My husband and I had a really enjoyable dinner at Primavera in Ludlow on Thursday. This isn't a fine dining destination but the food is tasty and inexpensive, and the young servers were almost shockingly sweet and helpful. For instance, we ordered an appetizer of flaming chourica sausage, which actually arrived in a pig-shaped flaming dish. My husband happened to be in the bathroom when it came out and I mentioned that he was going to be sorry he missed the spectacle, so one kept an eye on it so it wouldn't get too burnt while one went to keep watch and hurry him down the hall. Later he said he wished he had thought to take a picture of it w/ his cell phone but we had already blown out the flame - a nearby server overheard and then offered to light it again (we didn't.) As I write this I realize that this might come off badly elsewhere, but the mood was friendly and light-hearted and we were completely charmed by them.
The meals all come with a free cup of soup - that night's was vegetable, which we thought would be blah but turned out to be rich and creamy. A note to any vegetarians, there is no way this was a vegetarian stock. We then had the sausage (nicely spiced and crisp - the flaming is actually a nice touch, flavor-wise) and some cod cakes. I found the cod cakes a bit disappointingly bland, and we ordered a carafe of wine after seeing a bunch of what looked like a table of regulars drinking it - that turned out to be not such a good idea. They have a limited but inexpensive and mostly Portuguese wine list, and I would try something else next time.
Our entrees were a stew of monkfish with some shrimp and mussels over rice (rice cooked in the dish plus an extra plate of rice) and a daily special of tripe, sausage and white beans (and possibly some other vegetables.) Both came in dutch ovens and were huge portions. Were it not for the fun of trying more tastes, there would be every reason to split one between the two of us in the future. The flavors were rich and complex - I was hard-pressed not to overeat because it was all so tasty.
Total bill - something like $55 plus tip.
Incidentally, they are doing some construction to expand.
Primavera is my favorite Portuguese restaurant in the area. Usually go for lunch 2 or 3 times a month and then once a month for dinner. Although a good portion of the customers are of Portuguese decent, I have always felt welcome here. I agree with you on the house wine- I tried it and didnt care for it either. We now always order a bottle of the Monte Velho -its a reasonably priced red table wine from Portugal (you can order it by the 1/2 bottle to see if you like it).
Favorite meals are the Febras (pork strips), Grilled Halibut and (when I am really hungry) the Mixed Grill. Its a large shish-ka-bob of steak, chicken, pork and sausage. Although they dont advertise it on the menu, there's usually a 50/50 chance that they have broccoli rabe on hand. I always ask to see if I can get this for the vegetable. The slightly bitter taste blends wonderfully with the rice and the meat juices.
Usually relax after dinner with a couple expressos and a Portuguese mineral water. Have never ordered dessert so I cant comment on that.
If going on Friday or Sat., night, would probably be best to call ahead for a reservation. Usually no wait during midweek. website www.primaverarestaurante.com