New Bedford, Massachusetts is a distinct American city with a long and important history. It is home to the nation's top seafood port, based on dollar value (Dutch Harbor Unalaska is the largest based on tonnage), and is the largest U.S. source of sea scallops. The city is a mini melting pot rich with ethnic communities including Portuguese (Azores and Madeira), Cape Verdean, Irish, French, Puerto Rican and English. It is also home to the largest Portuguese feast in world, the Feast of the Blessed Sacrament.
Antonio's Restaurant is a quick one minute off I-195. The restaurant is split between a large main dining room and a just-as-roomy bar/dining space. A plaque on the wall humbly celebrates António's inclusion in a feature in Bon Appetite magazine on the finest ethnic restaurants in the country. On the adjacent wall sits framed photos of restaurant's the owners with perhaps their most famous guest, including Martha Stewart who just paid a visit this past summer (see Martha Stewart feature here).
Dining in New Bedford is a great opportunity to enjoy some of the nations best and most fresh seafood. António's has a interesting and varied selection of seafood choices. I started with the traditional lulas fritas. The plumb and flavorful rings of calamari were lightly battered and served fried with hot pepper rings, and a horseradish and ketchup dipping sauce that you'd most often associate with shrimp cocktail.
The Mariscada à António is the kind of dish the arrives with tools - a large serving spoon, a nut cracker, a bowl for empty shells and extra napkins. A large pot was served full of beautiful seafood including an entire lobster (quartered), lush local scallops, mussels (twice the size I've seen anywhere else) and clams served in a still-bubbling, bright red tomato broth that was further flavored with chopped clams.
The rest of the menu is just as attractive with Antonio's signature dishes specially marked on the pages with those stars you used to get on your grade school papers. You'll also find traditional Portuguese dishes like Carne de Porco à Alentejana (Ribatejana, in this case) and a Bife à Casa served with very large sides of fries and rice. The wine list has many Portuguese imports and plenty of by-the-glass options including António's suggestions.
António's makes for a great stop on your way to Cape Cod. It's your chance for some fresh and American seafood prepared in traditional Luso-American recipes.
271 Coggeshall Street
New Bedford MA 02746-1922