The wife and I had a very nice meal at Emilitsa last night, the overall impression of which is that I am tantalized by the possibilities and really excited to go back.
The evening started with us being basically laughed out of Bresca attempting to walk-in at 5:30 (not unexpected). However, our fallback plan of Emilitsa was able to accommodate us immediately. Although it was fairly empty for most of the 6 o'clock hour, by the time we left at 7 they were jammed. The interior is quite attractive...small but not cramped, with lovely exposed brick, a cute little bar, and simple decor. Sorry, I don't have much of a memory for decor, but I remember enjoying the ambiance.
Dinner started with w wonderful Fraoch scottish Ale for me which knocked my socks off, and an amuse of crostinis with a house made hummus, feta, and olive oil. Delightful snacking as we perused the menu. My wife had one of the Greek reds although, shame of shames, neither of us can remember which.
So many of the appetizers looked good that we considered foregoing entrees and opting for a tapas style meal. Ultimately, we settled on two: the octopus and the house made sausages in tomato and cinnamon. The octopus was dressed with balsamic vinegar, olive oil, and black pepper...delicious, tender octopus...perhaps the best I've had. The sausages were somewhat disappointing. Uncased, they were really more like long meatballs. I found them a bit dry, and the sauce, while tasty, was lukewarm at the start and cold after a couple of minutes. Was this on purpose? Not sure...
For entrees, my wife had the whole fish, deboned tableside. Fun, dramatic service: although the skill our waiter left a tiny bit to be desired when both of us caught bones in our first bites. Not too big of a deal: the fish was delicious and moist with nothing but lemon and olive oil. A picture is attached below.
I had the braised lamb with olives, pearl onions, and feta over parpadelle. Delicious, hearty comfort food...great for a still cold Portland March day. One might, I suppose, finger it as slightly bland, but the secret is to crumble the feta over the top so that you get a bit in each bite. Delicious.
Dessert was a baklava type thing that was orange flavored. Again, apologies for not taking better note of the name. My Greek in nonexistent. Good but nothing too special. I think I'd opt for the regular baklava next time, which looked heavenly.
The reason I so excited to come back is because so much on the menu looked delicious...and indeed, other tables ordered the lamb chops which looked OUT of this world and caused immediate order-envy upon arrival. Don't get me wrong, our meal was great...but this would be a great place to come with a large group so that lots of things can be ordered and shared.
All in all, Emilitsa is the kind of restaurant that makes Portland a marvel. It would easily stand out in Astoria.
111 Middle Street, Portland, ME 04101
Emilitsa Greek Restaurant
547 Congress St, Portland, ME 04101