Piccolo, Portland: go now before everyone discovers how good it is
Big shoes to fill: the Bresca site. Piccolo is really good already, and I expect it to get better. The space has been modified, so that there's a nice 6 seat bar where food can be served, and 12-14 table spaces: feels more airy, less closed in and noisy, than when Bresca was there. Menu is a intentionally limited, more "traditional" Italian: Abruzzo/Calabria focus. Here's the news: a) very vege-piscaterian friendly (4 of 4 :"sputino" (tastes, but nicely sized); 4 of 5 aps; 2 of 5 entrees; b) almost everything locally sourced and house-made; 3) most important, superb flavor profiles. A few examples: house "pickled" bluefish ap, with fennel, as a de-constructed bruschetta; a winter squash sputino with radish and Italian red pepper: full-flavored and savory; the best lamb ragu I've had outsider of Italy, with a lovely orange nose and house-made cavatelli; squid w/ odd-shaped squid-ink pasta, and a wealth of supporting flavors. If I named everything, this review would get too long. Staff are friendly, welcoming, and very wine-knowledgeable. Desserts are fine: deconstructed tiramisu in a layered glass; excellent and interesting cheese selection (2 local; one unusual version of peccorino). Bottom line: there's everything to love here, at reasonable pricing. Piccolo is going to be BIG, so don't wait.
I went last night for my anniversary and was very happy! The place has a low key, welcoming feel that's very Portland--waitstaff were familiar faces and the service was perfect.
I liked the well edited wine selection--and the food is so good--again, low key in the best of ways with unfussy presentations. I'm looking forward to working my way through the menu--My partner and I split a whole chicken for 2 entree special, which seemed anniversaryish, and enjoyed the whole process. The Pane carasau with rich house made ricotta is a must order, as are the french press affogatos with liquid nitrogen zapped homemade ice cream.
The changes to the tiny physical space since Bresca occupied it make the room seem a bit more open and airy-I liked sitting at the dining bar.
hi kim, Brunswick is a short 20 minute hop away(and has a neat art gallery at the college- for a lunch and adventure afternoon) and this Tao was a fav spot when we dicovered it last year.
In the focus on all in-house made everything, similar in aesthetic to North by Northeast in Cambridge.