Our party of five ate at Caiola's this past Saturday and the meal was nothing short of five stars. For me, Caiola's is now the best quality/price restaurant in Portland if not the best restaurant in Portland.
With five people we started with the table antipasti plate and its assortment of small bites was delicious - perhaps the single best dish I have had in recent memory. The curried sweet potato chunks, the chipotle chicken chunks and the three cured meats were the top table favorites but every one of the over 10 items on the plate were winners. At under $15 dollars, the plate is an appropriate metaphor for the value you get at Caiola's.
Four of the five entrees reflected the Mediterranean flavor of Caiola's. My son's paella - requested with no seafood - was tasty and copious; my wife's Branzino, served whole, was moist and full of flavor. (My daughter treated herself to the fish head which was full of succulent meat). My daughter had a lightly dressed lettuce salad and cheese plate for her entree. And her boyfriend had Zuppa di Pesce which contained at least 20 pieces of fish and shellfish in a bread soaking worthy lobster/tomato broth. Only my entree deviated from this tour around the Mediterranean Sea: I had the meatloaf - a combo of hanger steak and pork - which had a delicious beefy flavor. The broccoli rabe and mashed potatoes rounded out the plate.
All of this plus one glass of wine, two teas and one dessert ran under $175 including tax and tip.
No restaurant in Portland can match the quality of the food we had for the price we paid. In my opinion, Caiola's must now be on everyone's restaurant shortlist to eat at when dining in Portland.
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