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Restaurants & Bars

Antonio's Portuquese, New Bedford

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Antonio's Portuquese, New Bedford

galleygirl | Aug 4, 2003 12:57 PM

Everytime Portuguese food in New Bedford gets brought up, someone says, "Well, of course there's Antonio's", and someone else will respond, "Oh yes, Antonio's". So, since everyone seems to know Antonio's except me, I took advantage of a hungry Non-Portuquese-eating friend's desperation while antiqueing in NB to finally get there....

For those of you who antique in NB, Antonio's is conveniently located 2 blocks from New Bedford Antiques, the huge group shop you can see from the hiway, 1 exit from the New Bedford National Historic Park...Not as good as it used to be, but only a few blocks from the newer, Acushnet River Antiques, another group shop that was full of good stuff...

But enough of this, 5 hours of antiqueing had us *starved*, so I asked a local where A's was...She perked right up, directed me, and gushed, "Oh, I love that Chicken Antonios' with Shrimp, and that sauce"....

So, off we went...It looked like my kinda place, a bar-room/neighborhood casual, non-dive...(NB:Cash only) Full of locals, from familes, to couples on dates, to white-haired gay couples...

The food, to coin a phrase, was red-sauce Portuguese....Not that everything was sauced, or even that the sauce was red, but it was that kind of Ethnic/American version of the original, that will appeal to both. I mean, our waitress was speaking to everyone in Portuguese, but my Portu-phobic friend loved the place...

The menu was huge, in Portuguese and English. Things started out on the right foot, with a surprisingly up-to-date and *reasonable* wine list...We had a bottle of Barba, a white from the Alentejo region, for $12....Only a few bucks more than retail! It was sharp, crisp, and dry, a big hit. And a big surprise for my friend, who thinks all Portuguese whites are Vinho verdes.

The next happy surprise were the pasteis de bacalhoa, their fried salted-codfish cakes. Just order and don't translate the "salted cod" part to your friends(g)...They were about half-fish, three-inch long footballs, straight from the fryer, and better than any version I've had in Boston lately, where everyone seems to be buying their potato-heavy versions from the same Portuguese restaurant supplier. (How do you say Sysco in Portuguese?)

As my friend inhaled his second one, he asked, "So, what are these again?" 75 cents a piece. As cheap as the streets of Lisbon...

The menu included lots of grilled meats, pork chops, lamb chops chicken, espeidas(skewers) and fish. There was even a special of roasted pork loin, and duck!..No octopus[;(], but three different versions of sauteed littlenecks, a few of mussels,and a few variations of the Portuquese chorizo-clam combo...There was only one caldeirada offered, at $19.95, the highest price on the menu, but it had a lobster in it,and I'm always too lazy to dig around in a broth-drenched crustacean in public(g). I'm used to a few variation of this dish...No salted cod preparations besides boiled or grilled.

The red-sauce comes in on the stewed, sauteed and braised dishes..It seemed like a pretty good sauce/broth, BTW, orangey with saffron, tasting of peppers more than garlic, lots of EVOO and wine. My friend quite liked it; he had the recommended Chicken Antonio's with shrimp, sauteed in "the sauce", and totally covered with a MOUND of those wonderful Portuguese fried potatoes...But I did notice that half the dishes coming out of the kitchen had "the sauce" on them...

They also had huge amounts of food on them, and not the Familia Giorgios' kind of amount, where there's a pound of pasta, and not much else...It was the kind of amount where you have enough protein for lunch the next day. In fact, every platter coming out of the kitchen could have fed two..

I mean, there's *no* reason a person needs to eat eight perfectly-grilled sardines, is there? Which was why I stopped at 5...After all my whining about red-sauce, I had the most quintessential of Portuguese meals; grilled whole sardines, and potatoes boiled with a little olive oil, with a salad... For $8.95!!!!!!! The fish were fresh, tasty, just brushed with olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon. Better the the ones I had at Lupa a few weeks ago(sorry, Mario my luv), better than I've had in the Cambridge places, as good as my favorite, O'Fado in Peabody...

And the killer was, with the bottle of wine, two dinners, apps and a tip, we walked out for $42, with two lunches for today.

So, should you drive over an hour from Boston just for Antonio's? No, but if you live closer, or surf, sand, sightseeing and shopping bring you down there, definitely go. Hell, I'd sit at the bar and gorge on those pasteis de bacalhao and wine bargains all day long(g).

So, now that I know what to expect at Antonio's, what other Portuguese restaurants ARE there down there?

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