SOUTH PORTLAND — The city has two more locally owned restaurants to tout.
A fourth location of Otto Pizza in southern Maine – and the second in South Portland – officially opened last week at 125 John Roberts Road, near the Maine Mall.
And SoPo Bar and Grill opened this week at 740 Broadway, in space that previously housed JP Thornton’s.
The newest Otto location offers the most space, with five picnic tables and a full-size, indoor bocce court. As is the case at the chain’s other locations, patrons have the option of buying pizza by the slice or ordering whole pies. The location also will allow Otto to expand its pizza delivery area to western portions of South Portland, and Scarborough.
The first Otto was opened in Portland by Anthony Allen and Mike Keon in June 2009, and the business has grown considerably in five years; besides the locations in the Portland area, four have opened in and around Boston. Last year, a delivery facility was also added around the corner from the Otto shop on Congress Street at the base of Munjoy Hill in Portland.
In conjunction with the opening of the new location was the kick-off of a beer-pairing collaboration with Rising Tide Brewing Co. in Portland’s East Bayside. All Otto locations in Portland and South Portland serve a few taps of Maine-brewed beer, but the restaurant had yet to collaborate with a brewery to tailor a beer specifically to their pizza.
The resulting brew, Autohelm, a hoppy amber ale, was brewed by a team with members from both businesses, who began working together in the fall. Autohelm is available only at Otto locations in in Maine, but by mid-December will also be available in Massachusetts.
SoPo Bar and Grill is owned by Peter Verrill, who also owns Foreside Tavern in Falmouth and Outliers in Portland.
Verrill’s efforts to acquire a liquor license for his newest operation was initially impeded by his criminal record; between 2000 and 2012, Verrill was convicted of five Class D and E crimes. Charges included operating under the influence and criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon.
The City Council issued Verrill his liquor license in early October with the stipulation that he be subject to annual check-ins.
The bar and grill is divided into three adjacent spaces with a door for each: a deli, a bar, and a dining room. The deli menu includes the basics like soups, salads, burgers and specialty sandwiches with locally recognizable names, like The Fort Preble Parmesan, The Broadway and The Greenbelt Greek.