The gist: In a rustic, warehouse space in bustling Old Port, Genoa-born chef Paolo Laboa makes daily updates to his extraordinary Northern Italian menu.
The food: Laboa’s traditional six-section menu begins with a beguiling array of crudo. Start with a plate of Atlantic Bluefin tuna tartar with salsa verde, a farm egg yolk, and beet mostarda then move on to antipasti. Pastas like carbonara di mare (maccheroncelli tossed in an an uni emulsion with guanciale, caramelized onions, Pecorino Romano, and Gulf shrimp) and Laboa’s delicate handkerchief pasta with award-winning emerald-green pesto are a great midpoint prelude to dishes like pan-seared local dayboat scallops with housemade ‘nduja and cherry tomatoes over Maine Grains polenta, or duck breast with figs and braised cabbage. And leave room for a cookie plate and other tasty desserts.
The cost: Starters, pastas, and entrees approximate $15-40, most cocktails are $14, and beer and wine run $5-14. Gift cards are also available. The restaurant’s sister market, Solo Cucina, in South Portland, is well worth a visit, too.
How to order: Make a reservation on OpenTable for limited indoor and seasonal patio seating, or call for takeout at Solo Italiano.