Ports Pizzeria brings slice of Sicily to Boothbay Harbor

Tue, 11/12/2019 - 7:30pm

A new Boothbay Harbor pizzeria will have a distinct Italian flavor. Ports Pizzeria was officially opened Nov. 11 at 28 Union St. by two Italians with decades of experience in the food industry. Sante Calandri has owned Ports of Italy since 2010 and has brought Francesco Mazzone from New York City to Boothbay Harbor as his partner. 

Calandri decided to enter the pizza business last year while searching for seasonal housing for his employees. He bought the former Wok in Grill property which had been vacant for years. While inspecting the building, Calandri and Ports of Italy manager Jeff Teel concluded the building’s second floor was ideal for apartments and the first had a possibility of becoming a pizzeria. Calandri contacted Mazzone about becoming his partner, and later bought the building. 

Like his restaurant, Ports Pizzeria’s menu lists entrees in Italian. Patrons have a selection of 12 pizzas, two paninos (sandwiches), nine insalatas (salads), and two calzones. In serving great Italian food, both men agree fresh ingredients are essential. Mazzone and Calandri call their creation “gourmet pizza.”

“Margherita is a simple pizza.We use fresh mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and basil. It’s all fresh ingredients and you will taste the difference. It’s very light, digestible and tasty,” he said. Mazzone worked for decades in New York City restaurants and pizzerias. Calandri met him when both worked at Biche, a Manhattan Italian ristorante. But Mazzone learned the art of pizza-making back in Sicily working in his mother’s shop.

For Calandri and Mazzone, there is no better pizza than a Margherita. It is made with San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil. Ports also serves a Margherita Inverto which varies ingredient placement upon the dough. Instead of first applying sauce to the uncooked dough, the chef places the mozzarella cheese followed by the tomato sauce. The Quarto Stagioni has San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella, boiled eggs, prosciutto, mushrooms and artichoke. But one of the early popular selections is the Alle Vongole, a pizza made with clams, garlic, light tomato sauce and basil.

At a special opening party Nov. 10, patron Chris Fritz of Boothbay Harbor was one of about 50 who were among the first eating Ports’ gourmet pizza. He was anxious to try Alle Vongelle. Fritz enjoyed it so much, he developed a slight Italian accent. “I love da pizza,” he said.

The building’s condition delayed Calandri’s opening. A potential August date turned into a November opening. The building required major renovations which Calandri said took “time and money.”  But now, the renovation is complete with a new brick oven which cooks pizza at 750 F to 800 F.

“It was a big challenge. We’re lucky it didn’t fall down, but it looks absolutely fantastic now and we’re ready to open,” he said. “I will guarantee you one thing that the pizza will be great.”

Ports Pizzeria officially opened on Veterans Day at 11:30 a.m. The shop is open from 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. all this week. Beginning Nov. 18, the shop will be open six days a week with Wednesday being the only day it’s closed. Ports Pizzeria will also be closed on Thanksgiving Day. 

While the pizzeria has an Old World flavor, it uses modern technology in ordering. Patrons can phone or e-mail as well as eat-in. Ports Pizzeria’s phone number is 633-1133 and the website is portspizzeria.com