Paciarino: Authentic Italian Dining in Portland, Maine

You nibble on a delectable assortment of crunchy crostini that whet your appetite for more. The tantalizing aroma of a fresh, homemade pasta dish surrounds you as your main course arrives. A lovely bottle of Pinot Grigio accompanies your meal. You must be in Italy.

No. You're in Portland, Maine, and you're at Paciarino

Since 2008, owners Fabiana de Savino and Enrico Barbiero have been bringing the authentic flavors of their native Milan to lucky diners in Maine. They've also received glowing write-ups in The New York Times, Down East, The Boston Globe, and Portland Monthly. When you experience Paciarino's expertly prepared Italian cuisine, served in a friendly, casual atmosphere, you'll understand why.

My most recent dinner there with my sister and brother-in-law was fantastic, as usual. We started with the Crostini all'Italiana: Thinly sliced baguettes, toasted and topped with a variety of scrumptious vegetarian toppings and tapenades (succulent zucchini, salty olives, and sweet roasted red peppers, among others). For the main course, we're all in love with the goat cheese ravioli al Pomodoro: Homemade ravioli stuffed with luscious, tangy goat cheese, sweet, caramelized Vidalia onions, and a hint of sage. Top them with Paciarino's fresh, traditional tomato sauce, nutty, savory parmesan cheese, and extra-virgin olive oil, and you have heaven on a plate. My sister couldn't resist it. This time, however, my brother-in-law and I were tempted by one of the specials: Homemade fusilli topped with cherry tomatoes, sweet, slightly salty Italian sausage, and, of course, more parmesan and extra-virgin olive oil. Divine! The portion sizes here are very generous, so the three of us always have fun sharing. Try to save some room for a decadent serving of vanilla gelato topped with strawberries and balsamic cream of Modena. You'll be glad you did.

If you can't make it all the way to Milan, having dinner at Paciarino is the next best choice, and a great value to boot. Ciao! 

Gina CrisciComment