This is a restaurant with a mission, and everyone from the wait staff to the kitchen has bought in, with enthusiasm. They've got a lot to be proud of: thoughtfully prepared food, fair prices, and lovely surroundings. Every step in the process is taken seriously, from selecting and purchasing what to cook, figuring out how to prepare it, and bringing it to the table. Trattoria Athena does not cut corners.
My husband and I arrived late for our reservation and had to wait about 10 minutes for a table. The staff did not stop apologizing and thanking us for our patience. Before we could even sit down, we were each handed a glass of prosecco as a consolation. How often does that happen?
The Greek Italian inspired menu was thoughtful and innovative. Servings were perfectly sized; not gargantuan but generous. No worries here about getting those miniscule portions that have overtaken many of Maine's higher end restaurants.
Finely sliced ribbons of Faroe Island cured salmon filled the plate. The curing process brought out the rich sweetness of the fish. The meat ball appetizer was substantial, homey, but light. The grilled razor clams were sizzling in their shells and very tender. Our waitress explained that the narrow, rectangular bivalves are mostly harvested during full moon tides because the water recedes far enough to reach these elusive creatures. Monkfish on a skewer was perfectly done, crisp outside, tender inside with a lovely lemony sauce, reminiscent of Greek lemon soup. Pasta with lamb and broccoli rabe in a reduced tomato-based sauce was simply delicious.
The staff was gracious and attentive, personal without pandering. Our waitress Nicolina was super charming and gave us an insider's glimpse to the Maine food universe.
Given the care devoted to each dish, this is a bargain and will be a regular stop on our trips to mid coast Maine. We're crossing our fingers that this restaurant won't rest on its laurels. Please, Trattoria Athena, don't ever change!
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