When is “4-5 minutes” not 4 to 5 minutes?

When is “4-5 minutes” not 4 to 5 minutes?

After we left my mom’s hospital last night, we headed down into Portland for dinner. Melanie wanted to go to a place we went with my mom and my sister Francesca last year called the Flatbread Company. It’s a kind of “crunchy/granola/organic” pizza place, where the pizza is very good and cooked in a wood-fired oven. It’s also very popular in these parts. Even for off-season, it was packed.

Thus I was a little surprised that when I asked how long the wait for two people, the hostess said “4 to 5 minutes.” After all, there had to be about 25 to 30 people standing there, waiting. Maybe they were a couple of big parties of 10, I thought. So I put our name in and we waited. And waited. I was getting annoyed at about the half hour mark—it’s one thing to be off in your estimate by a few minutes, but a half hour?—when it suddenly came to me. She didn’t say, “4 to 5 minutes;” she said, “45 minutes.” D’oh! What kind of accent was that?

Well, we waited anyway and got seated after about another 20 minutes. The pizza was indeed good, as was the wine I ordered, a 2003 Andezon Cotes du Rhone. And since Maine apparently has a re-corking law, I could order a bottle and take the leftovers home. (With Melanie pregnant, ordering wine out has become problematic; I either have to order by the glass, which limits my selection, or drink as much of the bottle as I can myself and leave the rest behind. Happily, it takes a lot of wine to inebriate me for some reason, a lot more than the standard alcohol conversions of beer or liquor. Must be the Italian thing. Still, I don’t always feel like drinking a lot of wine at one sitting.)

The other thing we noticed was the number of pregnant women (actually Melanie noticed them; must be a pregnant woman radar) and babies. There sure were a lot kids there on a Friday night. It’s not exactly a “family pizza” type place, along the lines of a Pizza Hut. Flatbread Company certainly attracts its share of date couples and groups of college kids. Still, the atmosphere is loud enough that a fussy kid will not bother anyone.

So if you’re ever in Portland and want some good pizza, check out Flatbread Company. Just call ahead to put your name in the queue if you can. And don’t expect a 4-5 minute wait for a table on a Friday night.

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Written by
Domenico Bettinelli
  • I looked at their and I don’t think the Flatbread Pizza in Newburyport is owned by the same people. If you follow the link Dom provides to their webiste it says they have locations in Portsmouth, NH; AMesbury, MA; North Conway, NH; and Canton, CT.

  • On a similar note, I had lunch with an old friend downtown in Boston on Friday.  We decided to go to Maggiano’s Little Italy, which is a semi-national chain, but very good.

    We got in there after working hard to find a parking space, and while there were plenty of tables, apparently four waiters had called in sick.  We were told that it would be a 40 minute wait—for lunch!  But the hostess said that we could sit at those high tables with stools-with-backs that you find in the bar area, and that there was full service there.  So we grabbed one of the three tables.

    About five minutes later, nobody’d made a move to get us water or bread, so I went back—politely!—to the hostess area and asked who was supposed to be serving us.  It turns out that one of the managers was standing there; he took our order, gave us more than what was called for on the menu (a nice side dish of spaghetti alla arrabiata), and took good care of us during the meal.  Near the end, as he offered us coffee, he said that he was taking care of the cost, since we had been put out by slow service !!!

    Of course, we gave him a nice tip, but it speaks volumes about the attention to service at Maggiano’s.  I’m a raving fan.

    Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I love good Italian, and they have good Italian!

  • The Flatbread Co. is the bomb.  I had dinner there just last Monday wiht a priest friend of mine, Fr. Kevin Martin, assistant vocations director for the Diocese of Portland.  Their pizza really is out of this world.