Kids’ sports can take you all over the state, but they tend to be in the kind of locations where at best you’re praying for a Dunkin’ to fuel parental caffeine needs. Generally speaking there’s more running than eating, and when eating there it does not tend to the memorable.
But after sitting on the chilly sidelines at a recent fall youth soccer game in Gray (remember fall?), I pointed my wheels toward New Gloucester, eager to try out the New Gloucester Village Store. The building dates from the 1890s, served as the local farmer’s union for years and also had a long run as a convenience store. I’d heard it had been revitalized by owners Sam Coggeshall and Adam Coe, who took it over in 2008, and I had a vague sense that it was some place I needed to go.
But all I really knew was they had pizza. And I had two hungry 10-year-olds in my back seat. And if I had to eat pizza (again) I wanted it to be good pizza.
The atmosphere is seriously enticing from the second you walk into the New Gloucester Village Store, with smells of the aforementioned pies – cooking in a wood oven – as well as homemade breads and soups. I ordered the boys a cheese pizza, commanded them to get their mitts off the excellent selection of chips and local candies (while grabbing some sea salt caramels myself) and studied the loaded sandwich and salad board. Being presented with a wealth of green and fresh options while in the midst of ferrying my child and his friend to a sporting obligation was such a major score I was practically dancing in the village store.
I settled on a bowl of the seafood chowder (soups rotate and the prices vary a bit based on ingredients, my bowl was $5.15, a cup would have been $3.95) and a small Royal River salad (greens, cranberries, goat cheese, walnuts and roasted red pepper). The price was right ($4 and I could have gone big for $6.50). While I waited I wandered into the tidy wine area and in the (brief) time it took them to make our lunch, picked out four or five reasonably priced intriguing bottles of wine. This place seemed designed to meet all of my eating and drinking desires exactly at this moment in time. And as I paid for my wine I noted the select packs of cigarettes next to the cash register; that surprised me, what with the general robust, healthy vibe the place puts out, but then I remembered. It’s a general store and thus supposed to cater to many.
The boys had claimed a seat in the small but comfortable seating area and were debating each other’s soccer prowess. Loudly. I shushed them, although no one seemed to mind – there was another family nearby and a young couple having what looked like a romantic lunch. By this time I was madly in love with the place; great menu filled with local foods prepared creatively but still good for kids?
My salad was dressed with a red wine vinaigrette so well mixed it had turned into a raspberry colored, almost creamy concoction. The combination of the cranberries and goat cheese, tart and creamy, was perfect and the greens themselves, dark and lush, tasted just picked. The chowder had me nervous; I’ve spent too many years away eating disappointing seafood chowders on the West Coast, where often the fish that makes it in to such a dish has a woefully left-over quality. Instead this was the good stuff: white fish, a scallop or two, a shrimp or two and a base that was just the consistency I like, not too thin and milky but also not that gloppy starchy stuff. This was a right chowder. I sighed happily and eyed the boys’ pizza, 16 inches ($10.95), thin crust, cheese nicely browned and the pie already half gone. I decided to taste it. Out of obligation of course. Just to make sure they weren’t suffering. Delicious. The soccer season is over, but for next year, I now have a sparkling new attitude about away games. As long as they’re close to New Gloucester.
WHAT: Fresh wood oven pizza, beautiful salads, homemade soups plus a selection of grocery items and domestic and international wines.
WHERE: 405 Intervale Road, New Gloucester
WHEN: 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Saturday; 7:30 a.m. to 8 p.m Sunday
CONTACT: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 207-926-4224