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Jan 6, 2009 07:40 AM

Caiola's - Wow

Our party of five ate at Caiola's this past Saturday and the meal was nothing short of five stars. For me, Caiola's is now the best quality/price restaurant in Portland if not the best restaurant in Portland.

With five people we started with the table antipasti plate and its assortment of small bites was delicious - perhaps the single best dish I have had in recent memory. The curried sweet potato chunks, the chipotle chicken chunks and the three cured meats were the top table favorites but every one of the over 10 items on the plate were winners. At under $15 dollars, the plate is an appropriate metaphor for the value you get at Caiola's.

Four of the five entrees reflected the Mediterranean flavor of Caiola's. My son's paella - requested with no seafood - was tasty and copious; my wife's Branzino, served whole, was moist and full of flavor. (My daughter treated herself to the fish head which was full of succulent meat). My daughter had a lightly dressed lettuce salad and cheese plate for her entree. And her boyfriend had Zuppa di Pesce which contained at least 20 pieces of fish and shellfish in a bread soaking worthy lobster/tomato broth. Only my entree deviated from this tour around the Mediterranean Sea: I had the meatloaf - a combo of hanger steak and pork - which had a delicious beefy flavor. The broccoli rabe and mashed potatoes rounded out the plate.

All of this plus one glass of wine, two teas and one dessert ran under $175 including tax and tip.

No restaurant in Portland can match the quality of the food we had for the price we paid. In my opinion, Caiola's must now be on everyone's restaurant shortlist to eat at when dining in Portland.

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  1. I completely agree, as Caiola's has always been my favorite, but did you have to tell everybody???

    1. Agreed! The food is tremendous, well-priced compared to other similar restaurants in Portland, but what really makes Caiola's special is the quality of the service. Lisa and Abby and their staff are so warm and accomodating. They always hit the mark....right there when you need something, but completely unobtrusive, and always sincere.

      1. We tried Caiola's based on reviews here and couldn't have been happier. For the quality of the food, the atmosphere was refreshingly casual and laid back. We had the warm hummus and baba ganosh (sp?) for an appetizer -- it was delicious!! For entree I had roasted cod, h had smoked haddock special. Both were outstanding and cooked just perfectly. Only negative was dessert. We had key lime pie, which had a very tough crust (almost impossible to cut into) and a rather liquidly filling which should have been denser and richer. That said, we are looking forward to returning, we'll just skip dessert or try something else. Pleased to report that even with economy in the tank, they were doing a terrific business -- every table was occupied (on a Fri nite) and they had to turn people away. Make sure to make a res if you're going on a weekend. And, thanks CH for the recommendation!

        1 Reply
        1. re: maina

          We had brunch at Cailoa's on Sunday and it was fantastic! I cannot wait to go there for dinner. It is #1 on my list for when I go back.

        2. I'm planning a visit here next week. What are some things to order? I'll be going with my mother and we'd like to order and appetizer, 2 entrees, and dessert.

          1. This is an extremely well rounded restaurant. Affordable, delicious, fun, comfortable, the best staff, amazing cooks, yummy cocktails. The crab cakes are to die for!

            2 Replies
            1. re: niceray19

              Ok.. my opinion has been altered slightly. The food is still amazing but I took a party of 8 here this past weekend for my mother's 50th birthday and was very disappointed with the service. I had the reservation for a month so its not as if we had just shown up. We felt incredibly rushed the entire time by our server and the hostess (who was extremely rude). On two occasions we were told that we had to be off of our table at a particular time, we were pressured to order, and hurried through desert. A major let down..

              1. re: niceray19

                I'm a HUGE Caiola's fan, and am sorry to hear about your experience. I hope you'll make every effort to communicate your disappointment to the owner as a way to ensure that if there are problems, they get addressed.