Just a couple of blocks over the Fall River-Tiverton line, which also serves as a Massachusetts-Rhode Island border, you'll find the Primavera Restaurant. If you've been to the Primavera (Portuguese for "spring") it's likely that you were attending a wedding or baptismal reception, or even a birthday party. I've eaten there a couple of times, and each occasion was a reception for a family event. Most of the simple and roomy interior is a banquet room, with a small dining room area adjacent to the bar. The food was served family style with large platters of typical Portuguese "event" food, like roasted potatoes, roast beef, roasted chicken, carne de porco a Alentejana, breaded fish fillets, bacalhau, fries, rice, etc. All of it, really good.
So this time, I went with a friend on no particular occasion, just as a hungry diner looking for some good Portuguese food. Of course, upon entering, we could see there was a good size wedding reception going on in the banquet area with plenty of people eating and drinking and having what looked like a really good time. So, we had a seat, ordered a couple of drinks and checked out the menu while the revelers celebrated the young couples union.
I ordered a half bottle of one of my 'go-to" wines, Grão Vasco. This is nice, full-bodied red table wine that is also very affordable. Looking through the menu, it was obvious that affordability was a main ingredient in most of the dishes. It was great to see that the majority of entrées were just $10.95. That's is a major bargain. It was also great to see some unusual Portuguese dishes on the menu like octopus and quail, not to be confused with the similar sounding Portuguese word for rabbit, "coelho".
We ordered the amêijoas (little neck clams) for starters. Most places serve smaller size clams, but these were a little larger, though they were not quite quahogs. I prefer this larger, meatier and more savory variety, though perhaps the smaller ones are a little sweeter. The broth was basic, but good, and good enough to risk filling up to soon from continuos bread dunking. That's something I always have to be careful of not over doing! The caramelized onions added a nice sweetness helped counter the saltiness of the broth.
One of my absolute favorite dishes that my mother would make when I was a kid was quail. These small birds are part of the pheasant family and, like pheasant, have always been considered a delicacy throughout all Europe, as much as for the meat as the eggs. My father loved them and especially loved the eggs. I loved the meat. Generally, in Portuguese cuisine quail is sautéed or fried first. Then a sauce is made, usually in the same pan, with a little white wine, garlic, maybe lemon, and picante pepper of some kind, often piri-piri. Then the two are joined and you have yummy quail heaven. Quail is small and its bones are thin and brittle. I generally crunch through them like a great white shark. The meat is slightly dark — and does not taste like chicken. It's meatier, more savory and much more tender. At Primavera, the serving contained four whole birds, with a side of fries. The sauce was good, though not as tangy and spicy and I like - like my mother used to make!
The meal was great and I savored it - even ordering a second half bottle. All the while, the party. You know, Hully Gully line dancing, Portuguese pimba, some samba, some pop. It was fun and if I knew how to Hully Gully, I may have even joined in. But thankfully for me and everyone else, I didn't.
118 Main Road
Tiverton RI 02878-1133