Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Land of a Thousand Meals, Part 1

Wow, a week has gone by, and not only have I realized I want to go to grad school (shocker) but I had some kick butt meals, at THREE different restaurants, in three days!

But how is this possible you may ask?... Its called dedication people, get some.

Because of my restaurant hopping, this would have been a long post, but I’m going to split it up into three parts, like a miniseries, (move over Sarah Palin)

So hang in there, there is some good info for your next dinner out... no, like real good info.

Sooooo… I'll start things off with Saturday night, and a trip to an Italian restaurant I haven't been to... shocker again! I feel like if there is an Italian place in Portland, ME, I have been to it. So, imagine my delight when I got the opportunity to go to Paciarino Restaurant and Store, http://www.paciarino.com/. Located on Fore Street in Portland's Old Port district, its a charming, small restaurant and store where one can purchase fine Italian food products straight from the boot (Italy).*

*(Disclaimer... I have had a lot of good Italian food in Portland and around the US, so I'm bit biased and have things I respond to better than others... just sayin')

I had reservations for 8 pm, and arrived early, mostly because I was hungry, but also I wanted to survey the place and get a little recon in before dinner. The space was friendly, colorful and small, with yellow walls and blue windows. Seating, aside from the cute and comfy vestibule couch, was hard "Bob’s furniture special" chairs. When seated by the flustered by kind hostess, I looked at the menu, and instantly became confused.

Wordy, disjointed, and with several grammatical mistakes, the menu makes it hard to focus on the delish plates they do have. Their menu is primarily pasta dishes, with their own special sauces straight from Italy, and their appetizer menu seemed promising as well, with standard fare like Caprese Salad and a plate of Crostini, Crostini all'Italiana, toast with various Tapenades (ground up olives and eggplants, etc...)

So to start, I ordered a Caprese salad and my friend ordered the Crostini. My salad was perfect!!! Fresh basil, light and moist mozzarella, and sweet, ultra ripe tomatoes, with sea salt and cracked pepper atop, drizzled with olive oil (wow I need a moment, and maybe a cigarette)

Ok back, the salad was really good! But… the Crostini were kinda weak. I prefer Tapenades saltier, and with more flavor in general, and the only one that was really exciting was the hot pepper pate, because it was stronger than bland.

This, then, is a common theme for this restaurant. It has the right idea, and the ingredients are right on, but somehow the entire combo just misses the mark. This is true of the service as well. While some tables had bread, we did not receive any. Our table had a candle, some tables didn’t. The entire experience seemed a bit frenzied, but every table was packed so I’m sure that has most to do with that.

Ok, entrée time. I got a special of the night… Ravioli filled with Porcini mushrooms, toped with an uber-rich (too rich) butter sauce, fresh parmesan, and walnuts. The ravioli themselves were amazing, and the Porcini filling was savory yet light. However, the sauce was way too rich and buttery, and competed with the delicate and earthy mushroom filling. (If this were a light cream sauce, this dish would have been far better). I was also able to sample another special, as my friend got the sweet Pumpkin ravioli with fresh Parmesan, and drizzled with a balsamic reduction, almost too sweet, almost.

The wine selection was good here, but for non drinkers, there really isn’t much more than water or tea. However, the dessert menu was traditional. I had to get dessert, naturally… for you know research… and settled on my fave, Tiramisu!!! Absolutely delish, might be the best I’ve had. And for $7.95 I'm glad it was.

So, is it time for the fork test? I think so. Overall fork rating this time is a 3 Fork, with maybe half a fork toward the authenticity of the food. Grand total then? 3 Forks because that Tiramisu and Caprese were both so good, but the service, overall entrée impact, overall dining experience, and food’s value fell a bit short (the shiz is not cheap here).

There, 3.5 Forks, we are done with Paciarino, and I’ll be going back, for a lunch Caprese Salad.

Words for the day?

Thanksgiving is almost here, and for better or worse, family will be around you. So surround yourself with a buffer of good food, as this will make you happy, your family impressed and jealous, and maybe you’ll slip into a food coma and sleep right through the pain… Gobble Gobble y’all.

No comments:

Post a Comment