A proven winner triumphs in the Lower Village in the Kennebunks.
Review by Diane Hudson
Restaurateur Sante Calandri made the first Ports of Italy the go-to restaurant in Boothbay Harbor, and now he takes on Kennebunk, razing the former’s Bartley’s Dockside Restaurant and completely transforming the spot, with no expense spared, into an elegant dining space with a warm and inviting bar.
Our server suggests a Bellini, and the pretty prosecco/peach affair is just the ticket to start us off as we peruse the menu and wine list. Seeking a robust red, we find Avignonesi Noble de Montepulciano, 2011, $58.
Daily specials–an absolute must here–are lovingly prepared by co-owner and chef German Lucarelli. Carciofi alla Romana (Roman-style artichoke, $11) is a rare delicacy deliciously prepared with garlic, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and fresh mint. Frittelle di Fiori di Zucca ($14)–zucchini blossoms stuffed with taleggio, mozzarella, and anchovies–are fried to perfection. Bellissimo!
We enjoy homemade focaccia and ciabatta dipped in extra virgin olive oil flecked with bits of kalamata olives in a stunning sauce. Tender local mussels (Cozze, $13) excite with sambuca, lobster bisque, cherry tomatoes, basil, and dill.
Next up, Cavatelli ($21), terrific pasta dumplings made with fresh ricotta and parmesan cheese, with Italian sausage made at Shields, the town butcher, that is braised with garlic, broccolini, basil, and veal stock.
Shields also supplies the Berkshire pork belly skin surrounding the Porchetta ($23), delicious roasted suckling pig seasoned with fresh herbs and fennel seeds, the whole served with patatas al forno (roasted potatoes) and roasted vegetables.
The sweet ending is one fine Tiramisu della Nonna ($9) with mascarpone and Marsala wine; and Panna Cotta al Frutti della Stagione ($8), velvety smooth custard served with luscious raspberries and blueberries.
Kennebunk’s “Ports” sizzles with the same success enjoyed by the ambitious, creative Calandri at his first endeavor.
Ports of Italy, The Kennebunks, 4 Western Ave., Kennebunk. Mon-Sun, 12pm-10pm, 204-0365, portsofitaly.com