Updated most weeks, this round-up summarizes the latest restaurant news from New England, beyond the borders of Massachusetts — restaurant openings, closures, and more in Portsmouth, Providence, Portland, and elsewhere. (Find the archive of last season’s news here.)
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April 23, 2020 — Sally’s Apizza Adds Online Ordering and Delivery; Classic Maine Drive-in Gets New Owners; and More
BRUNSWICK, MAINE — Fat Boy Drive-In has come under new ownership; the decades-old mainstay had been on the market for a year and a half as owners Ken and Jeanne Burton planned to retire after 36 years. (They had taken over the place from Ken’s father.) Mike Jerome, who co-owns Brunswick’s Portland Pie Co. and Bolos Kitchen Cantina and Candlepin, is the new owner and plans to open Fat Boy for the season any day now.
As he told the Portland Press Herald, Fat Boy’s drive-in design lends itself perfectly to the current crisis and may help offer “some normalcy and some excitement ... [to customers] sitting in the safety of their car, just like they have for 65 years.” To start, the menu will be limited in an effort to keep the kitchen staff small and properly distanced from each other, but classics like lobster rolls, frappes, and BLTs will definitely be available.
KITTERY, MAINE — Portland’s Definitive Brewing Company, which has been open for almost two years, is currently following the pandemic playbook of focusing on to-go sales and home delivery — while also expanding to Kittery. The new taproom, which measures about 1,100 square feet, could be ready to open shortly after the government allows businesses to start reopening. It will also feature seasonal patio space and room for food trucks outside. The Kittery facility will have a half-barrel brewing system meant for stouts.
NEW HAVEN, CONNECTICUT — New Haven is known for its coal-fired, brick-oven pizza (or “apizza,” to use the local word for it), and there are several key players in the game. Bostonians might be most familiar with Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana, which has expanded to include two Massachusetts locations (with more on the way) and more throughout New England. Sally’s Apizza — which, at 82 years old, is just 13 years younger than Pepe’s — is less known to those who haven’t spent time in New Haven since it hasn’t expanded (yet), but it has no less fierce a fanbase. In a 2014 ranking of five of New Haven’s iconic pizzerias, former Eater restaurant editor Bill Addison dubbed Sally’s number one.
“It made complete sense that parents with small children, college students, and senior citizens all ignored the scruffy digs and staff’s brusque ways to savor these wonders,” wrote Addison after experiencing the magic of apizza at Sally’s, particularly the tomato pie. “I suddenly, truly, understood how a pizza without cheese could be a thing of glory ... Blasting the tomatoes and garlic in the heat deepened and caramelized them into something new, something elemental. The tomato’s tanginess lit up every corner of my palate. A thousand holy yesses.”
Sally’s came under new ownership a few years back — new ownership with plans of nationwide expansion. In fall 2019, the pizzeria announced its first planned expansion to Norwalk, Connecticut.
Now, Sally’s — which for decades was cash-only and has always been notorious for long waits and the “brusque” service Addison mentioned — is coming into the modern age a bit more, adding delivery and online ordering as of April 24, a first in its eight-decade-plus span. The options are accessible via another new development, a flashy website, with direct online ordering for takeout available as well as delivery via DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats.
PORTSMOUTH, NEW HAMPSHIRE — Portsmouth chef and restaurateur Matt Louis (Moxy, Franklin, Street, and Luigi’s), an avid runner who was set to run the Boston Marathon this year, still ran it on Marathon Monday even though the actual race has been postponed until September. But he ran it on a treadmill, streamed it live online while chatting with viewers, and raised about $20,000 for his 126 employees in the process. His GoFundMe campaign is still accepting donations.