Our mostly-walking tour begins at Terra Cotta, a gourmet market and take-out mecca saving busy people from Ramen and Lean Cuisine one delectable meal at a time. The menu features handmade pastas and prepared foods like lasagna, alfredo, picatta and parmegiano, plus creative veggie-driven indulgences like eggplant napoleons. Tasting is encouraged — we sample velvety balsamic vinegar and dark green olive oil.
We pop into a refurbished gas station just up the road to find beloved Otto’s Pizza. The butternut squash, ricotta & cranberry pizza, above, tastes just as good across the bridge as it does downtown. The potato-rosemary is also a bridge-worthy favorite. Otto-SoPo’s filling-station ambiance is hip and retro, and it’s fun to sit semi-outside with the “garage bays” rolled up.
Across the road is Elsemere BBQ with tasty pulled pork, chicken and brisket. My clever daughter theorizes that barbecue is perfect recession food — flavorful, abundant, feeds a family. I would add that it’s satisfying and decadent — right up my alley. Elsemere’s creators, native Mainers, have nailed recession-buster fare beautifully — a great addition to the So-Po strip.
Or settle in for a wine-soaked dinner at Enio’s (formerly Rachel’s in Old Port and Woodfords incarnations). Owners Bob and Laura Butler have created a familiar yet surprising menu. Don’t miss the silky chicken liver in a jar. Their calamari sauté is my long-time go-to — comforting, and cheaper than a therapist. Laura’s orecchiette with sausage is generous and robust. Bob’s a real “wine guy” and delights in sharing his savvy, table side — he is the relaxed, anti-sommelier. I am so glad this dynamic duo is back! •