Another Bayside winner near the Post Office.
Review by Diane Hudson
Snappy new Isa boasts original metal ceilings, gorgeous wainscoting, and classic black and white mosaic tile floors. Thirsty for a deal as well as an intimate bottle of wine, we choose the Lechthaler Pinot Noir (Trentino, Italy, 2012, $8), a good medium-bodied red that quietly sets the evening in motion.
Braised local rabbit ($14) puts us on the hunt and hints of wonders to follow. Sweet, moist slices of tender meat bathe in a delectable olive salsa, with carrots and Appaloosa beans. This could be a main course it’s so good. We also try terrific French green lentils ($6) lovingly cooked in pork fat and served over a bed of grilled kale.
Add to this the Standard Baking sourdough bread and excellent olive oil for dipping–who needs more?
Foraging on in the eclectic, 20-item menu, we find a treat in Isa’s unique bolognese ($16). It’s served with delicious al dente tagliatelle, a splash of Maine Beer Company’s Mean Old Tom, and topped with a festive crown of shaved fennel and pecorino.
We’re informed the pan-seared monkfish ($22) is sold out, but we take the loss in stride as we happily devour an incomparable bistro steak ($22). Intensely flavorful, thin slices of perfectly cooked medium-rare beef dazzle against a feisty green peppercorn sauce. Crispy fingerling potatoes sporting a dusting of pecorino and a refreshing salad of fresh greens and radishes make a perfect accompaniment.
The best sweet ending is a small jar of homemade custard with blackberry topping. Leaving with a feeling of great satisfaction, we inquire about the name Isa. Co-owner Suzie St. Pierre informs us it’s named for her husband, chef Isaul Perez. n
Isa, 79 Portland St., Portland. Mon-Thurs, 11-9:30; Sat, 5:30-10; Sun, 5:30-9:30; Tues, Closed. 808-8533, isaportland.com