DiMillo's the latest Portland restaurant to add nutrition info to menus

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PORTLAND — The lobster roll at DiMillo’s Floating Restaurant has 290 calories, and soon diners at the Commercial Street restaurant will be able to find that information on the menu.

DiMillo’s has been working with a city-provided dietitian to calculate nutritional information for its dishes, and also to tweak some recipes to improve nutrition and taste. The restaurant’s effort is the latest part of Smart Meals for ME, a program designed to get restaurants in Portland and other parts of Cumberland County to provide diners with information about the food they are ordering.

“This helps people make decisions that are going to benefit them in the long run,” DiMillo’s Chef Melissa Bouchard said last Friday, during a cooking demonstration at the restaurant.

Smart Meals for ME was created by Healthy Portland, a program of the city’s Health and Human Services Department.

Restaurants that participate in the program have access to a registered dietitian and help with printing new menus, services that could run a restaurant as much as $8,000. The program is funded by grants the city received for obesity prevention and is available through March 2012.

DiMillo’s is the latest restaurant to sign on. Others in Portland include Sebago Brewing Co., PeRx-U-Up and Anthony’s Italian Kitchen. Pat’s Pizza on Market Street is in the process of adding nutritional information to its menus.

Smart Meals for ME is also available to restaurants in Windham, Raymond, Casco, Naples, Bridgton, Harrison, Baldwin, Sebago and Standish.

At DiMillo’s, Bouchard said that about half the time, diners will go for a healthier option if offered. The lobster roll, with 290 calories, has mayonnaise and is served on a white hot dog roll grilled with butter. The dish provides 11 grams of fat, 23 grams of carbohydrates and 23 grams of protein.

“It’s one of the healthiest and it happens to be one of the most popular,” Bouchard said.

Portland Mayor Nick Mavodones, who was at DiMillo’s on Friday, said the program helps diners “exercise personal responsibility.”

Along with the city encouraging local restaurants to participate, business cards are available through the city for diners who want to encourage their favorite dining establishments to participate by leaving a note.

The cards say “Please join Smart Meals for ME” on one side, and “I’m a regular customer who values health and would love to see calorie information next time I dine here” on the other. There is contact information for the program provided, as well.

According to the city, studies link eating out with obesity and higher caloric intake. Nine out of 10 diners underestimate calorie content in their meals by more than 600 calories. Almost 58 percent of the adult population in Cumberland County is obese or overweight.

For more information about Smart Meals for ME, contact smartmealsforme@gmail.com or go to facebook.com/smartmealsforme

Kate Bucklin can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or kbucklin@theforecaster.net Follow her on Twitter: @katebucklin.