Azorean Rest., Gloucester
I was wondering if any other CHers have tried this place yet. Yes, its actually called "The Azorean". I had the pleasure of going there for lunch last Friday. I didn't know quite what to expect and figured it would be sort of like Portuguese or Cape Verdean food, although I haven't had those types of food much either. I guess I was expecting a lot of dried cod and shrimp and things like that.
The lunch menu was limited to mostly sandwiches and a few appetizers. Instead of a focus on fish and shellfish, pork and beef seemed to the highlights. I ended up having what was basically the most amazing "pulled pork" sandwich I ever had, or even imagined possible.
There were two types of pork sandwiches on the menu and I asked the extremely pleasant and well-informed waitress about the difference between the two. Each had a different Portuguese name, which I don't recall. One, she said, was more like a whole pork chop on a roll, and the other was shredded. But she went on to explain how the shredded pork was prepared and said its a specialty of the house. It cost a bit more, but I was sold on her description.
Meanwhile, she brought us a bowl of nice olives, bread, and olive oil. While waiting, my friend, a Gloucester native, and I (a former Gloucester resident) remarked how beautiful the inside of the restaurant was. Its only been open since November and they spared nothing in the construction. We looked at a dinner menu and saw that the most expensive dinner entree was only about $17 and every single dish sounded incredible. More fish dishes than at lunchtime, but still a focus on beef and pork. I wish we had place like this in Boston!
Anyway, our sandwiches came out and....wow....perfectly slow-roasted pork piled onto a crusty, fresh roll. The pork had a perfect balance of shredded meatiness, fat, and crispy burnt parts. But the marinade and spices is what set it off from anything I've eaten before. Their was a faint, familiar smokiness, but a more prevalent aroma of cinnamon and allspice, but the sweetness was tempered by a slowly ascending peppery heat that sort of crept up on you. I can't begin to work out what went into the spice mix. Lordy, it was good! It was the kind of unique taste I'll get cravings for that will lead to irrational behavior, like driving from Boston to Gloucester during my "one-hour' lunch break ;-) The perfect fries served with the sandwich only foster these impulses.
It's on Washington St right near the train track (and the commuter rail station).
I had dinner there one Saturday night about a month ago. It was pretty good, good value for sure, but I had hoped for more. I don't eat meat so fish or veg is what I look for on menus and I was dissapointed in there not being more fish offerings. But what I got was very good, a dish that had rice and shellfish and a firmfish, like a Portagee version of Palella. The bread was terrible, that soft white spongey stuff, not worthy to mop up the broth.
The place was hopping, people seem to like it. The space is nice and there is a separate bar area to wait in or eat at. I think the folks who used to own or cook at the now closed Ocean Boulevard place are here now and the food/menu, I think, is fairly similiar to what that was. I guess I hoped it would be one step above, more like Atasca in terms for the food offerings.
In any event, I am sure I will give it another go.
Thanks for this posting; now I'll have to go. I was in Gloucester the past two nights, and the big white building certainly stood out like a white beacon on Washington Street. It's easy to find: take the 'downtown Gloucester' (that's Washington St.) exit from the first traffic circle at the end of rt. 128 - then look up at the brightly lit, gleaming white building on your left that says "Azorean' in large black script on the side of the building. The parking lot was full on both the Monday and the Tuesday night, so I wondered what the attraction was! Now I have to go have a sandwich....