Spago Restaurante Portuguese
By Jennifer Lewin
Walking into <b>Spago</b> is like walking into a family kitchen. The rich tones of the tapestry combine with the welcoming mood from the staff. And just like every kitchen has its specialty, at Spagoís it is authentic Portuguese cuisine. The Portuguese influence is not only illustrated by the menu, but is also apparent by the decor. Adorning the walls the colorful porcelain plates, the stringed instruments, and the grape harvesting mural all add to the Iberian ambience. The newspaper articles displayed behind the counter depict Spagoís importance to the Portuguese community. Watching the staff interact with each other was like watching siblings play. We felt like we were invited to someone elseís home for the night.
To begin our family evening out, we decided to split the Mezedes Appetizer Platter ($15.00), although I was tempted by the menuís interesting salad selection. Some of their more unique salads included fig, salmon, and tomato bocconcino. My daughter ordered chocolate milk ($2.25), while my husband ordered a Coke ($2.75). Portugueseís geographical location along the Atlantic coast, determines the menuís main fare Ė seafood. However, there is a smaller variety of veal, pork, and chicken dishes for the land-lovers.
We adore seafood and had a hard time deciding from the extensive menu. With the serverís help I decided on the Bacalhau a Bras ($18.00), a cod dish. My husband, who was eyeing the pastas, chose the Seashell Portuguesa ($18.00). Finally, my daughter decided on the childrenís spaghetti dish ($3.95). With the difficult task of choosing behind us, all we needed to do was wait.
It was a little while before our appetizer arrived, but it was well worth it. The simple platter contained hummus, baba ganoush, stuffed grape leaves, and spanakopita served with pita bread. Both dips, the hummus and baba ganoush were freshly prepared and tasted delightful with the hot pita. I was particularly impressed with the baba ganoush. This eggplant dip was heavily flavoured with parsley and lemon juice that was refreshingly tangy. The ground beef and rice stuffed grape leaves left a satisfyingly sharp-taste in my mouth. However, the spanakopita stole the show. Hot and buttery, these flavourful pockets with creamy spinach were some of the best Iíve ever tasted. This combination of appetizers left our palates eager for more.
Our taste buds peaked; we were anxiously awaiting our entrees. Again our wait was rewarded with carefully prepared, savory dishes to enjoy. My Bacalhau a Bras was an interesting blend of fried potatoes, onions, and codfish seasoned with parsley. Biting into this mixture gave a fascinating blend of slightly sweet, slightly salty flavor. The side salad was a zesty intermingling of red cabbage, onion, tomato, carrots, olives, greens, and vinaigrette. My husbandís pasta was a plentiful combination of calamari, shrimp, mussels, clams, scallops, and sausage. The aromatic tomato sauce gave a spicy depth to the pasta. My daughterís dish was perfectly made for those who are pint size. The spaghetti was fresh and tasty, but not spicy at all. This is perfectly appealing to any toddler.
With no room for dessert, a belly dancing show gave a memorable end to our evening. For $65.00 including tax and tip, we enjoyed a small slice of Portuguese life, not too mention an incredible dinner. Even better, we felt like we were part of the experience rather than just an observer. It was like we married into the family.
<b>Spago Restaurante Portuguese</b>
12433 97 St.
<b>Tel:</b> (780) 479-0328