Portland's Otto Pizza crossing the bridge to South Portland
SOUTH PORTLAND — The city's restaurant scene has been expanding throughout the spring, but city councilors are not always as effusive as Councilor Linda Cohen was Monday night about one particular newcomer.
“I know we are not supposed to have favorites, but I have fallen in love with Otto Pizza,” Cohen said as she moved for passage of the license to allow owners Mike Kean and Anthony Allen to open their third Otto Pizza in Maine.
Otto will move into a former service station at 159 Cottage Road, at the intersection with Highland Avenue and Richland Street, opposite Red's Dairy Freeze.
The company, technically Oscar Pizza LLC, has two Congress Street pizzerias in Portland, and three more Boston-area locations: on Commonwealth Avenue near Boston University, at Harvard Square in Cambridge, and in Brookline.
Otto is known for its creative toppings and sells pizza by the slice. The Cottage Road location will have on-site parking and provide tables for dine-in customers as well as take-out service.
The city location was last occupied by a landscaping company. Councilors discussed and rejected buying the property at a City Council workshop last year.
Councilor Patti Smith also revealed her affection for Otto before councilors unanimously approved the license to serve beer and wine.
"I'll fight for the second," Smith said when Cohen beat her to the draw on moving the council order.
Before the vote on Otto Pizza, councilors unanimously approved a beer and wine license for Bethpage, N.Y., resident Constantine Casvikes to open Gourmaine at 200 Gorham Road, near Clark's Pond Parkway. The license application said the 76-seat restaurant will serve Mediterranean food.
Last week, Ruby Thailand, operated by Chakpan Kuenlom and Tharop Koonyostying, opened at 179 Cottage Road at the base of Meetinghouse Hill. The 32-seat restaurant serves Thai cuisine.
On the city's west side, El Rodeo restaurant has occupied the former Outback Steakhouse restaurant site. The family-owned Mexican restaurants first opened in Harrisburg, Pa., about 20 years ago, and the El Rodeo at 147 Western Ave. is the first in Maine.
The third Five Guys Burgers and Fries restaurant in Maine is now open at 198 Maine Mall Road, in Mallside Plaza. The chain began in 1986 in Arlington, Va., and now has locations in Portland and Bangor, with another on the way next month in Brunswick.