PORTLAND, Maine — Spring is finally doing its thing in the city. Birds are whistling and chattering in the trees. Brush-tailed squirrels are roaming Deering Oaks in search of last year’s hidden nuts.
Tulips and daffodils are filling eyeballs everywhere you look, and the breeze is taking on a definite whiff of purple lilac, May’s singular scent.
Also filling the senses this season are some new Portland eateries and a couple old favorites, reopening after a rest.
Roll Call, in the Public Market House at 28 Monument Square
Formerly a mobile food cart, this new lunch purveyor is now located on the first floor of the market house, near Mr. Tuna. Specializing in food found between two pieces of bread, Roll Call serves customers Wednesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m.
Among other items found on the menu, hungry patrons can order roast beef au jus on an onion roll with horseradish and mustard for $9 or a Buffalo soy sandwich featuring soy curd, gorgonzola cheese, slaw and iceberg lettuce for $12.
If you have a hankering to go breadless, try the kale salad with buttermilk-tahini ranch and pepitas.
Browne Trading, 262 Commercial St.
This waterfront staple has long provided city shoppers with upscale seafood and caviar and now they’re also serving takeout lunch, Tuesday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
According to Browne Trading’s Instagram page, they’ll soon be adding outdoor seating as well.
On the menu currently are fishy treats including Asian-inspired tuna tartare with pickled ginger and spicy rice for $18, a smoked salmon BLT with pickled onions on rye for $19 and a squid and edamame parfait with shredded nori and dressing for $15.
They’ll also be adding daily specials soon, according to its Instagram.
Tandem Coffee Roasters, 122 Anderson St.
This city coffeehouse, famous for its lack of wifi, closed for renovations and for COVID-19 safety a while ago but is about to open again. Tandem’s other, larger location on Congress Street remained open, albeit with pandemic restrictions.
Dubbed “Little Tandem,” this location’s doors will swing wide on Tuesday, and will serve folks Tuesday through Saturday, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The Anderson Street location is where Tandem roasts its coffee, and the Congress Street building is where the baking happens. Both coffee and baked goods will be available at both locations. Wifi still won’t.
Casa Novello, 694 Main St., Westbrook
Although not in Portland, this long-time neighborhood Italian restaurant and high school prom destination deserves a mention here.
In April, Casa Novello closed, bumming out many locals.
“We are sad to say that the legacy of Casa Novello has ended,” restaurant management posted on social media. “We appreciate all of your support and will miss you all. We are closed due to staffing issues.”
After an outpouring of love on Facebook, the situation looked like it might not be permanent.
“We appreciate all of your comments. We have been trying to find staff for over eight months,” someone on the staff posted. “I have called schools, friends, told customers tried everything. We are hoping for a miracle.”
Then, the miracle wished for, finally occurred. Casa Novello announced it would reopen on May 3.
“I cannot thank all of you for the overwhelming support and love we received,” management posted on social media. We are so looking forward to celebrating with all of you.”
Customers are once again enjoying all the Italian-American favorites they were missing, like chicken Florentine for $26, four-cheese lasagna for $20 and shrimp scampi for $27.
Casa Novella is open Tuesday through Saturday, starting at 4 p.m.