Piccolo’s executive chef, Damian Sansonetti, is chuckling in the background. Despite his efforts, I can hear him over the speakerphone. I’ve just asked his wife, pastry chef Ilma Lopez, what inspired her to put smoked walnuts on a dark chocolate budino ($12) – an addition that pitch-shifts the tones of the custard-like dessert from bittersweet to t...

Eleven local sandwich shops gathered in Portland’s Monument Square late morning Thursday to build what may be the unofficial World’s Largest Maine Italian Sandwich – 160 feet from end to end. Collectively, it took the sandwich makers about 25 minutes to build it, said Gillian Britt, one of the owner/producers of Portland’s Harvest on the Harbor fes...

If you’re a fan of the Maine Italian, head to Monument Square Thursday to get a bite of what is being billed as the World’s Largest Maine Italian Sandwich. At least eight local sandwich shops plan to meet there at 11 a.m. Each will construct 16 feet of its own signature Maine Italian. Together, they hope to construct a finished sandwich that is 144...

Every so often I get a little extra excited about a new restaurant or market, for one reason or another. Like in this case, when I imagine I am jumping up and down, clapping my hands like a little girl and totally embarrassing myself. That’s because soon I may be driving by Monte’s Fine Foods every day, a project that longtime Portland chef Steve Q...

When I opened the door to my Chicago apartment one April evening, I found my neighbor, Francesca, standing there, cradling a dish the size of a truck tire. I recognized it immediately. It was her pasta bowl: white porcelain decorated with tiny painted roses and crazed inside with spidery lines the color of strong tea. Once, the bowl had been her mo...

The Roma Café you remember is gone forever. You should know that from the outset. The original, an Italian-American restaurant that once occupied the lower floors of the Rines mansion in Portland’s West End, had a remarkable run. When its white tablecloths were taken to the laundry for the last time in 2008, the restaurant had been open (and mostly...

Maine is the birthplace of the Italian sandwich. They were first made by John Amato at his shop down on India Street. For the past 45 years, they have been made by Dominic Reali who has also expanded the chain to 42 stores. Mr. Reali is a real Italian himself, having immigrated to the United States in 1955.  Speaking no English, he went to work and...

The owner of Portland Pottery Café at 122 Washington Ave. has applied for a liquor license so the popular breakfast and lunch spot can transform into a casual Italian restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining at night. The café is open from 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Under the new arrangement, hours wi...

Eating at Lazzari, a new pizza restaurant in Portland’s Arts District, I learned a few surprising things. First, you can safely put your hand on the glinting copper dome of their Le Panyol pizza oven, built in Skowhegan from imported blocks of French white clay. Even though the deck routinely reaches 750 degrees F, and the surrounding cavity snorts...

I attended the Sept. 18 City Council meeting that was attempting to eradicate Columbus Day as a city holiday, a proposal sponsored by Councilor Pious Ali. It is true that Native Americans endured many atrocities in the past, and these actions should be rectified, but not at the expense of celebrating our Italian ancestors, who also faced discrimina...