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Friday, July 22, 2011

Restaurante Nova Pérola

I knew I was going to love this place when I wandered in there my first night in Portugal last month, sat down, asked the waiter which of the pratos do dia he would recommend, and... he told me! Waiters in Portugal especially are guilty of rarely answering that question in a straightforward manner. Usually the dialogue goes something like this:

“O que pode recomendar hoje?”
“Carne ou peixe?”

(Waiter starts listing the meat dishes off the menu.)

But on this first night in Costa da Caparica, my guy (the heavy-set one with glasses and the gruff demeanor, but don’t be daunted) told me: “feijoada à transmontana. É boa.” He was right. It was muito boa. The best Portuguese feijoada I had tried in a very long time.

Needless to say, I ate there a lot during my ensuing stay there. The ladies in the kitchen at Restaurante Nova Pérola know what they’re doing, and literally everything I tried was made with care and competence. Stick with the pratos do dia (daily specials), though, if at all possible—they tend to be the most interesting dishes, and their quality is practically assured (not that that is an issue here). The feijoada had more pork products per square inch than any dish I’ve had in recent memory. They do a very creditable chicken cabidela (my favorite traditional Portuguese dish: chicken stewed with its giblets, with rice cooked in the stewing liquid and some chicken blood added at the end). And on Sundays, their bacalhau à Duque de Palmela is a thing of beauty: a big chunk of soaked, previously-dried cod fried with onions, then slathered with mayonnaise, run under the broiler, and served surrounded by thin fried potato rounds. The best 9,50€ you’ll spend that week. Prices, obviously, are extremely reasonable (that feijoada pictured above? 7,00€).

It’s easy to find, right on the main drag adjacent to the mercado. Closed Mondays.

Restaurante Nova Pérola
Rua D.João VI – Mercado, Loja 11
2825-342 – Costa da Caparica, Portugal
(+351) 21 290 2723


Daddy said...

I had terrible difficulty finding good food when I was in Portugal. Perhaps it was because of the poverty of the region (the Minho). The bacalhau was quite delicious, and the meat usually excellent - but mostly I was frustrated by the vegetables and salads. Most meals came with about four kinds of starch: potatoes, fries, rice and bread, and even the shops were curiously short on vegetables, quite unlike just over the border in Galicia.
I was surprised not to find the sort of mediterranean vegetable dishes one finds in France and Italy, especially. Was I in the wrong region? Do enlighten me!

Mahlzeit! said...

Your observation is well-taken. Personally, I don't miss vegetables most of the time, and I detest almost all salads. There are no "Mediterranean" vegetable dishes at all in the north of Portugal that I can think of. Sometimes you can find a great dish of cabbage-like greens, though, the most traditional preparation being cooked in lard... yum!