Portugalia Marketplace Shines with Gem-like Tinned Seafood & More in Fall River, MA

I had actually recalled in the nether regions of my brain that @MC-Slim-JB had written favorably about Jack’s many years ago. But something has happened. Afterwards, we browsed the fun shop Imagine nearby and ran into the people from the neighboring table and they all complained about their food, except for one of the young adults (and they struck me as knowledgeable food types as I eavesdropped at lunch, which wasn’t difficult because the place was empty). @fooddabbler I feel like I’ve done my part by dropping the hint that Jack’s may no longer be a good stop. If my post comes up in a search, that person is more than welcome to ask me to elaborate.

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Agreed.

I’ve been wanting to get to Portugalia for a while, and now I’m looking for a restaurant in the area (Fall River/New Bedford) that serves food from the Alentejana region of Portugal. I’m searching for the Garlic Soup (Acorda? Sopa d’ajo?) and marisco stews we enjoyed in the 1970s at the late lamented P & A Seafood in Union Square, Somerville. We recently returned from a trip where we spent a short time in Lisbon, and enjoyed those dishes, which are apparently from the Alentejano area. Any suggestions?

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Been there many times - also highly recommend it.

It’s a great spot - especially for: olive oils, pasteis de nata, Portuguese port/wine, olives, and many other things including cured meats, and cheeses.

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REVISITING PORTUGALIA
Mid-week field trip with a Portugalia newbie to show her the plenty that is this terrific place. One again, not too crowded. This time I bought many many tinned fishies, mostly tuna, sardines and octopus. The tins are so beautiful I’m thinking of creating a shelf at my kitchen window to display them. We also perused the dry goods and found excellent prices on French green lentils and dried cannellini beans. Bought both. This time I was able to focus on the cheeses and had forgotten that they have available large-ish wheels which would be great for a big gathering. Oogled the frozen octopi which looked spectacular. My companion bought the-most-handsome looking tin of Portuguese virgin olive oil at a good price.

We followed this adventure up with lunch (once again) at Sagres. She had the pork & clams. I had the bacalau casserole with potato, olives and garlic. Each of us had enough for supper later.

Plus: Fall River is a fascinating town to mosey around in. Huge decommissioned battleships, handsome old mill buildings, water views. I highly recommend taking a day off and making a trip of it.






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That tinned fish selection calls to me. I don’t believe its equal exists within a reasonable drive (from Eastern MA).

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I love my some conservas too, and I usually order online. If I had a car, I’d be hitting this place every 2-3 months at least. You can make do with some of the brands of sardines they have here, but I miss the briny clams - and in particular the razor clams - they have in the Spanish and Portuguese tins. I’ve seen clams in the US, but I recall trying one of the brands regularly available in the US markets and they were bland and unmemorable. Salty with no sweetness of the original meat.

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Thanks to reading this thread, I went to Portugalia and loved it! We bought olive oil, tins of tuna (still dreaming of the one with oregano in it) and sardines. Also olives, fava nuts, a delicious prepared casserole of bacala, potato, and olives, bottled beans (so delicious and creamy)and many other goodies. Got some great coffee for the trip home!

Will be back!

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Some years ago (preCOVID - it must have been in 2019 because that is when Marcus Samuelsson featured Portugalia on a episode of his PBS show No Passport Required) my wife and I had a very memorable day in that area - drove from Boston down to Fall River and spent a long time admiring all of Portugalia’s wares. After buying a bunch of goodies we visited Red Dory in Tiverton for a great lunch (and got to tell Steve Johnson how much Cambridge missed him :pensive:)

Then off to Four Corners for wandering around the art galleries, antique markets, and other stores; a drive around Little Compton admiring the scenery, and finally a wine tasting at Sakonnet Vineyards with a light dinner before heading home.

Good times!

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a few weeks ago, after an especially awful work day, i treated myself to road trip to Portugalia. It’s a great store with considerable choice in each food/drink category. I basically followed portuguese folks and bought what they did. My favorites? A fresh coconut butter roll better than anything in Ctown for $1.00. San Giorgio cheese was excellent and made for many a great snack or meal thereafter. Any other cheese recs? I got a variety of tinned fish (the labels are so cute) and only tried the octopus so far but wasn’t wowed. I hope one of the others will convert me. Also, I got two different chorizos and thought they were too lean to be really tasty and used them mostly for a risotto with braised chicken. The selection of olive oils, wines and ports is astonishing. I got a few bottles of wine, the first of which was a rosé that was cheap but a little to sweet for me. Any suggestions for my next visit?

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In this article:

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My husband and I finally, finally made it to Portugalia after wanting to go for years. The excellent overview by @SuzieCK at the beginning of this thread stands the test of time.

I’ll share what stood out for me. Spoiler alert: We’re glad we went.

We wanted to stock up on Portuguese goodies of course, mainly tinned fish (conservas). A nice surprise was that the in-store prices for conservas were lower than on-line prices ($1.00-$3.00 lower per item, except for some mussels priced the same). I don’t know if in-store pricing is always more favorable. Your mileage may vary.

Another reason to visit: Atmosphere that will transport you. Portugalia has that traditional-meets-modern vibe I remembered from a short trip to Porto in January. The spacious remodeled mill building is like a modernized market hall you’d find in Porto or Lisbon.

We were hungry when we arrived, so we had a simple toasted sandwich of presunto (ham) and cheese on a Portuguese roll in the small café. Just meat and bread, I believe. Couldn’t resist a pastel de nata for dessert. Creamy custard, flaky pastry. Among the best I’ve tasted.

Here’s our haul. Besides the tinned fish and other treats, I was also thrilled to find a couple of wines from a vineyard I had visited in the Douro Valley, Quinta do Crasto.

Santa Catarina tuna from the Azores is a particular favorite of mine, so I wanted to give you a peek inside the cans. Check out the perfect little nuggets preserved in oil. The tin on top is flavored with slightly piquant Azorean peppers. The bottom tin is plain tuna.

We didn’t make it into the bacalhau room or bring home any of the prepared foods. Next time!

Bonus content: this interview with founder Michael Benevides. Interesting read about his vision for Portugalia.

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You’re making me want to take another trip down to Portugalia! That tuna looks so good. Please report back on other things you purchased…the pate and the bacalhau look great!

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If you go for the first time, or return, either way don’t sleep on their olives as well as the olive oils they have. They’re always a great grab and will also make great presents for family and close friends.

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Fall River’s about two hours from me, maybe closer to two and a half if there’s traffic—a little farther than I like to drive for a day trip. Is it worth planning a three-day weekend trip around? (Maybe find a couple restaurants, poke around a beach, spend a day in Providence? I might’ve just talked myself into it; my favorite cheese is Portuguese and they don’t carry it anywhere near me anymore.)

As long as you minimize your time spent in Fall River (maybe Portugalia and a Portguese restaurant for lunch) and focus more of your time in Providence/beachside Rhode Island then yeah it could make for a fun trip although Mystic CT is better across the board in my humble opinion