Thanks to all who posted suggestions as to where I could chow down pre-marathon. My first choice was Rachel's Osteria. I first spoke with the staff at Rachel's and they were very accomodating. I like to have homemade pasta (preferably with ragu sauce) prior to a race and they were willing to make it for me. However, I oversold the place and about 15 other friends/runners wanted to join me. Unfortunately, Rachel's couldn't accomadate that many hungry runners. So, back up plan... Soffrito's.
I called Soffrito's and they were so excited and accomodating. The GM called me the next day to see if I wanted any specials for the menu, anything extra carby. I was tempted, but they don't make their own pasta and the pastas on the web page looked tasty. But I was impressed by the gesture.
So, they sat 16 of us in the downstairs room. It was semi-private. Besides our party, there were approximately 3 other tables there. The waiter was a little spacey and hyper. He was the one weak link of the experience. He couldn't keep up with the water or bread. He kept forgetting stuff. For example, he said he would bring down the bread. He came down for something else, no bread. We would ask him, and then he would get the "oh yeah" look in his eyes. He also never let the table know that there were specials. After we had ordered, we found the sheets underneath the menus on the table. He wasn't snippy or rude, just spacey.
The bread was ok. I had high expectations looking at the loaf. But, it was ordinary white bread. But the dipping sauce was excellent. Olive oil, fresh herbs and a little bit of balsamic. Too bad the dipping medium was mediocre.
But the food was perfect for our needs. My friend and I started off with the calamari. Perfectly cooked, but it had cooled down slightly before it reached the table. Someone else ordered the mussels and they were also delicious. The simple salads that come with the entrees were fresh and crisp with a simple dressing. What was nice was that they were not overdressed.
I ordered the Seafood Scampi over linguine. The menu on the web site is a little dated. I did have my heart set on the linguine with white clam sauce. It wasn't on the current menu. But I made do with the scampi. I also requested that the chef to leave out the shrimp and to spice it up. It was delicious. There were 3 giant scallops that were perfectly cooked as well as squid and mussels. What was nice about the squid that it was comprised of mostly tentacles, which are my favorite. It was also a good size portion. I couldn't finish it and had it wrapped to go. It tasted great the next day too. The sauce had soaked into everything.
Other people had pasta with the giant meatball (about 6 oz. Picture an average person's fist). For some reason, that meatball cracked me up. Another nice touch, some people split entrees. The chef split the entrees onto two separate plates. Overall, I think everyone in the party was satisfied and satiated.
The pacing of the dinner was good. A little slow in the beginning which is to be expected with a party that large. No dessert was ordered so I can't comment on that.
All in all, a big thumbs up. I would recommend this restaurant for dinner outside of a carbo load.
BTW, the Maine Marathon was excellent. The weather was perfect and the spectators were fantastic. I was impressed with everything about Portland (it was my first visit). The race itself was well organized with deceptive rolling hills. But it was gorgeous. So for the chow runners, this race has a relay, half and full marathon. But most of all, I was impressed with how nice everyone was. This goes from making reservations at the restaurants to the race organizers to the race volunteers to the race spectators. The motto of the Maine Marathon is "the way a marathon should be." And, I can't disagree with that statement.
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