A great dessert finishes off a restaurant meal with a flourish. These five restaurants offer sweet endings that are well worth the extra calories.
58 Pine St., Portland | 772-1110 | $$$
This cozy neighborhood restaurant prides itself on using local farm-fresh produce and fish. The menu changes regularly. Sunday brunch is especially popular. A custom-built bar and handcrafted wooden tables contribute to Caiola’s warm atmosphere and in the warmer months, the outdoor patio feels like a secret retreat. The dessert menu features offerings that are seasonal, beautifully presented and often accompanied by homemade ice creams.
111 Middle St., Portland | 747-5307 | piccolomaine.com | $$$
For authentic southern Italian cooking, elegantly and simply prepared, Piccolo offers an outstanding dining experience in a small, casual café setting. The menu changes daily, but best dishes include any of the pastas, pork, lamb and fish preparations. When available, the slow-baked fish with potatoes cooked in whey is a standout, as is the brined sardines and cavatelli with lamb ragu. The outstanding, inventive desserts are made by pastry chef and co-proprietor Ilma Lopez.
525 Ocean House Rd., Cape Elizabeth | 799-4663 | thegoodtablerestaurant.net | $$$
Cape Elizabeth locals gather here all year long, joined by visitors during the summer months. The dinner menu is a mix of Maine and Greek food with everything from steamed lobster to spanakopita. Cakes, pies, bread puddings and other desserts displayed on a sideboard in the dining room, are as homey and enticing as you would expect in such a family friendly environment.
288 Fore St., Portland | 775-2717 | forestreet.biz | $$$$
One of Portland’s best-known restaurants, Fore Street focuses on regional cuisine with fresh ingredients delivered daily by local farmers, foragers and fishmongers. Ingredients such as hand-picked diver scallops and island-raised lamb are cooked over hardwood and applewood fires under the supervision of Chef Sam Hayward, winner of the 2004 James Beard award for Best Chef, Northeast. Pastry chef Brant Dadaleares applies the same care to desserts, which feature seasonal ingredients prepared in creative ways.
43 Wharf St., Portland | 899-4494 | $$
For Gallic culture and food, try this warm, friendly space when Quebec is too far to drive. Crepe enthusiasts will love the area’s only dedicated creperie, and the Merry Table also delivers excellent French classics in a cozy and rustic space. The regular desserts selection includes the classic crepes Suzette, as well as crepes filled with Nutella, chocolate, or fresh berries and mascarpone cheese.
The approximate cost of two dinner entrees (not including appetizers, drinks, tax and gratuity).
$ – $15 and under
$$ – $16 to $25
$$$ – $26 to $45
$$$$ – $46 and up