Reconsidering Cinque Terre (Portland)
SO and I took my son and his fiancee to Cinque Terre (their choice) for an engagement celebration. Haven't been in several years, and have noted some negative posts here, so was wondering what the situation was. Here's the short take: not a great wow factor, but some excellent tastes. For pas, I had an usual take on bruschetta: rabbit! Two hearty slices of tasty grilled break with some good-tasting pieces of meat, etc. Others had fried calamari (good, but could have been crispier), and classic prosciutto. Stand-out main course was a ravioli that included tasty lamb (again, an unusual take on a classic dish) and a gorgeous poured-over mushroom sauce: first rate. I had quail served with a nice melange of autumn roots, including small red turnip that really made the dish, serve on faro. Soon-to-be d-in-l had the whole roasted sea bass, perfectly prepared. Last secondi was lobster risotto, very tasty but slightly diminished by over-large pieces of sound-dried tomato that tended to overwhelm. Desserts were nothing to write home about. My overall impression is that this isn't very Italian any more: much more Italian-style / influence dishes in the contemporary "a piece of something on top of some interesting stuff" approach.
Bottom line: still very good, reasonably priced (no second more than $24) for Portland, decent service and well-priced wines, but not in the top rank any more.
36 Wharf Street, Portland, ME 04101
We tried it at the reco of a friend from Boston who knows one of the chefs. We actually found the food very good, and amazing size for apps. We had great wines picked for us to go with the food. Only a couple minor things - the lighting was a bit too low in the upstairs balcony against the back wall; the A/C was a bit overkill up there as well. We ordered the duck confit and port cherry terrine, asked them to pick a cheese to go with-excellent brie was served; this was a portion that could easily serve 4, we split for 2; I had the antipasto app, small portion - this is enough for 4, or even 6 as an app-I got it as my main. It was much better than I expected, 3 great veggie/grain dishes along with generous amounts of speck, hot italian salmi, mozzarella, greens, olives, and more. My husband had soup, and the small portion of the Bolognese pasta
I agree, that Cinque Terre is not memorable. I went there a few weeks ago with some out of town guests and was underwhelmed with the food and the service. But I give them a 100 percent or an A plus on their honesty. My friends' $3000 bracelet fell off at this restaurant. When we came back the next morning, we had no expectations at all that we would find it, but to our great surprise, someone had turned it in. WOW! My out of town guests left with a wonderful perception of the people of Portland and to the folks at this establishment in particularl.