Monday, May 11, 2009

Giacomo's: Grand Reopening

My heart was nearly broken last winter when the Barking Cat Cafe, Christopher's pub, New Moon Cafe, and Giacomo's Groceria all closed within a month of each other. Suddenly downtown Bangor was devoid of any class. All we had left were two Irish bars, one for old people and the other brimming with loud, stumbling college kids. Proximity to shops and cafes had been the only reason to live downtown, so I was ready to pack up and move to the 'burbs. I would get a barbeque and learn to garden.

Christopher's is still vacant, and the vegan brunch void created by Barking Cat's closure has yet to be filled. Fortunately, New Moon reopened under a different name, and today, Giacomo's 2.0 was unveiled. It's no longer a groceria, but an Italian-style cafe, advertising panini, wine, and espresso.

Though it's not on the chalkboard, the cashier assured me I can still get my soy chai. There are a few grocery items for sale, including Little Lad's Herbal Corn and Artisan Brick Oven bread. I'd love to see a selection of pasta, sauces, and olive oil reappear.

There have been some changes to the menu, and though Giacomo's doesn't offer any vegan sandwiches, there are now more vegetarian choices. I can't have been the only customer requesting meat-free options; it's nice to see the owners have responded. I ordered (and mispronounced) the new greca, deliciously salty roasted eggplant, red peppers, red onion, and basil on a nutty whole grain ciabatta bread (hold the mozzarella).

It's a more subdued alternative to the unruly vegetable antipasto, a tangy, sloppy sandwich with kalamata olives, artichoke hearts, romaine, and tomato on rosemary focaccia. So far, so good, but let it be known that the chickpea salad and stuffed grape leaves must come back to the deli case. A freezer full of locally-made ice cream will show up soon for the summer, and I'm hoping for Gifford's raspberry sorbet.

My husband ordered the new tre formaggi, a fancy grilled cheese on ciabatta. It's not vegan, but I love the photo. Look how he eats around the perimeter of the sandwich, like a raccoon:

Though I'll miss the original Groceria, it's nice to have my downtown caffeine and lunch spot back in its new, streamlined form. Nowhere in Bangor sells better coffee, and you can't beat employees who learn your name, ask about your pets, and remember which blend of coffee you like.

Welcome back, Giacomo's!


  1. I'm so glad to hear your downtown shops are reopening. It's always so sad when beloved places close, but super exciting when new places open (or reopen, as the case may be). Three cheers for living downtown!

  2. So happy to find your blog. I grew up in Bangor and when I visit my family I have to find places to eat! I was trying to figure out if we went to high school together, but I just read that you moved from the southern part of the state.

  3. This is my favorite place downtown!!! I am so glad they are open. And I must say, I am a huge fan of their vegetable antipasto :) So many new things to try so I guess I will be there a lot!

  4. Have you tried Montes at 72 Columbia St? They have some veggie soups, salads and sandwiches as well as omnivore food. They also have a veggie pizza melt (eat in or bake at home). I don't know about vegan, but they are very willing to listen and accomodate. They're only open for lunch Mon-Fri. -- Jim

  5. Hi Jim. Montes is delicious! I haven't been there lately because I'm usually working while they're open, but I look forward to many hummus wraps this summer.

  6. Hi Mary! So great to see you and your husband on opening day! As always, thanks for the support! I'm enjoying your column in Maine Food & Lifestyle, by the way.


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