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Update on J&J: Portuguese in Somerville (long)


Restaurants & Bars

Update on J&J: Portuguese in Somerville (long)

Aromatherapy | May 27, 2004 12:49 PM

Add J&J to the list of solid Somerville neighborhood joints. I think this is the local equivalent of the little places Louis posts about on the New England board. I can’t really see driving across metro Boston to eat here, but I find myself crossing Somerville often enough. See the link for my previous writeup and address etc. Warning: if you’re salt-averse, this isn’t the cuisine or the restaurant for you. The Portuguese have a heavy hand with salt. I love salt.

Another warning: takeout is packed in Styrofoam clamshells, the kind that barely clip closed. Be very very careful.

A few changes: The complimentary gizzard appetizer now comes without chickpeas—nobody was eating them. Pity. (And they may ask if you want the gizzards—dang fools aren’t eating those either.) Alternatively, you may get a saucer of sliced sausage. Vegetarians could try asking for bean salad—they may be able to do one, I know they have the vinaigrette.

The large glass of decent red is up to $3. No complaints. They have a selection of wines by the bottle (and some halves), about half a dozen each of red and white, displayed on shelves too far away to read the labels. No list. I do know that a half of Casal Garcia vinho verde was $7 recently. I would be very surprised if prices weren’t reasonable, but haven’t investigated.

Last night’s off-menu special was “Filete de peixe a moda de chef w/arroz & veg.” Which proved to be cod (I think) lightly breaded or battered and pan-fried, topped with mixed pickled vegetables, with the usual tasty rice cooked in broth and their standard green vegetable, green beans with garlic and olive oil. $7.35 with tax. Perfectly cooked, yummy, and should have fed two (blush).

Other dishes I’ve tried (all except the shrimp made at least 2 meals; prices are from the takeout menu, most dishes are $1 more sit-down):

Carne alentejana (pork w/clams), $9: Cubes of decently fatty sauteed pork, cubed deep-fried spuds, and a half-dozen littlenecks/cherrystones. Not much sauce, not particularly winey, but plenty of garlic. Topped with a scatter of vinegary mixed pickled vegetables and a few olives. Greasy and delicious. Hmm, I’ve yet to see cilantro at J&J. Perhaps in the clams a bulho pato?

Bacalhau assado, $10: Grilled salt cod with raw onions & green peppers in oil, and boiled potates.. This was really good. A big chunk of fillet, not overly salt-cod tasting, tender and flaky with the extra density of salt cod. The onions & peppers had an effect rather like raw onion w/smoked fish. I got it takeout and added a splash of vinegar. (They have 2 other salt cod dishes on the regular menu—cozido and a lagareiro.)

Camarao a casa (shrimp), $11: 5 jumbo shrimp, sautéed, with I believe a light white wine sauce with garlic and a bit of tomato. With homemade fries (thin half-moons, different from “French fries,” which are standard frozen but decent) and rice (but I subbed green beans for the rice). Nice, nothing wrong with it but I doubt I’ll bother again.

Arroz de marisco, $14: A caldeira full of rice, half a lobster, lots of clams, shrimp, scallops, mussels. All perfectly cooked (but pull them out of the rice quickly). I think there were probably some sausage slices as well. Huge, you need 2 people. Can’t say it was extraordinary but it was awfully good.

Febras de porco, $7: Three thin cuts of pork, grilled well-done but still juicy, brushed with a sauce of sautéed minced garlic and pickled red peppers—just enough pepper to give a tangy bite. Served with rice and French fries. Leftovers made excellent sandwiches.

Lombo de porco (roast pork) (only as a special, $7): Boneless loin cooked well-done, which I just don’t care for. About as well-flavored as you can get boneless loin well-done, but still. With rice and FF or veg.

They only have a few desserts: bought pasteis de nata, chocolate mousse, and flan. I tried the flan, which is obviously homemade and pretty good, $2.50. An alternative might be a glass of port from one of the several open bottles.

The kitchen closes at 8. I’ve been able to order takeout at 7:45.

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