This is the first of a small look at the Phoenix's Annual Best of Portland contest. Given the timing I think 3 categories is all I can do. Desserts are fun. I was already leaning towards coffee shops. But today it's neighborhood markets. The five finalist listed on the ballot are:
1) Colucci's an old style family run market on Congress Street, across from the fire station on Munjoy Hill. Beer , pizza, cigarettes, hot sandwiches. Nothing fancy solid working class roots. Probably seen better days with gentrification of the neighborhood and the Rosemont's 2nd store down the street.
2) Fresh Approach, the history of this spot on the West End, across on the from Rieche School, goes back forty years to the food co-op, social service agencies and community action, dance and theatre. Working class but very different from the East End Italian feel. It specializes in fresh cut meat at very reasonable prices.
3) Micucci's, I have been coming here since I moved to town in the early 70's. Italian cold cuts & fresh olives, a little bread and a bottle of wine made for a lovely picnic with a date on the rocks overlooking the harbor at the end of the peninsula. Today Micucci's is still an Italian market at heart but a little more upscale, it has the best selection of Italian wine in the city at very competitive prices. Steve Lanzalotta ( Sophia's) runs a little bakery in the back making Italian breads and pastry. He serves pizza by the slice using the dough from his Italian Pillow Bread as a base, big slices, very tasty and different from anything else in the city.
5) West End Deli. Spring street at the corner with Park. This is the newest entry and the smallest and I wish it had been around 30 years ago when I lived across the intersection at 110 Park St. Has a good size kitchen and makes very respectable hot and cold sandwiches. Small wine selection will do in a pinch.