & Libations at 649 Congress St., shown at a soft opening in late February, opened officially Friday. Photo by Jared McKenna

Rebel Munchies & Libations, specializing in cheesesteaks and creative cocktails, launched Friday on Congress Street.

The restaurant, which grew out of the Rebel Cheesesteaks food cart that owner Peter Murphy started in 2019, is located in a 3,000-square-foot space at 649 Congress St., former home to Dos Naciones Mexican and Salvadoran Cuisine.

The menu features 5- and 10-inch cheesesteaks with shaved steak or smoked mushrooms ($9-$17); four- and eight-piece chicken nuggets ($8-$15); sides like wedge salad ($10) and Caesar Cole Slaw ($8); and a so-called dirt cup for dessert ($7). The bar program includes nine house special cocktails ($12), and a selection of “High Life Spigots” ($8), a play on the trend of “spaghetts,” or cocktails using a base of Miller High Life beer and Amaro.

Murphy said a customer paid Rebel a compliment during its first weekend, saying the place has a familiar, already established vibe. “He said it it feels like we’re not new, that it’s been here already and people are just discovering it, which I love,” Murphy said.

Murphy hired 20 staff for the 46-seat venue, including a dozen full-timers. “I wanted to make sure nobody on our staff is drowning, and that we’re giving our customers the best service we possibly can,” he said.

Rebel Munchies & Libations is open Thursday-Monday from 5 p.m. to 1 a.m.



Bissell Brothers Brewing plans to open an upscale Northern Italian restaurant concept at their flagship location on Thompson’s Point this spring, which owner Peter Bissell is calling a “restaurant within a restaurant.”

The new restaurant will be called The Garden by Bissell Brothers, and will be located in the 3,500-square-foot space that was formerly home to Rosemont Market and Wine Bar at 38 Resurgam Place. Bissell Brothers leased that adjacent venue after Rosemont closed the location in January 2023, and has been operating in part of the space since August.

Bissell said his team wanted to introduce a new dining concept featuring cuisine and wines from Northern Italy and the Adriatic Sea region, in addition to the popular pub food the brewery already serves.

“We wanted a more refined guest experience with a focused food menu to complement what has become a boisterous, busy brewery taproom setting,” he said. “It’s a style of food and cooking that Chef (David Rinaldi) is really passionate about. We wanted to be able to offer an upscale angle, and this is what we settled on. We’re looking forward to challenging ourselves.”

Menu items at The Garden are to include antipasti like scallop or fluke crudo, and burrata with brûléed fig ($14-$22); cavatelli with braised lamb neck and cherry pastitsada ($29) and char-grilled octopus with Castelvetrano olives and confit garlic ($36).


Bissell said the bar program will offer cocktails and a wine list spotlighting Croatian and Slovenian wines.

The Garden will have 58 seats, and be open Thursday-Saturday from 5-11 p.m., and Sunday from 5-9 p.m. Bissell expects it to launch within a month.


Biddeford & Saco Restaurant Week returns for a 10th year this month, with more restaurants than ever participating.

Event coordinator Delilah Poupore said more than 30 restaurants will take part in this year’s event, which runs March 10-17.

For the first time since 2019, the event will include Saco restaurants; it had been largely Biddeford-based in recent years.


“We’ve returned to a Biddeford & Saco Restaurant Week in really having downtown Saco involved as well,” Poupore said. “Everybody’s been building their capacity again after the pandemic, and I think we’re there now, where everyone can dive in and participate. The restaurants are no longer doing that constant pivot they had to do for two or three years.”

“We’re thrilled to once again partner with Heart of Biddeford and the Biddeford + Saco Chamber of Commerce to showcase the culinary excellence of our community,” Angie Presby, executive director of Saco Main Street, said in a statement.

As with Maine Restaurant Week, now underway, participating Biddeford and Saco venues offer special menu items and discounts during the week, and diners can enter to win $100 gift card raffles.

The week kicks off Sunday with the Community Soup-er dinner, featuring soups, bread and desserts donated by 11 local restaurants. All ticket proceeds and food drive donations collected at the dinner will go to Biddeford and Saco food pantries. Tickets are $8-$15, available online.

Other special events during the week include Local Libations on Wednesday, March 13, featuring drink specials at nine local venues, and Restaurant Trivia on Sunday, March 17 from 5-6:15 p.m. at Portland Pie Company in Biddeford.

Find more information on Biddeford & Saco Restaurant Week at the Heart of Biddeford website.



Elda, a fine-dining restaurant that opened in Biddeford in 2017 and helped spur that city’s restaurant boom, is relocating to Portland.

Chef and co-owner Bowman Brown said Friday that he and his wife, co-owner Anna Brown, had purchased space at 34 Portland St. and tentatively plan to reopen the restaurant in August, with reservations becoming available in June.

In January, the Browns closed Jackrabbit Cafe, their Scandinavian-style bakeshop and eatery located in the same Main Street building as Elda. Elda offered a high-end dining experience, serving prix-fixe menus that cost upwards of $200.

Brown said that once Jackrabbit closed, it no longer made sense for the couple to lease out such a large building, where they also have been living. They’re in the process of moving to Portland, he said.

Brown said that, as much growth as the Biddeford restaurant scene has had, the city’s population hasn’t kept pace in order to sustain the number of dining options.


“There are more and more slices of pie, but not enough people, yet, to eat them,” he said. Biddeford’s restaurant scene was too seasonal, he added, noting that he doesn’t expect the Portland Elda to have to take seasonal breaks like it did in Biddeford.

Bowman does not plan to make major menu changes. However, customers can expect to pay less. The Portland location is substantially smaller, so the owners expect to be able to hire fewer people and buy less produce, which will help lower costs for customers, he said.

“I want people leaving thinking the experience was so great that it should have cost more; I want it to feel like they’re walking away with a bargain,” Brown said.

Before opening Elda and Jackrabbit, Brown was the chef and co-owner of Forage in Salt Lake City and a six-time semifinalist for the James Beard Award’s Best Chef: Southwest category.


Regional School Unit 89 in Stacyville was one of four school districts nationwide to receive an award this week for improving the nutritional quality of student meals.


The awards, jointly created by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the national nonprofit Action for Healthy Kids, were announced Monday by Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack, as part of the USDA’s Healthy Meals Incentives Initiative.

The Stacyville district received the program’s “Innovation in Preparation of School Meals” award for incorporating more scratch cooking into menu items, such as homemade oatmeal bread sub rolls, as well as scratch-made croutons, pickles and roasted chickpeas.

The district, which is in Penobscot County west of Interstate 95 and east of Katahdin Woods and Waters National Monument, also has partnered with Keep Ridge Farm in Benedicta to source ingredients like squash, onions, eggs, carrots and kale, and it hosts monthly taste tests to let the student body determine the next new menu items.

In addition to the Stacyville district, the program gave awards to Clear Lake Community School District in Iowa, Sandy Valley Local School District in Ohio, and Petersburg School District in Alaska.


Twelve Chef Colin Wyatt recently shared his thoughts on his favorite restaurants in and around Portland with Food & Wine magazine.


Wyatt told the magazine about the drinks and dishes at four venues. He called out the fresh seafood at SoPo Seafood Market & Restaurant, especially the chilled Maine oysters and halibut in season.

Wyatt also gave shout-outs to Portland’s Bar Futo – specifically noting a dish with dashi broth, chicken fat, lightly fried tofu and egg yolk – and Tipo’s cauliflower dip with tahini. In Freeport, Wyatt said he likes to hit Maine Beer Co. for “the best beer in the state” and “delicious pizza.”

Wyatt and Twelve Pastry Chef Georgia Macon are developing menus for a new all-day, Portuguese-inspired seafood restaurant on Thames Street to be called Douro that the Prentice Hospitality Group aims to open in late summer.

Staff Writer Emily Hedegard contributed to this report. 

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