Food & Wine Magazine ranks the Pitford food scene as America’s Best

The busy Zagrobit Cafe in Pitford on Thursday. Food & Wine Magazine selected Pitford as one of the four “small cities with great food displays.” Shawn Patrick Ollet / Staff Photographer

BIDDEFORD – Maine For those who need more proof that we are living in the golden age of food and diet, Food & Wine magazine’s latest reference to Biddeford as one of the four American “small cities with big food displays”.

As a group with Bozeman, Montana; Charlottesville, Virginia; And Greenville, South Carolina; Biddeford is described in the press as Portland’s “quiet older sister.” The Food & Wine editors, who co-authored the list with the story of the 11 “next best food cities” in the United States, invited six Pitford food businesses in writing, including Magnus on Water, Night Moves Bread, Zagrobit Cafe, and Elda. , Palace Dinner and Lorne Wine, the city’s treasured food and beverage bookstore, Raphael’s and The Lincoln Hotel are scheduled to open this summer at one of the city’s refurbished mills.

Maine food is completely on fire these days. Some obvious examples: Five Portland chefs and restaurants received nominations for the finals for the James Beard Foundation Awards this summer, with last month’s World Championship Cheese winning at the Logins Gorges Cheese Class – the first time a Maine Cheese Maker has won a prestigious international competition. Competition – and Tandem Coffee + Bakery were included in the latest Financial Times roundup as “the best independent coffee shops in the world”. Last year, Food & Wine included three Maine Bagel stores on the list of America’s best bagels, including Pitford’s Rover Bagel.

Chick frying is nothing new. Bon Appetit magazine declared Portland its restaurant city in 2018, calling Biddeford an up-and-comer and calling it “the best reason to drive 18 miles south of Portland”.

But now that Biddeford seems to have arrived, it is ready to share Portland’s attention and leave as its own dining space. In the summer, one-third of the restaurant customers in this small town of about 22,000 come from outside the state, said Delila Bubore, managing director of the Heart of Pitford.


“We’ve been creating a very cool food scene for many years now, so it’s very nice to get this attention,” Boobor said. “We have food. You usually have to go to a big city.”

Build it, they will come

“The field of dreams is a lot like film. Build it, and they’re coming, ”said Anna Brown, Elda, based on the Zagrobit Cafe and Tasting menu, with her upscale sister restaurant, Chef Bowman Brown, at the Pepperrell Center. Following six James Beard recommendations and being named Food & Wine as one of the nation’s best new chefs in 2009, his appreciation is nothing new.

Browns first opened Elda in 2017 on Main Street. “We would not have had the courage to do it if it was not for the Palace Dinner in front of us,” Anna Brown said.

Chad Conley, co-owner of Palace Restaurant since 2014, said: “We have seen Pitford change a lot since then. We came in just in time. Since then there has been steady growth and I do not see it declining at any time.


Maine Energy Recovery Co., which has plagued the city since 1987 with toxic odors and roaring garbage trucks. Conley et al praised the city government for buying and demolishing the garbage incineration facility. That’s how it smelled in downtown, ”Boobor said.

Palace Restaurant in Pitford on Thursday. Shawn Patrick Ollet / Staff Photographer

“When you look at Biddeford, what started to regain its energy, you have to talk about the elements,” said Dan Lindgren, owner of Rabelais, who points to a collection of books, coffee and beer on the city’s main street. In 2013. “Elements were central to it. It’s undeniable.”

Lindgren believes that Elements has served as an unofficial arena for many entrepreneurs who have opened restaurants or other businesses in the city over the past several years, and he is not alone in this thinking.

On Thursday, Morgan Brokington, a customer of Zagrobit Cafe in Portland, said, “You have to give Elements credit to put Bitford on the map.”


According to Michael Macomber, co-owner of Elements, when Elements first opened, it was the only bookstore in town and the only one selling premium coffee or kraft beer. He appreciates the food and wine for Biddeford.

Young, hip and going

Today in Biddeford Downtown, 300 new apartments have opened in the past six years, with the average age being 29, which is 16 years younger than the statewide average, pointing to one of the city’s most recent revitalization, Poupore said. The city is young, hip and going.

Hannah Gaudier, another customer who ate lunch at Zagrobit Cafe on Thursday, said, “I can not talk too much about Pitford. I am proud. ”

Going to work in Pitford from Portland, Brokington said, “If I happen to live anywhere other than Portland, it will be Pitford.”


Kerry Honey, the famous baker behind Night Moves Bread, said glowing write-ups like Food & Wine can bring wonderful news and further economic growth to the city, but also bring challenges.

“Sometimes this kind of focus will, in the first place, somehow mitigate the circumstances that made it possible,” Honey said.

Seeks greater diversity

In fact, even business owners who ride the current wave of good publicity have regretted the rising rent in the city. “We have found this to be a struggle for people who want to work for us because they have not been able to find an affordable place to live. And I think this will continue to be an issue,” said Anna Brown. “We want the city to continue to grow. We love everything from food trucks to good food and there is enough space to accommodate everything.

Brittany Salivanzic, co-owner of Magnus on Water, which opened in January 2020, said: “We have always known that Pitford is one of Maine’s best food centers. A lot of them have heart and soul.


Salivanzik said the Magnus owners’ group chose not to open a fine-dining restaurant in Portland, where it would be “one more restaurant in a city already full of good restaurants. In Pitford, you have the opportunity to help grow a community and make a real impact on the city’s economic growth.”

Like Brown, Saliwanchik believes Biddeford will continue to paint more culturally diverse restaurants and food outlets. To that end, Bobor said a shawarma shop, a taco restaurant, a vegetarian restaurant and a “high-end” Irish pub will open in the next two months. After losing local favorites such as Biscuit & Company and Yatos, Bubor said the city should rebuild its dinner and brunch offers, at least because of the epidemic. Also, by the end of this summer, Pitford will be running five distilleries, Boobor added.

“There are still a lot of places to grow,” Salivanzik said. “That’s what’s so exciting about Pitford.”

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