Joe Ricchio is a food and travel writer, podcaster, TV and radio personality and private chef. Photo by Portland Food Map/courtesy of Joe Ricchio

You won’t have to compete with Joe Ricchio for a seat on the city’s patios this summer.

The Portland writer and chef prefers to eat indoors with the air conditioning on full blast, thank you very much. “I’ve never understood people who want to eat outside when it’s super hot,” he said. In 2022, he launched a private catering business Food Coma: Your Kitchen and has been bringing customized menus to clients at home.

Ricchio (@foodcomamaine on Instagram) took a few minutes away from the kitchen to answer five questions about eating out this summer.

Do you have a restaurant you absolutely have to visit every summer?

If I had to choose a restaurant that would be essential to the summer, that would be Aragosta in Deer Isle. If you’re going to have a quintessential summer experience in Maine, I think that has to be part of it. You’ve got to book a bit in advance now, summer’s busy up there, but book a cabin for a weekend and eat there twice. You drive over that hill and get your first glimpse of it. The water opens up, the expanse of it. It’s just beautiful.

I’ve had a lot of different things there, but the one constant is the lobster pasta with citrus butter sauce. (Chef and owner Devin Finigan) changes the shape of the pasta every now and then, but she always has that dish on the menu. That never leaves the menu because people would riot.


What’s your stance on ice cream? Hard serve or soft serve? Favorite flavor? Favorite place?

I like both Parlor and Dear Dairy. My favorite ice profiles in general, there’s three flavors I love, which are pistachio, hazelnut and coconut. I always order those first, they’re the kind of litmus test for a place. Dear Dairy is super rich, it’s almost like gelato, but richer.

If I had to choose a place that I like to go for ice cream, it would hands down in the summertime be Bresca and the Honeybee at Sabbathday Lake. Her (chef and owner Krista Kern Desjarlais, who has partnered with Ricchio in his catering business) ice cream is mind-blowing.

What would you pack to eat on a day at the beach or on the water?

Food isn’t my priority because, once you get one grain of sand in food, it’s pretty much over. Once you bite into one grain of sand, you’re just screwed for the rest of the day. So I don’t love that. I love going into really cold water, and I like being at the beach. If I was going to eat something at the beach based purely on nostalgia factor, I would bring an Italian from Amato’s because that’s what my family, that’s what we would eat on the beach.

What’s new this summer that you’re looking forward to trying?


I’ve been there – they did just open – but I think the new Mr. Tuna is going to be a great addition.

If there’s a restaurant that I’m excited about this summer, I think that would be it. Because I like eating sushi any time, but it’s great. It’s very open and bright. I’m sure they had air conditioning, which is key.

What’s the most overrated summer food in Maine?

Lobster bakes, or like steamed lobster with butter. I’ve never understood the whole fanatical – even steamers, I’m not really a fan of.

I like a lobster roll, but I never, ever want to deal with cracking a lobster to eat it. Wearing a bib, you look like an idiot, I’ve never really understood the appeal. People consider that luxurious, and I’m like, there’s nothing luxurious about having to crack your own lobster and wear a bib. I don’t get it, I never have.

When we do dinners and people want lobsters, we split them. We steam them, split them and poach them in lemon herb butter. People are always like, “Oh my god, that’s the best lobster I’ve ever had,” and I’m like, “Because you’ve only had the boring kinds.”

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