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Portuguese, Anyone?

I just came back from an amazing trip to Portugal (Lisboa/Lisbon), Spain (Seville, Grandada, Toledo, Madrid, Marbela) and Morocco (Tangier). With perhaps the exception of two breakfast buffets (scrambled eggs should never be served in the consistency of soup!:}) and one so-so meal at the end, all of the food was amazing. I have yet to try tapas in the city but as I already know of its existence I figured I would ask the board if they know of any Portuguese places. (I'm starting to think that Portugual is the Canada to Spain!) True, I did prefer the Spanish tapas to what I had in Lisbon, but what I did have was really good- flaky custard tarts (similar to greek pastry without the syrup), grilled sardines and bread soup. I'm interested in trying out what I missed as I was only in Portugual for 2 days and I am sure their cuisine is more expansive than that. (I did hear about piri-piri chicken but did not have a chance to try it) I am sure Brazilian cuisine has some similarities but I am sure it is also very different. Menupages has nothing- can you help? I like the simplicity of it- REALLY good olive oil and REALLY good bread.
PS- Tangier was very dirty and poverty stricken (I am very glad I saw it though), but the food was incredible. I was afraid that the "belly dancing evening entertainment" would be cheesier than anything at Disney World, but they proved me wrong:} They also served the best couscous I ever had. Also, drive just 30 minutes to the coastal Assilah and you could be in the Greek Islands.

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  1. I'm not a big fan of Portuguese food (Spanish cuisine is generally more refined & varied), but the best I've had in the area is in Newark's Ironbound at Tony da Caneca.

    I wouldn't recommend Alfama in the West Village, which is mediocre & expensive. I haven't tried Tintol, the midtown Portuguese tapas place, but it has had some good reports here.

    Brazilian food is very different from Portuguese. There are a bunch of Brazilian places on 46th Street between 5th & 6th. Emporium Brazil is pretty good.

    http://petercherches.blogspot.com

    1. alfama in the west village is probably your best bet for a nice portuguese dinner. the party i went with had the chourico, stone-grilled filet, a bacalhau dish, and a really good cataplana dish. it was all good, medium price range, nice, if not really portuguese, decor. zagat gave it a 23-21-23-$45. here's a menupages link to it: http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

      tintol is a new portuguese tapas restaurant in (believe it or not) times square. this has quickly become my favorite place for a pre- or post-theatre bite, though i've heard people complain that it's not the place to get a whole meal. search this board for more reviews and specific dishes. i liked the old standbys, the chourico, and the piquillo peppers with bacalhau. also, don't forget to get some vinho verde (the murhales at tintol is one of the better ones i've had). menupages link: http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

      1. Alfama is overpriced, but the food's good and portions ok. I would say the food is more nouvelle (read cute and pricey) rather than authentic. I've had better Portuguese food in East Providence RI at half the price. I don't like their habit of trying to pour your wine for you. That stopped after they did it once.

        1. Agreed on Tintol (46th st.) The owner, Jose Merailles (?) is Portugeuse and truly a professor of Portuguese cooking. Everything we tried on a recent visit was very good, with the prok belly a stand out.

          1. The pastry you describe is called a "Natas" (pronounced natash). There are many bakeries in Newark, a quick walk from Penn Station, that sell fantastic ones, almost as good as in Belem (I actually brought home 10 from Lisbon once, didn't hold up too well.) They are best fresh from the oven and sprinkled w/cinnamon (canela). Otherwise the only place I ever ate here that compared to food in Portugal was Luzia's on the Upper West Side, 429 Amsterdam Ave Btwn 80th & 81st St. I remember their pork and clams being amazing, and I was with my Portugues boyfriend at the time who agreed. It has been a few years, but I would check it out. Here's the menupages link:
            http://www.menupages.com/restaurantde...

            4 Replies
            1. re: esyle

              The Natas, or custard filled tarts are absolutely delicious. I used to get them in a
              Portugese store in New Rochelle, but the store is now long gone. Where can I get these?
              Hounds, it's worth the trip for these, believe me. I guess I'll be going to Newark.
              Ironbound here I come. http://www.wirednewyork.com/forum/sho...

              Image: http://ummundomagico.blogs.sapo.pt/ar... ... I am psyched.
              They are about 2 to 2 1/2 inches or so in diameter. Two bites and they are history. Deliciousness from the Portugese culture (especially if with a hint of lemon or lime).

              1. re: Cheese Boy

                These look a lot like the "Portuguese-style" egg custard tarts I often see in Chinese bakeries. I'm sure they're not the same, but it might tide you over for now. I've had them at Taipan Bakery on Canal near Mulberry, and they're good. I think the Chinese in Macau adopted the Portuguese style. I didn't do exhaustive research, but here's a Wikipedia article:

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egg_tart...

                I love the part where it says, "There was a craze of Portuguese-style egg tarts in Singapore and Taiwan in the late 1990s."

                1. re: AppleSister

                  I also found a recipe:
                  http://www.leitesculinaria.com/recipe...

                  The website in general has lots of Portuguese recipes. I've made the pasteis de bacalhau, the fried codfish balls. Yum.

                  1. re: AppleSister

                    Ah yes, the Portugese and their salted cod. Some of the best and most sought cod in the world believe it or not. (Norwegians will also admit to that).

                    I WILL try a Chinese version of the Portugese NATAS. I'm amazed of the craze, but I'm not surprised, because they are really really good.

            2. Luzia's sounds good, but I don't see porco Alentejana (pork with clams, Alentejo-style) on the menu. It's my favorite Portuguese dish. I think I had it 3 times in Lisbon, and it was different every time.

              1. Thanks to everyone who replied. I was surprised that there are several options in midtown so I will definitely check them out soon.

                1. Just wanted to echo your report on Portuguese food in general -- I went there when I was TWELVE (almost 20 years ago) and I remember many details of several delicious meals. They are in fact some of the most vivid culinary memories I have. Have passed by Alfama a few times and it does look kind of bland and stodgy. Can't wait to try Tintol!

                  1. Nicole...I agree with posters about the Ironbound (Newark)...why settle for less or pay more for it? You could have a weekend feast going up and down Ferry Street and my suggestion is to stroll to the end where Ferry takes the left fork in the road. Stop in at "PIC-NIC" for authentic leitao (roast suckling pig) - the owner, IIRC, is from the Bairrada region. Also chow down on a hardwood-charcoal-BBQ chicken (frango churrasquiera) and good fries. (BTW, did you eat ANY green veggies over there?).

                    Back to central Ferry Street for pasteis de nata(Belem) at the modern-looking bakery on a corner about midway between Pic-Nic and Pennsylvania Station. It might be called "Riviera"...but they've got the goods!

                    Make a quick stop at either of the liquor stores for Sagres beers (perhaps even Super-Bock) and priced-right Portuguese wines. Boa noite.

                    As an aside, the LIRR to Mineola will be another rewarding adventure...the grocery on Willis Avenue at Jericho Turnpike and "Churrascaria Bairrada" highly respectable.

                    If you're like me, "Dia do Portugal" (on the second weekend in June from Friday night thru Sunday night) will be annual appointment travel.

                    1. Just returned from a fabulous tour of Portugal and the wedding of our son in a small village in Northern Portugal...near Chaves. The food was bountiful and plentiful from the family farm. We are doing party here in Northern NJ to celebrate and I'd like to give minature bottles of port that I saw over there. Does any one know the name of a liquor store in the Ironbound that I could order them from or anywhere else (internet?) where I could order 100 miniature bottles? Thanks. First time on this board...seems great.

                      1. Ferry Street, Newark has at least two great liquor stores (I think it's OPORTO WINES & LIQUORS(#178 - they've got the right name for sure!), FERRY WINES & LIQUORS(#158) & LISBOA LIQUOR STORE (#118)...they all have the goods.

                        On the 'Net you might also try a search for the PORT WINE INSTITUTE in either Lisbon or Oporto for some advice direct from the source. I actually sat in for a one-hour session at the office in hilly Lisbon 20 years ago...the "samples" were about a buck apiece and after a dozen or so, the fresh-grilled lunch sardinhas tasted great!

                        If all else fails, try hooking up with the local Portuguese National Tourist Office.

                        Boa Noite.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Mike R.

                          Mike, thanks for the leads, I'll try them tomorrow. We spent some time in Porto 2 weeks ago sampling some of the 10, 20 and 40 year-old Port in one of the Port caves across the river. The prices have gone up but the experience was wonderful. We rolled down the hill to the river afterward and had an excellent meal, too. Thanks again.
                          Boa Noite!

                        2. you might sign up for the ALFAMA email. they do regional portugese dinners regularly.

                          1. We loved Portugal. Stayed in Cascais, long but enjoyable stroll on the water or quick train from Lisbon and Estoril Casino. Best shrimp by the kilo in the world. For tapas, try Pao on Greenwich/Spring in NYC, near water on west side downtown. It used to be terrific. Chorizo appetizer in clay pig pot superb. Boy do we miss the vino verde.