George

Bethel and Belfast impress us with lots of community-wide events that entertain both tourists and local residents. Bethel offers stunning views of the mountains, while Belfast gives us those ocean views we just can’t get enough of.

In early October we were drawn to Belfast for the weekend-long Farm and Art Tour, organized by the Belfast Creative Coalition.

Our “home” in Belfast is the Fireside Inn & Suites where every room overlooks the ocean. Ours had a relaxing massage chair and gas fireplace with an outside deck where we lingered enjoying the cool fall air, colorful trees and blue ocean water.

Our evening dinner transported us across the ocean to Italy, another favorite place. The wine list at Delvino’s Grill and Pasta House includes many of our favorite Italian wines. The lengthy menu includes many of our favorite Italian dishes plus some unusual and creative ones from Chef Jake Grass.

Our exceptionally helpful server, Natalia, a singer and musician, moved here from San Francisco with her boyfriend who grew up in Waldo County. She recommended the Mushroom Sacchetti ($15.99), and I am indebted to her for that.

The dish included wild porcini and roasted portabella mushrooms blended with five cheeses, wrapped in fresh pasta and drizzled with peppered mushroom cream sauce. I got a compliment from Linda for not ordering a meat dish. “Look at you, honey,” she exclaimed. “Going vegetarian!” Well, please don’t tell my hunting buddies.

I have to say, this was one of the tastiest entrees I’ve ever had. The deep mushroom flavor was delicious. You eat this with a spoon, and every spoonful of mushroom and sauce sent me heavenward. After a couple of spoonfuls, Linda pointed out that I had sauce on my chin. Mmm, good.

All desserts are $5.99, and our flourless chocolate cake with raspberry sauce drew an “Ohhh” from Linda with the first bite. It was a large portion, “plenty of cake for two,” she said. “Can you imagine eating this all yourself?” she asked. Well, yes. We played dueling spoons as we tucked into the cake.

The restaurant is beautiful with brick walls and wooden tables and chairs. By 7 p.m. every table was full, including all the seats in the small bar. The prices are very reasonable. We had an amazing meal for $63.

Linda

I love an excuse to go to Belfast, and the prospect of a fall weekend with a trip to Delvino’s made it all the more enticing. The moment I entered the restaurant the aroma of Italian ingredients welcomed me. Marinara sauce and garlic … mmmm.

We were warmly greeted and cared for by the staff here, starting with Claire, as were all the diners who entered. Delvino’s has a warm atmosphere with its brick walls, high ceilings, nice lighting and candles on the wooden tables. Our table by the window afforded us a view of people passing by, most wistfully looking in wishing they were about to enjoy a delicious Delvino’s specialty.

Natalia helped us by sharing customers’ favorite dishes. If we had a question, she went right to the kitchen to find the answer. Turns out the supplier of the fresh pasta was Joseph’s in Massachusetts. They supplied interesting varieties of ravioli as well as angel hair and fettuccini. But the real magic is what the chefs create with that fresh pasta.

Their basket of warm bread and herbed olive oil for dipping was a great start to the meal. And though the starters all sounded great, I didn’t want to get too full before the fresh pasta arrived. So we shared the house marinated mushrooms with our bread, making a nice start to the dinner. And yes, the mushrooms were also good dipped in that olive oil.

If you don’t want a big meal, there are a number of salad and pizzettes to choose from. The pizzettes are olive oil-brushed fresh dough chargrilled. Create your own combo or choose from their tempting combinations.

I thought the prices for entrees were very reasonable since entrees come with a small house salad dressed with a great house vinaigrette. The pasta entrees are in the $16-$18 range, a little higher if you add veal, salmon or haddock. The portion sizes here are large.

It was a tough choice between the raviolis and the primavera. But the vegetable primavera had all of my favorites served on top of fresh fettuccini. The divine aroma was driving me crazy as George was taking way too long photographing our meals. The perfectly cooked pasta held sauteed artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, mushrooms, roasted red peppers and black olives. The balsamic vinegar drizzle lent a slight sweetness, and every bite was different due to all those ingredients. This dish was fresh and light, and George enjoyed it as much as I did.

I realized by the end of the meal that both George and I had chosen vegetarian meals that evening. That is pretty unusual for him, and he continued to rave about his sacchetti to the very last bite.

Delvino’s takes great fresh ingredients and, with care and creativity, creates some memorable dishes. Check them out on your next trip to Belfast.

Visit George’s website — georgesmithmaine.com — for book reviews, outdoor news and all Travelin’ Maine(rs) columns, found listed in the “Best of Maine” section.

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