One of the of great extra pleasures I experienced while in college on a semester abroad in Lisbon Portugal was the opportunity to explore Portuguese food in the city and throughout the different regions of the country. In Lisbon itself, I ended finding number of spots that I would end up frequenting with friends with regularity. The night life in Lisbon today is much more active and varied since the days before Portugal joined the EU. But even then, the neighborhoods of Bairro Alto and Alfama came to life at night with droves of young people enjoying life in this beautiful city. For me and my friends, many of whom came to Lisbon from countries like Greece, Poland, Italy, Peru, Japan and other, going to the Cape Verdean night club, The Ritz, for dancing and ending the night at a "secret" restaurant in a private home called "Cachupa" for a hearty meal at four in the morning. The first time I went there I asked for a menu, after which my friends laughed - Cachupa specialized in one dish only, Cachupa. The dish was a sort of stew of corn, beans and meat that was served with some boiled greens and fried eggs. It's considered the national dish of Cape Verde and there are many variations, but this one was perfect after a long night of dancing and drinking in Lisbon.
I had heard about Rosinha's from a friend who was telling me about the large developed mill in Pawtucket in which the restaurant is located. After looking them up online, I learned that they had cachupa! So, a friend and I went to check it out. Like many old mill towns, Pawtucket has seen a wave a new development in the old mills which are often renovated into luxury apartments, artists' studio spaces, retail stores, and office space - and in this case at the Hope Artiste Village, a mix of everything. We parked in their lot, across the street, and enter the large building. Rosinha's is immediately on your right open entering. Looking in I could see that it was a large space, rather elegantly decorated with a long bar on the left wall of the expansive dining room. The tables, which varied in size and shape. were nicely appointed and spaced well from each other. Far in the back of the room, I could see a small stage and dance floor. We were quickly seated and after ordering a glass, perused the menu.
After a few minutes, I spoke to our server and was saddened to learn that there was no cachupa on this night. Apparently, you need to make it a large batches, so like lots of other great dishes, it's not entirely "restaurant ready". But, that's OK, because there were plenty of other things on the menu that got my attention.
Rissóis de camarão and Pastéis de Bacalhau
We orders a couple of appetizers, shrimp rissois and cod fish cakes. Now, plenty of people have had cod fish cakes and if you get them as soon as they're cooked and still super hot, they are awesome. And these were great. Rissois? In Portuguese cuisine, there's not much for breakfast. In fact, there is no real breakfast like we know it in the US. There's coffee, pastry, some bread, cheese and maybe a simple sandwich. But there are also pasteis (pastries), not the custard desserts, but savory pastries that can be filled with chicken, beef or shrimp. There are all kinds of shapes and sizes, too. Shrimp Rissois tend to look all the same - a sort of shrimp empenada - a folded piece of dough stuffed with a shrimp filling then deep fried. You can have them any time, but they're very common around breakfast and lunch time. I would have one everyday with an espresso when I lived in Portugal. I love them, and I loved the these at Rosinha's which may have been even better because they were served hot, real hot.
Mariscada and Lombinhos de Porco
So, a few minutes after our appetizers came our main course. I had the Mariscada (seafood stew) and my friend had the Lombinhos de Porco (grilled pork cutlets). Being an island nation on the Atlantic, you know a Cape Verdean restaurant is going to know how to make a good seafood dish, and this one was great. With a half a lobster, lots of little necks, shrimp and calamari, this dish was pretty luxurious. The tomato based broth was well seasoned and flavored by the season, so I dunks quite a bit of bread into it. I was happy that there was not too much calamari. I like calamari, but some restaurants, (non-Portuguese restaurants) tend to put way too much calamari in seafood stews and little of the other more interesting things like clams or fish or shrimp. My friend's plate looked really good, too, with grilled pork cutlets under a rich brown garlic sauce and a side of fries and rice.
Toward the end of our meal, we could see and hear the band set up at the back end of the room. I ended my meal with a coffee and caught some of the band's show. There were many couple in Rosinha's this night, Salsa night, and the dance floor filled quickly after the music started to play. Everyone was having a great time. The space is well suited for this with the band and dance floor positioned in the back of the restaurant, couples can stay seated and enjoy the music or take a short walk over to the dance floor and burn of some of a few calories. It was all nicely done.
Rosinha's is a great addition to all the options available for great Portuguese, and Cape Verdean, food in the area. It makes a great date to on the weekends. And like my younger days in Lisbon, Rosinha's offers good food and good music, in one place. I'm planning my return soon - coming back for that cachupa! Part II to come.
999 Main Street
Pawtucket RI 02860