C O R I S C O. I think most Portuguese guys who grew up in Fall River will recognize the word. I heard it often throughout my childhood. It was usually directed toward me from my mother after I got in trouble, like the time I crashed into the kitchen television and it smashed onto to the floor. "C O R I S C O, . . ." Whenever the word was spoken, It always sounded bad — a venomous utterance followed by an equally poisonous-sounding string of exclamations, so I presumed it was some kind of Portuguese swear word. It wasn't until I was in my twenties that I learned that Corisco is the nickname given to anyone from the São Miguel island in the Azores. Each island has a nickname for its habitants. I guess it's something like the word yankee for anyone from New England (or the northeast). I was relieved to learn how banal the word actually is, or is it.
Here's another word: chouriço. In Fall River, everyone knows this sausage as a staple in Portuguese food. It finds its way into soup, roasts, sandwiches, turkey stuffing, seafood dishes, bean casseroles, spaghetti sauce, everywhere. But, after decades of eating this quintessential Portuguese sausage in an infinite number preparations, this small, easily-overlooked restaurant, the Fall River Grill, in the Corky Row neighborhood of Fall River, served to me what immediately became my favorite way of eating chouriço; Chouriço à Corisco.
Chouriço à Corisco
This dish, served here as an appetizer, is absolutely loaded with pepper. It's as fiery as any curse word could ever be. However, the intense heat is not the kind that burns your sinuses like wasabi and makes you choke or sneeze. It's the kind that heats up the flesh in your mouth and makes you tighten your jaw and press your tongue to the roof of your mouth so that the heat intensifies even further, as if it were a devilish and forbidden secret pleasure. The sauce is hot, but also sweet. It's totally additive and deep with the flavor of pepper (not just the heat) and matches well with the flavor of the chouriço. I spooned this sauce onto my bread and made an impromptu chouriço sandwich. So so good.
The Fall River Grill is a popular take-out restaurant in the city, and I've had many of the more simpler dishes at various family gatherings. There are two entrances to the building. The door on Second Street leads directly into the dining room which is attractive and reminiscent of the small restaurants you find in the Azores and Portugal. There is a small parking lot on the Rodman Street side with an entrance into the bar.
Bacalhau na Telha
On this visit, I ventured beyond my usual and ordered a salt cod dish, Bacalhau na Telha, for my entrée. Served in a earthenware cooking vessel, similar in appearance to the tiles used in Mediterranean roofing, the presentation at the table is fun and creative. The large piece of fish is soft and flaky, and accompanied by two large boiled potatoes, bacon, chouriço, lots of caramelized onions and hot green peppers, all in olive oil. The flavors are strong and colorful with the onions really enriching the overall character. Now, this is salt cod, so the fish is pretty salty, and for me, too salty — I don't even put salt on french fries. But for most people the salt content is probably just fine. This might be the reason why I had to drink more Sagres beer than is normal for me.
Lombo de Porco Recheado
The Lombo de Porco Recheado, pork loin stuffed with chouriço, of course, is a hearty meal served with a tangy and spicy sauce. It's one of my favorites at Fall River Grill and I've had it many times. The pork is fork tender and the sauce is perfect for dunking your bread... and here's the warning. The sauces in all the dishes are really good; so good that you run the risk of stuffing yourself with bread and not being able to finish your meal, which is what happened to me. In this state of over satiation, unfortunately, dessert was out of the question. So, reach for the bread, but not too often.
So, in closing, this dinner was a nice surprise. The menu is longer and more interesting than most other restaurants. The preparation is more modern and flavorful, too, with flavors packing a stronger punch than your traditional family restaurant. This is a great place for a late lunch or early dinner on a Saturday or Sunday. I'd recommend getting a table in the dining room which is quiet, clean and very comfortable. The bar is a bit noisy and crowded. And get the Chouriço à Corisco, too.
363 Second Street
Fall River MA