It pains me to write this review of one of my favorite restaurants in Portland. In the past few years, I've always enjoyed the food at Caiola's and have recommended the restaurant to a number of friends. However, a recent dinner on Thursday night was a below par. It started well, as our party of 8 was seated on time in the "back room". Appetizers were lobster bisque and caesar salad with fried oysters. The bisque was an odd color, more of a yellow-brown, and had little lobster flavor. The salad was marred by seriously over fried (dark brown) oysters that had a rubbery texture, and again, no flavor.
Several entrees were ordered; scallop risotto, chicken marsala, Caiola's burger, paella and zuppa de pesce. The scallops (3 medium) in a very small amount of rice were tasty, but for $25, seemed a bit of a rip-off. The paella suffered from some tired mussels that were past their prime, an over-cooked shrimp and chicken that was more bones than meat. The amount of rice was again pretty skimpy. Chicken marsala was overly sweet and would have benefited from some acid to balance the almost candy-like taste. Zuppa de pesce was good, but after the first round of bread, our waitress informed us that the kitchen had run out of bread and offered some toasted croutons as a substitute, so there was no way to mop-up the tasty sauce. The burger, I'm happy to report, was fine, as usual. We passed on dessert as we had a freshly baked peach cobbler at home. The tab was $308, including the 20% tip added for our convenience for 3 apps, 8 entrees, 2 glasses of wine and 3 cocktails. An off night perhaps, or has the restaurant lost it's edge?
58 Pine St, Portland, ME 04102