Portugal without a Passport: The Ironbound

Rich in gastronomic treasures, Portugal might be closer than you think. Experience the best of Portuguese gourmet delights without ever having to board a plane.

By Carolyn Haitsch

IMG_0782[1]Teixeira’s Bakery

Looking for a fun and delicious way to spend an afternoon in the tri-state area? Head to the Ironbound, a vibrant Portuguese neighborhood in Newark, New Jersey. Ferry Street, the commercial heart of the area, is lined with Portuguese, Spanish and Brazilian restaurants as well as Portuguese-owned cafes, groceries and bakeries. Definitely worthy of an international food crawl. Each year in June, nearly half a million people flock to the area for Portugal Day, a celebration of Portuguese culture. Others choose to stroll the safe and quaint streets on quieter days to soak up the local color and dig into some authentic South American cuisine.

It’s the place where the movies Wise Guys, The Karate Kid and Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt were filmed as well as the hometown of Tony Soprano from the HBO series The Sopranos. But beyond that, it’s a place to enjoy a little Portuguese culture and as well as some authentic gourmet delights. Below are a few stops not to miss when in the Ironbound.

Teixeira’s Bakery

If you were to stop only here on your trip to the Ironbound, your journey would be well worth it. This Portuguese bakery offers beautifully authentic handmade artisan breads including Broa, Portuguese corn bread, extra-dense with a rich corn flavor, made from cornmeal, white flour and a bit of rye; Papo seco, the traditional Portuguese roll, fresh, light in color and the National bread of Portugal; and Mealhada, a medium-weight bread with a sourdough taste.

But the real reason to stand on the long line at Teixeira’s is to sink your teeth into the Pastel de nata, custard filled pastry cups, invented over two centuries ago at a monastery in Belem, just outside Lisbon. They aren’t just good, they’re crazy good. The perfectly dense flaky crust is filled with a not-too-sweet custard and goes down just a little too easy. There’s no stopping at one, so a box of these creamy delights is a must. Smart shoppers buy two since they disappear quickly and the price is right–$13.99 a dozen.

549448_515517421824650_654512999_n[1]Pastel de nata

IMG_0776[1]Papo seco

IMG_0772[1]Broa

IMG_0787[1]Handmade Portuguese-style tiles at the entrance of Teixeira’s Bakery

Lopes Sausage

304 Walnut Street
Newark, NJ
973-344-3063
(5 minute walk from Teixeira’s Bakery)

Lopes Sausage is a family-run sausage manufacturer specializing in smoked Portuguese sausages. Just walking into this store is an experience. A long line of gorgeous hams hang behind the counter and a variety of sausages are loaded in the front cases. Sausage offerings include Chourico (lean in texture, smoked to finish and best enjoyed sliced and eaten as is or in long-cooking stews), Linguica (a fattier sausage with more paprika presence and great grilled or sautéed) and Salpicao (a larger version of the Linguica but with less paprika and wine and more natural pork flavor; great sliced in sandwiches). They sell other pork and beef products as well, and rumor has it they sell directly to the White House. Samples were delicious and sausages were well worth lugging home.

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Restaurants

The Ironbound has plenty of Portuguese, Spanish, Ecuadorian, and Mexican restaurants. Below are a few suggestions when looking to satisfy a Portuguese or Spanish craving.

Seabra’s Marisqueira

Seabra’s is a Portuguese restaurant specializing in fresh seafood. And fresh it is! Some of their offerings are flown in direct from Portugal. Try their chilled octopus salad, so good.

Seabra’s Marisueira
Traditional Portuguese Seafood
87 Madison Street, Newark, NJ
973-465-1250
(7 minute walk from Lopes Sausage)

IMG_0790[1]Shrimp and Codfish Fritters

IMG_0796[1]Octopus Salad

Sol-Mar Restaurant

Authentic Portuguese Cuisine
267 Ferry Street
973-344-3041

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Casa Vasca

141 Elm Street
973-465-1350
Spanish. Big portions of traditional Basque dishes.

o[1]Yelp.com

Coimbra Bar & Restaurant

Suckling pig Bairrada style.
637-641 Market Street
973-491-9811

pigs

Getting there…

The Ironbound is 4 square miles, east of Pennsylvania Station and between the Newark Liberty International Airport and the Passaic River. Drive in, take a taxi ride from Newark airport or hop a train from Penn Station in New York City (a train stop is right on the edge of the Ironbound).

Carolyn Haitsch

Love of food and wine led her back to NYC where she spent years developing recipe collections, attending culinary classes, and searching out the best restaurants in Union Square. When not in the Honest Cooking editorial offices, she can be found in Connecticut doing what she loves best–cooking for family and friends and dreaming up her next culinary adventure.

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6 Comments
  1. YES, THE IRONBOUND IS FULL OF A RICH PORTUGUESE CULTURE WHERE YOU CAN TASTE ALL THE DELICACIES OF PORTUGAL RIGHT ON FERRY STREET ESPECIALLY AT TEIXEIRA’S BAKERY, BUT YOU FORGOT TO MENTION THE AUTHENTIC PORTUGUESE ATMOSPHERE BY THE HANDMADE PORTUGUESE STYLE TILES THAT ADORN THE ENTIRE BAKERY. THESE ARE ALSO ARTISAN AND WERE MADE BY A PORTUGUESE ARTIT WHO LIVES IN NEW JERSEY BY THE NAME OF FERNANDO SILVA. AT A LOCAL RESTAURANT, CASA SEABRA, YOU CAN ALSO FIND HIS HAND MADE AND HAND PAINTED TILE MURALS DEPICTING DIFFERENT SCENES OF PORTUGUESE CULTURE INCLUDING OIL AND WATERCOLOR PAINTINGS OF LOCALITIES IN PORTUGAL. THIS GIVES ANYONE WHO IS VISITING A REAL FEEL OF PORTUGAL.

  2. You are correct! The tiles are beautiful and do add to the authentic Portuguese atmosphere. I added a photo I took of the tile at the entrance; more tiles can be seen in the photo of the bakery. Thank you for the information on the artist!

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