South Portland’s Enio’s Eatery opened in 2013 when co-owners Robert and Laura Butler who previously owned Rachel’s in Portland came back from a brief stay in Florida to open another restaurant. My wife and I often pass by and smell the odor of delightful Italian food. When she suggested a visit I figured it was as good a time as any to see if the food was actually delicious or if they were just pumping out aural emanations of the finest kind while serving up mediocre meals.
We made reservations and arrived at the predetermined time. The restaurant was small with a few tables, a typical bar, and a bar/shelf/table that ran the full length of the restaurant and looked out the window to the street. It was an unusual set-up but definitely gave a quaint neighborhood feel that I found appealing. We were given a choice of where to sit – minus a few seats that were already reserved – and decided to sit at the bar.
I had previously viewed the menu that was online, but when I received the one at the restaurant, it was somewhat different. I started to peruse it. While I did so, the bartender/owner took our drink orders. My wife ordered wine and asked for some bread – which is served by request – and I passed on another beverage in favor of my water. We were also given a few specials, but none of them piqued my interest. They sounded good, but the menu items looked like they were the catch of the night for me.
The first thing on the menu were jars and grilled bread – essentially a jar of spread with some delicious bread. After a brief look at the menu though, I was set on a starter of either bruschetta or buffalo mozzarella. I asked the ol’ ball and chain if she wanted to share one and she responded in the affirmative. We decided on the Imported Bufula Mozzarella – roasted tomato confit, basil, balsamic drizzle, fett’unta. I let her think it was her decision, but I wanted that anyway. I grinned a bit at the thought of some cheese love and moved on to choosing the next part of my meal.
Entrees on the menu came in the form of pasta or wood grilled items. I don’t usually order pasta when I go out, but I was at an Italian restaurant and had a bit of a hankering for the carbohydrate confetti. After considering a few items, the one that finally caught my eye was handmade cavatelli with rapini, braised house made sausage, and marsalla wine. The sausage sold me on the dish as did the handmade pasta though I was a little nervous about the rapini due to my dislike of cooked, leafy greens. I knew it was the one for me though. Mrs. Portlandeater went with the braised chicken with pasta in a light, creamy tomato broth with peas, mushrooms, and carrots.
My wife’s wine made an appearance and so did our bread. The bread was delicious with a little olive oil drizzled on some salt and pepper. I ate way too much of that while I sipped water and my wife sipped wine. We anxiously awaited our starter and spoke of things better left unsaid. Once we said the things that were better left unsaid, we finished our bread and were hulking up for the meal that was about to arrive.
It didn’t take long at all for the mozz to come out. In fact, the service was downright prompt. It looked great and smelled even better. There were four fett’unta or “toasted bread of considerable heft” as I preferred calling them. The tomato confit was laced with garlicky goodness. The cheese was colored by balsamic. I was drooling. I grabbed a slice of the bread and proceeded to smash both the tomato and mozzarella onto it in a fit of excitement. After proper smashing was completed, I proceeded to place a bite into my buffalo mozzarella hole and see where it took me. By the gods of grassy knolls and interweb trolls! This was magnificent. As my wife mumbled something about “best thing I’ve eaten in a long time”, I tried to shove the crunchy, sweet, ultra garlicky concoction with just the right amount of acidity into my face. It was pure joy and by far the best buffalo mozzarella I ever laid my mouth upon.
After gorging on the good stuff, we awaited our meals, incredibly pleased with what we had eaten so far. It was quicker than we expected when we received our main courses. Like our appetizer, they looked and smelled great. Both dishes came garnished with some sprinkled cheese and green onion. All ingredients in the dishes were well represented. I picked up my fork and tried a bite. The cavatelli was deliciously doughy – just how I like it. The sauce was excellent and the sausage was superb – not particularly spicy, but well seasoned and definitely accessible to all tastes. I didn’t love the rapini, as expected, but I did eat some and pushed the rest aside so I could focus on the other awesome parts of the dish.
As I stuffed my face with reckless abandon, my wife kept offering me part of her food which she insisted was excellent. When I finally finished my meal, I dug into hers. I got a bite of pasta, chicken, and vegetables. Holy holy, holy sheet! It was righteously cheesy, blissfully buttery, and compellingly creamy. The chicken was more tender than the sweetest little newborn baby asleep and curled up next to a puppy. This was a masterpiece of pastanomic proportions. I had several bites and declared that I was finished. Wow.
Happiness was already pouring out of me, but I figured I could possibly squeeze in some dessert. We checked on the options at the restaurant which sounded great, but we already had dessert waiting for us at home in the form of Mrs. Portlandeater’s master baking. We passed on the sweet stuff and asked for the bill. Including tax and tip, the meal came to 83 smackers. It was well worth it. The meal was really outstanding and this is definitely a place I will go back to. I loved the neighborhood feel, the atmosphere, and of course, the food. Check them out! You won’t be disappointed unless you have mutant tastebuds.
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