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United States Of Pizza: Maine
Pizza in the state of Maine can mostly be divided into three primary categories: the longstanding local state-wide chains that have been serving pizza to hungry Mainers for generations, Greek-style pizza, and lately, a flowering of upstart, ingredient-focused gourmet pizza.
In most other parts of the country, a Greek pizza might be topped with feta cheese or Kalamata olives; but in New England, the term suggests a crust baked in an oiled pan. The sauce is generally rich with oregano, and the cheese becomes molten. Many Maine purveyors of Greek pizza refer to themselves as a "House of Pizza"—almost every town in Maine has a "House of Pizza," and sometimes two.
After seventy-odd years of pizza in Maine, gourmet pizza has cropped up. The trend began with Portland's Otto, whose gourmet pies are loaded with local ingredients (sometimes in outrageous combinations.) Slowly but surely, this new pizza is sinking its cleats into the sand and expanding, not only in Portland but in the surrounding areas and soon, perhaps, the rest of Maine.
Pat's and Sam's are two statewide chains that inspire both heartfelt loyalty and fierce criticism. Some Mainers have eaten at these places their whole lives and found that nothing else compares; while others say that people who patronize these stores must only be comparing it to microwaved frozen pizza.
Serious Eater Fleur Delabeurre told us that "Pat's Pizza is a real local hotspot, but it hardly qualifies as decent pizza. If you live in Maine, you either hate or love Pat's." Open since 1931, Pat's has thirteen branches. The menus vary, some locations offer kielbasa, eggplant, and capers as topping options.
The menus and websites aren't the only variations: TripAdvisor user Pastalover019 particularly likes the Scarborough location and notes: "Some of the other Pat's locations I have tried do not prepare their pizzas the same way."
Multiple locations throughout the state of Maine.
Sam's Italian Foods
Sam's is another statewide chain with loyal customers (and plenty of haters.) Sam's has huge sandwich menu and lots of pizza options, from breakfast pies to barbecue steak pizza (and gluten-free options for celiacs.)
Multiple locations throughout the state of Maine
Where to Eat Pizza in Portland
Otto opened up on Portland's Congress Street. in June 2010. It gained quick local notoriety with pizzas topped with white beans and roasted tomatoes and others topped with apples, bacon, and red onion. Otto now has two locations and will be opening a third soon.
Steve Jermanok of Boston.com raved about Otto's in a recent review:
The reviewers at the Portland Press Herald recommended the mashed potato bacon slice:
Walk into the small shop, not far from the Portland Museum of Art, and grab whatever pie just came out of the oven. It's all good, from the crunchy crust on the oversized slice, to the blend of mozzarella, romano, asiago, and fontina cheeses, to the unique combinations of toppings.
The mashed potato blended perfectly with the cheese, making for a creamy, harmonious taste. The pieces of bacon were real, not bacon bits, and there were also scallions to add zip.
The huge $3 slices are the focus, but custom-topped full pies are available, too.
576 Congress Street, Portland, ME 04101; 207-773-7099 or 225 Congress Street, Portland ME; 207-358-7870; ottoportland.com
Italian grocer and restaurant supplier Micucci's has a hidden bakery that serves some of the state's most revered slices. Finding 'The Sicilian Slab' requires a little perseverance—it's tucked in the back of the store, and often requires at least a short wait. Serious Eats overlord Ed Levine reports:
There's something amazing about foodstuffs made and sold in the back of stores, so we were predisposed to like the bread/pizza sold at a window tucked into the back of Micucci's, the go-to place for Italian groceries and foodstuffs in Portland. But we weren't prepared for how delicious and unusual both breads would turn out to be. Rick Micucci and his wife Anna run the shop that his parents opened more than fifty years ago, and recently added a bakery, serving something like Sicilian pizza. From mid-morning on, you'll find these slices hot from the oven; there's clearly olive oil added to the dough, and it's blanketed with aged mozzarella and a little bit of fresh tomato sauce.
45 India St, Portland, ME 04101; 207-775-1854
Local favorite Angelone's has several locations throughout the Portland area. The dimly lit restaurant has an extremely pizza-centric menu; no subs or pasta here. The lunch reviewer for mainetoday.com wrote:
The large [pizza] passed an important litmus test I have...the mushrooms were fresh...The crust on both was wonderfully crisp on the outside and doughy on the inside and not too thick...The sauce was tangy and tasty as well. Angelone's seems like a throwback with its simplicity. And it is. The Angelone family opened Portland's first pizza place on Veranda Street in 1947. This was a time when few American's knew exactly what pizza was, or even how to pronounce it.
788 Washington Avenue, Portland, ME 04103; 207-775-3114, 768 Main Street, Westbook, ME 04092; 207-854-9122, Broadway Street, South Portland, ME 04106; 207- 799-1551
Ricetta's Brick Oven Pizza
Ricetta's claims they've won the Sunday Telegram Readers Poll's "Best Pizza in Maine" title in the every year since 1990. Serious Eater Fleur Delabeurre says "the wood-fired pizza they serve up is phenomenal," though Serious Eater kmgagne disagrees, saying "Ricetta's crust always sogs out." The lunch buffet is popular, and dessert pizzas are available in addition to savory wood-fired pizza choices including a pepperoni, fried eggplant, and hot cherry pepper pie, and another topped with homemade hot sausage, peppers and onions.
29 Western Ave, South Portland, ME 04106; 207-775-7400; 240 US Route 1, Falmouth, ME 04105; 207-781-3100, and 67 Portland Road, Kennebunk, ME 04043; 207- 985-9855; ricettas.com
Bonobo Wood Fired Pizza
Bonobo may have the most adventurous toppings of the new Portland pizzerias. N.L. English of The Portland Press Herald recently enjoyed a few of the pies:
One night's special ($14), with pulled, barbecued pork and cheddar, delivers its unique mix of smoke and salt with every bite. The delectable Verde ($15) offers pesto, spinach, tender leeks and roasted onions, and little white pools of creamy ricotta set on top of firm, chewy crust...The Marley ($16) grooves along with Jamaican jerk chicken, sausage, roasted red peppers and onions, sauce and cheddar.
English writes that Bonobo's pizza is "thin-crusted and covered with good ingredients. If there was just a little less of those ingredients on top of the pies, I'd be happier."
46 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102; 207-347-8267; bonobopizza.com
Portland has more pizza options, too. A few places on our radar include Bill's Pizza (177 Commercial Street, Portland, ME 04101; 207-774-6166); Amato's Sandwich Shops (multiple locations); Portland Pie Co. (multiple locations); Flatbread Company (72 Commercial St #5, Portland, ME 04101; 207-772-8777); Howie's Pub (501 Washington Avenue, Portland, ME 04103; 207-347-7107)
Where to Eat Pizza in Biddeford, Saco, and Freeport
Pizza By Alex
For over 50 years Pizza By Alex has been a Biddeford local favorite. No slices are served, but the pies are just slightly larger than a individual serving. The cheese blend includes some cheddar in the mix. Many of Alex's customers are lifelong— one Yahoolocal community member, Rock, says he's had Pizza by Alex pies "overnighted to Texas for special occasions."
Rock's not the only fan. TripAdvisor user Thajellybean writes:
I have been enjoying Pizza by Alex since I was a toddler, [it's] my mother's favorite and has been since before I was born and now I bring my daughter as it's her favorite, too! Friends and family that have moved away always say how much they miss this pizza and are sure to pick one up when in town! It's not only the best pizza but a tradition for anyone who has grown up around here!!
93 Alfred Street, Biddeford, ME 04005; 207-283-0002
Siano's in Freeport and Portland garners some praise from pizza fans. Amber Olesen of The Portland Press Herald wrote that she was: "delighted with the quality sauce and crispy, wood-oven baked crust" at the Old Port location.
140 Main Street, Freeport, ME 04032; 207-865-9665
Serious Eater kmgagne also recommends the Greek pizza at Para's Pizza (locations in Saco, Sanford, Wells, and York.)
Where to Eat Pizza in Brunswick, Bath, and Falmouth
Falmouth House of Pizza
The Falmouth House Of Pizza is a family-friendly restaurant that serves Greek-style pizza (and tasty salads). Tripadvisor user Wasras says that the Falmouth House of Pizza "tends to be busy and noisy in the evening, so no one notices my kids being busy and noisy." Another Tripadvisor user, Mainescape, agrees: "There's nothing fancy here, just your local, hometown pizza place...While it's clean, and the owners are friendly, the focus is on quantity, not quality. When the kids are hungry and fussy, this is where you want to head...Try their BBQ/Onion pizza—it's excellent!"
251 US Route 1, Falmouth, ME 04105; 207-781-5251; falmouthhouseofpizza.com
Flipside is part of the new class of gourmet pizzerias, serving pies topped with a wide variety of locally-sourced toppings including sweet potatoes, kale, beets, butternut squash, fresh clams, and nitrate-free maple-cured bacon. The staff of The Portland Press Herald praised the basil ricotta pizza, and one topped with buttercup squash, fennel ,and roast tomato pesto. Chowhound user the_MU gave the crust high marks:
The crust was crisp, thinnish, but sturdy enough to hold up the judiciously applied toppings. The one criticism I might have is that the combinations each seemed to have one more ingredient than they needed. In mine, the radicchio kind of got lost, and was a very subtle background to the gamy cured sausage. I also would've liked slightly more sauce, but that might've compromised the really excellent texture and structure of the pie.
Flipside's owners also own a Mexican restaurant in Brunswick that features local, organic ingredients.
111 Maine Street, Brunswick, ME 04011; 207-383-9448
Where to Eat Pizza in Lewiston
Luiggi's Pizzeria has been serving ham-topped pizzas to the town of Lewiston for almost 60 years. Yelper Paul S. says "Their pizzas are thin crust and very good. The one wrinkle is that all pizzas come with ham on them unless you ask for it to be omitted."
63 Sabattus Street, Lewiston, ME 04240; 207-782-0701; luiggispizzeria.com
Where to Eat Pizza in Augusta
Rooster's Coal Fired Pizza and Tap House
Rooster's claims have the first coal-burning restaurant oven in Maine, and advertises their use of San Marzano tomatoes and Grande cheese. Chowhounder Tamerlanenj wrote a pretty positive report:
The crust texture is great, with the classic spots of char you'd expect from a coal burner, and that almost physically impossible pliable crispness you always hope for from a nice hot oven. Not much in the way of tip sag. Not too thick, not too thin. I'd say it compares favorably on crust texture to places like Grimaldis, Totonnos, or Lombardis. In fact, this is better crust than I had at my last (abysmal) trip to Patsy's in East Harlem. That being said, the flavor is not all there. Everything, from the crust, to the sauce, to the cheese, just tasted underseasoned.
Where to Eat Pizza in Bangor, Bar Harbor, and Ellsworth
Maine's third most populous city is almost a pizza wasteland. Since the closing of the Bangor House of Pizza late last year, locals have relied on national chains and a couple of privately owned pizza shops. Spanky's Pizza on Walter Street is one of the last bastions of hope for a credible pie in northeastern Maine. Yahoolocal userSamantha writes:
I've been getting Spanky's Pizza since I can remember, way back when my parents would bring it home for dinner. Now I bring it home for my family, and my own daughter (and husband!) love it just as much!...Great food, awesome prices and, of course, owned and operated by LOCAL PEOPLE!
4 Walter Street, Bangor, ME 04401; 207-941-8626
Geddy's in Bar Harbor serves mostly seafood-focused dishes, but three pages into the menu you can find 12-inch pizzas, including a chorizo, pepper, and onion pie and the "Lobsta Newburg" topped with lobster meat, mushrooms, scallions, and cheese. Yelper Matt R. warns: "It looks like the most ridiculous tourist trap in the world, totally cheese ball. But much to my shock, they have great food...The pizza here is incredible. Very good crispy crust."
19 Main Street, Bar Harbor, ME 04609; 207-288-5077; geddys.com
Finelli New York Pizzeria
Chowhounder Passadumkeg says Finelli's is "maybe the best NY style pizza in the state". In 2005, The Bangor Daily News crowned Finelli's the best pizza in Downeast Maine by an almost a 3-to-1 margin.
12 Downeast Highway, Ellsworth, ME 04605; 207-664-0230; finellipizzeria.com
Add Your Favorites!
As usual, this guide is just a start. Slice'rs, help us out: where else can you get a good piece of pizza in the Pine Tree State? Let us know in the comments.
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