I have been lucky enough to travel and eat my way through lots of amazing restaurants and friend's feasts (anything my best friend's husband David makes takes my breath away!), and yet Primo remains my absolute favorite place to eat on the planet. I got to spend a lovely night alone with my youngest daughter this weekend and was thrilled to get a reservation at Primo Saturday evening. My favorite place to sit is upstairs at one of the corner banquettes -- to me its the perfect spot, though I've not had the chance to sample the expanded options here -- so comfortable and cozy yet it has a really cool current urban spirit (I loved the background music -- subtle but kind of edgy) -- The place has expanded since my last visit and if we hadn't had a table the larger bar area would have been my next choice. But that's just me -- if you're looking for a more intimate, hushed experience, downstairs is lovely -- upstairs you're transported to a groovy happening place in Rome and downstairs you're more connected to the old Maine farmhouse which houses this amazing restaurant.
I wasn't sure what to expect this visit and honestly was a little worried because the chefs/owners have had so much recognition and they've opened in two other locations -- you know, the fear that they've gotten so famous and fabulous and not hands on anymore. I so wanted my little one to experience the magic I'd felt here, but probably hadn't been back since she was a baby (both my daughters spent many dinners nestled on their sheepskin next to me on that banquette... heaven!) so we walk in and are warmly greeted by Price, one of the owners (and I believe the pastry chef?) -- My worries dissipated instantly and I was happy to see him there, so connected and welcoming. We were early so he suggested we stroll around the farm 'til our table was ready...
It was a beautiful summer evening in Maine, and the gardens and enclosures for the animals were totally inspiring. We wandered and smelled things and watched the chickens and pigs and a lone frenetic guinnea hen. We snuck a few raspberries (hope thats okay!) and then settled into our cozy corner spot.
I started with a lovely rhubarb essence spritzy prosecco -- pretty and not sweet or tart, just right. We couldn't decide on what to order -- the one drawback to having only two of us is how to choose -- everything is so damn good. We settled on a salad with a locally sourced cheese, figs and ham, and a squash blossom stuffed with house made mozzarella and anchovies, with couscous and I forget what other heavenly bits. Devoured it all, as well as the beautiful bread sampling. Our server was amazing -- she was enthusiastic and knowledgeable, friendly and attentive. My sweet 8 year old went for the butter poached lobster -- I have to say this is the only place other than my own house where I'd eat lobster (and I live in Maine!) -- it was perfect, though you'll be spoiled for life and no other lobster will ever measure up.
My only regret was not thinking to order the zeppole earlier -- rats! I admit I'd daydreamed about them on our way up to Rockland, little Italian donuts, but somehow so much more than simply donuts, or maybe exactly that, perfect little round donuts. Anyway, we were too full and sleepy to wait for them to be prepared.... we'll just have to go back.
In a nutshell, go hungry (or often if you can) be brave, try things you never thought you'd try, appreciate every artful morsel on your plate, and remember to order the zeppole early to bring home with you (absolutely have dessert when you're at the restaurant, bring those for later!). And cheers to Primo.
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