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Primo, Rockland

Primo is a restaurant in mid-coast Maine where my husband and I, celebrating our 24th anniversary one May, had the best meal we've ever had. (It beat a lobster risotto to die for in Bar Harbor I had in 2006.)

My husband, Frank, is a gardener. There is nothing he touches that won't grow and bloom. Gardening, like cooking, is a knack; I don't think just anyone can do it. He "feels" what his plants need; he's not precisely giving X amount of water at X time. He just inherently feels it and intuitively knows.

I believe people are basically energy, and we all give off an energetic charge that is a positive when we come in contact with certain plants, creatures, and human beings. At other times, our energy can be a turn off.

I'm sure you've experienced this in people -- those in whose presence you feel better and in others, when you feel worse or spastic. Animals and babies seem to be more attracted to some people than others. I think without being controlled by social selves and norms, they feel the energy more honestly.

Frank has an energy which allows plants to respond favorably to his touch.

Both Frank and I love to cook.

Again, with Frank, it is intuitive and creative. He is best at desserts and things that require artistic flare.

For me, it's about order, following a precise process to come to results. It calms me as I chop, measure and follow a recipe when I am feeling out of order. It also appeals to my strong aesthetic need; I love nature, natural colors, and beauty. I take great pleasure in creating a meal and a table that is visually appealing.

We both love to eat....which is certainly partly why he loves to garden and why we both love to cook. For us, gardening and cooking are not chores; they're life to us. These pursuits are so appealing and satisfying. These bring us a very deep joy.

It's no surprise then that Primo would appeal to us on such a deep level.

Co-owners Melissa Kelly (Executive Chef) and Price Kushner (Bakery/Pastry Chef) restored a Victorian home in Rockland that is charming, quaint, and beautifully and simply decorated with white linen tablecloths, sparkling glassware and candles, and earth tone paints.

Part of their reason for choosing that locale was the opportunity to buy enough land to establish their extensive gardens, green houses, and to raise their own pigs and chickens. Their meals are based on freshness and seasonality. We ate for dinner organically grown greens they had picked that afternoon, and you can tell the difference.

If you are foodie, or if you want a delicious meal for a special event, I encourage you to take the drive (1 hour 45 minutes from Portland...and you could always spend the night at the Samoset) for a most delicious meal and joyful evening as you linger over a culinary experience that is truly fulfilling.

Our meal was:

Appetizer to share (and bring half home) (ranges from $15-22)

Funghi wood fired pizza with roasted garlic, nepitella, Mousseron and Cremini mushrooms

Dinner (ranges from $32-45)

Locally caught Halibut atop a creamy white bean puree, wilted dandelion greens, sweet onion, Meyer lemon confit, warm

Maine shrimp & white bean salad Sautéed scaloppini of Pork Saltimbocca served on a bed of roast garlic mashed potatoes layered with wilted garden spinach, prosciutto and a sage, mushroom, Madiera jus

Dessert (ranges from $9-11)

Local Rhubarb Crostata with ginger gelato, salted shortbread, gingersnap crumble, slow roasted strawberries

Warm Belgium chocolate Budino cake, mint stracicella gelato, fresh berries

They also served to each table a tiny appetizer of crab, artisan breads, and an assortment of hand-made truffles.

Visit their gorgeous website for an experience in itself, listening to Melissa Kelly describe her love and care for the food, the gardens, the animals, her guests.

In one of the videos, one of the employee’s talks about the food as a “warm hug.”

That’s it.

That’s what makes the difference at Primo.

She’s 100% right.

2 S. Main Street, Rockland

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