Portas da Cidade (translated as "Gates to the City") is a reference to the symbolic entrance to the city of Porta Delgada, the administrative capital of the Azores, located on the island of São Miguel. Though you'll find a replica of the structure in Fall River, down near Battleship Cove, the restaurant of the same name is located a couple of miles down Route 6 in Westport, MA.
I wasn't familiar with the restaurant and found it online via Facebook (Portas Da Cidade Facebook page). So on a Friday night, a friend and I went to try it out. Picking up Route 6 just off the Brayton Ave/Eastern Ave corner, we drove a few minutes east and found it on out right.
It's a stand alone building, wide left to right, with the dining room on the left and what was a pretty active lounge area on the right. The interior is simple, but nice with a cozy and casual atmosphere. Service was timely and friendly and after looking through a pretty familiar and expected menu we ordered a couple of appetizers and our main course. I'm generally not too picky with my wine selection, so I just ordered the house red, a Portuguese red, though the selection is pretty good if you're looking for something more.
Amêijoas à Espanhola and lulas fritas
Admittedly, I walk into a restaurant pretty hungry and end up ordering more than I can or should eat. And like at any good restaurant, you can get quite satisfied with the appetizers, especially if there's lots of good sauce or broth for dunking bread—such a weakness! One of the appetizers was calamari and it was great; just enough bread crumb to be crispy and still be light. It was served with hot pepper rings and a thin and tangy sauce on the side. The other app we tried was the Amêijoas à Espanhola, which is generally clams in shell in some kind of tomato, onion and garlic based broth with some sliced chouriço. This has become one of my favorites in any Portuguese restaurants. As a kid, I'd often hear my dad saying that the sauce was the best part of any meal - and as a kid I never got that. But now, I tend to agree with that statement, especially with this dish as I find myself going through one or two Portuguese breads (papo secos) just to get at the broth. Here the broth was richer in flavor than most because of the amount of onion used. The flavor was deep, like that of a French onion soup, and I couldn't get enough of it.
Espetada à Madeirense
After a short break from eating, come the main course. I had ordered the Espetada à Madeirense (shish-ka-bob) on the servers recommendation. They serve it Madeiran style - on a skewer the length of a sword. Five fist-sized chunks of well-seasoned and grilled beef, with the usual fries, rice and vegetables on the side. The meat was lean and had one of my favorite flavorings - charred blackened bits along the edges. Portuguese meals, especially at restaurants, tend to be a little light on the vegetables. Here, I really like the green beans on my plate. They were cooked well and retained the natural good flavor of beans you would expect from a home garden. And toward the end, as much as I enjoyed the meal, I did have a hard time finishing. I know some people like to take home a doggie bag, but I don't.
There were a lot of couples in the dining room and of all ages. Though there is a lounge on one side of the building, I would certainly classify Portas Da Cidade as a family restaurant. From time to time you could catch a little of the karaoke going on, but thankfully, the mic was on 10. Frankly, it looked like a fun spot and the people looked like a friendly, easy-going bunch. I'm happy I found this spot and look forward to returning shortly.
231 State Road (Route 6, East)