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Feb 3, 2009 06:03 AM

Searching Boston for a Francesinha (Portuguese)

Having tasted this beauty once in London, I'm eager to sample it again and figure that the Portuguese population of Greater Boston may be sufficient enough for this gem to exist somewhere nearby. Has anyone seen this veritable king of sandwiches on menus around town?

From wikipedia:
Francesinha (meaning Little French Girl in Portuguese) is a Portuguese sandwich originally from Porto, made with bread, wet-cured ham, linguiƧa, fresh sausage like chipolata, steak or roast meat and covered with molten cheese and a hot thick tomato and beer sauce.

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  1. Have you explored the restaurants on Cambridge Street in East Cambridge?

    2 Replies
    1. re: kate used to be 50

      No luck at Casa Portugal last time I was there

      1. re: teaTomE

        I have had my eye out for a local version in the area (Cambridge, Lowell, South Coast, a bit Peabody)... no luck. A lot of places don't even carry Portuguese cured presunto -- either not having it at all, or substituting domestic prosciutto, even though Portuguese-style presunto is available locally cured. Portugualia has most of the components, but doesn't offer this.

        In any case, don't over look the Portuguese Man-o-War ... and its worth a trip to the South Coast (or maybe out to Leominster) for other local sandwiches like ones based on Cacoila .

    2. I think that problem is that this is a dish from Oporto, while the majority of the "Portuguese" in the area hail from the Azores, Cape Verde, Brazil, etc.

      I've only seen it once in the states, at a since closed Portuguese restaurant on 46th St. in Manhattan. There's a FC Porto club in Newark, NJ (which has a huge Portuguese population), and I heard a rumor that they had it, but it's a closed club and has since moved since I first heard about it.

      I had several in Oporto and they're absolutely brilliant, though perhaps it's a good thing it's been 5 years since I last had one.

      6 Replies
      1. re: lambretta76

        Many of the Portuguese restaurant owners in the Cambridge area are from mainland Portugual. In fact Azorean specialties are somewhat rare in the restaurants here, although there was a large Azorean population until recently. Portugalia in Cambridge definitely focuses on Northern Portugal. Most recent immigration has gone to the South Coast, which is overwhelmingly from the islands Azores, Cabo Verde, Madeira, plus some Angolan. Around here I have eaten at a number of the private clubs, but no francesinha... and never seen it at a Portugal Day event or anything. So we share the same skepticism, but its not a bad thing, eating Portuguese food here is a great convenience, but its not equal to it in Portugal and its always good to have a reason to visit!

        1. re: itaunas

          I think you'd need quite a high volume to make offering it worthwhile.

          1. re: Aromatherapy

            A single sandwich is pretty "high volume" ;)

            I'll have to try out Portugalia when I'm up next - though I'm shocked that don't do tripe. (A nickname for Portuguese hailing from Oporto is Tripeiros, or tripe-eaters.)

            1. re: lambretta76

              Far as I can tell only the Snack Bar and J&J have dobrada on the menu, locally.

              1. re: Aromatherapy

                Sunset also serves dobradinha, so its about 50% of the Portuguese restaurants in Cambridge/Somerville (more if you consider the social clubs). :-) Some use white beans, some red.

                Portugalia may think its redundant with feijoada de marisco, dunno. In any case, its probably better they do not serve it as I have had really poor luck with their meat dishes (a basic bife a portugesa is safest, but even that has been served unseasoned or otherwise messed up). Their specialties are salt cod and some seafood (don't get the camarao a africana, thats definitely better at sunset).

                1. re: Aromatherapy

                  Snack Bar were pretty skeptical when I asked if anywhere else local would have it. They doubted Portugalia or Casa Portugal would have it.

                  Snack Bar are from the Azores themselves. Their Portuguese Man-o-War sub is high-volume but not that appealing. Too dry.

        2. Out of curiosity, is there interest from local hounds in trying out a few recipes for a francesinha some weekend (roughly thinking of the weekend before or weekend
          after easter)? I can translate some recipes from the Portuguese for discussion in email and we could figure out where to go from there. Please no replies to the board, my email is in my profile.

          1 Reply
          1. re: itaunas

            I had these at my own house, which was located in Central Sq, Cambridge, in 2006 :-) My roommate was from Matosinhos, just north of oporto. God they were good.

            The hard part is to do the sauce... maybe I can try and make some attempts at making the sauce... the meats we can do with what we can find :)

            ps: i'm portuguese and lived 1 year in oporto. gained a lot of weight due to these little precious culinary bombs :)