Boston Globe

Go Big or Go Home No Longer Applies to Dinner in Portland

by Nancy Heiser

PORTLAND, Maine — Small plates have taken hold as a culinary craze in many cities, but in Portland, arguably New England’s small city most revered for food, they are hot, and we’re not talking temperature. Several restaurants that have opened to some acclaim are offering only small plates, and most are doing so in small spaces too. Don’t come expecting full-blown entrées with trimmings.

But you will eat well. Very well. A couple of these restaurants are already on the national map, garnering James Beard Award nominations.
What’s the appeal of small-plate dining? For one thing, you sample a lot of dishes. And with what these chefs are crafting, that should be your goal.

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Lolita Vinoteca + Asador

Why it’s hot: After shuttering their wildly popular Bar Lola, Guy and Stella Hernandez teamed up with business partner Neil Reiter to open this wine bar and grill on Munjoy Hill, showcasing modern American fare with Mediterranean influences. Unlike the multicourse format of Bar Lola, the snack-focused menu at Lolita — decorated to resemble an old-world bodega — is meant to attract a crowd looking for a more casual night out. 

Must-order: Anything cooked in the custom grill, like the wood-roasted clams or bone marrow, and the charcuterie cut in a hand-cranked slicer.

Insider tip: All the cheeses are sourced from New England dairies.

Maine Magazine

Lolita Vinoteca + Asador

By: Joe Ricchio

It is impossible to deny the sensory delight that one experiences upon first stepping through the doors of Lolita Vinoteca and Asador on Munjoy Hill. Warm, pungent aromas of clams and garlic roasting in the wood oven, which is constantly tended to by diligent cooks, is prevalent even amidst the din of patrons stationed up and down the long zinc bar on a busy night. Much of the menu is inspired by the ancient spice routes of Venice, successfully marrying flavors from the Mediterranean, Africa, and the Middle East, resulting in dishes like burrata with lemon zest and Aleppo chili oil on toast, or cured Spanish sardines augmented with harissa. Every detail is seen to, from the Emiliomiti meat slicer that is built to the specifications of vintage models from the early twentieth century, to a delicate network of light fixtures that contribute to the modern feel of the dining room.

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Grill On The Hill

Sparks fly at the East End’s newest hot spot.

Review by Diane Hudson

The open-sesame to Lolita is a simple metal door. Architect Lauren Reiter, whose husband Neil Reiter co-owns Lolita with chef and proprietors Guy and Stella Hernandez, is responsible for the revelation inside. Lighting, colors, and fixtures contribute to a relaxed, elegant experience. There is table seating for 20, with 10 more at the bar.

The centerpiece, an enormous grill roaring with flames (kiln-dried red oak, about a cord a month), is fitted with steel racks that are raised or lowered with a neat little wheel. It’s fascinating to watch and central to Lolita’s experience, “vinoteca + asador”–Spanish for good wine and a specialty in grilling.

Read the full article here.

Portland Magazine