Viagnola's Melting Pot

ViagnolaSign1Viagnola's Restaurant (10 Dana Street, Portland, ME), is not on my short list.  I have made two visits to Viagnola's prior to this weekend; both were disappointing.  Fortunately, this time Vignola's improved enough to become a notable contender in the Old Port.

My previous experiences at Vigonla's left me with a poor impression. The service was lacking, food was bland, and atmosphere uninviting.

Upon walking in we were first told there were no tables available.  The moment was slightly off-putting because it almost felt like we would not be seated.  When I suggested the hostess take my name down, she did, and then offered to take my number and call when a table opened; approximately 30 minutes.  I am not sure if the offer to call was a redemption or I was hyper-sensitive, but first impressions were poor. Vignola's did deliver, with a cellphone call a few minutes later.

The atmosphere at Vignola's is loud - but I am not convinced it was lively.  This time there were people at the bar watching baseball game, an obnoxious old hag (well deserved) loudly judging every person in the dining room, and a dining room filled with people.  Some were on dates, others just for a causal dinner, and a few that came in for drinks.

On top of the large numbers of people carrying on conversations, and the hag commenting on every tattoo/piercing/shirt/dress/purse/haircut/hair-color for 2 hours, waiters moving around and attentively checking each table, dishes flying by, there was the reggae playing from the speakers; a little strange for a restaurant with a "focus on an authentic Italian experience." What I am trying to say is that Viagnola's is not a focused restaurant.  It wants to be a trendy Italian establishment, and perhaps their food reflects a portion of that, but stating it as an "experience" is a stretch of reality.

The food itself was not spectacular, but good never-the-less.   Bruschetta, oysters, trout, lobster, and panna-cotta were all prepared well, seasoned, and fresh.  I don't think any of the dishes would bring me back to Vignola's, but food was good enough that I would want to return and try others.  The one odd thing was the lack of pasta on my plate, or as a side dish, in fact the whole menu felt carb-conscious.

Overall, I would say Vignola's is a reasonable choice for a descent dinner in the Old Port, but it is not a place to impress.  With a little more focus, Vignola's may just become the ideal counter-part to Cinque Terre, but it is not there yet.

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Categories: Restaurants & Bars

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