I always think of Portland’s Back Bay Grill as kind of a sleeper. It’s among the city’s best restaurants and arguably its top fine-dining (as in white tablecloths, skilled service) destination, yet it doesn’t have the flash or get the splash of other top tables. Well, here’s another reason to add it to your Must-Dine bucket list: Francesca Bowman.
Recently hired as pastry chef, Bowman, from Portland, has worked under Tony Mantuano at the four-star Spiaggia in Chicago and prior to that, with Chef Barbara Lynch at No. 9 Park in Boston. She received her certificate in baking and pastry arts at Apicius, The Culinary Institute of Florence, where she also was a teaching assistant. While in Italy she trained under European honored chocolatier Andrea Bianchini, and created handmade chocolates for Bianchini’s shop, restaurant and hotel. Later, at Spiaggia, she developed and implemented Spiaggia’s first bread program as well as created new gelatos for the restaurant and café.
I’m thinking: skip the app and entree, and instead make a three-course meal of these new desserts: chocolate tart with port wine ice cream and whipped crème fraiche; orange almond cake served with almond brittle and salted milk sorbet; and bombalone, a Italian apple-filled doughnut served with vanilla rosemary ice cream.