The Universe at Work

I hope the powers that be will let me keep this as a standalone thread here on the NJ board.

Day three of birthday celebration and mom wanted to take Justin and I out. We go to Portuguese Manor in Perth Amboy. It is my favorite restaurant (and very special to my late father and our family) and I’ve waited longer than a year to finally go again.

Well, we get there and it’s new owners, a new menu, and new staff. The food is not even Portuguese anymore. I don’t know what it is. But it’s virtually destroyed. It was unrecognizable and not fitting of what the establishment once was. Fettuccine Alfredo and Mozzarella sticks??? Is mofongo Portuguese?

The charm is gone and I was devastated. Devastated. My night was ruined. Nostalgia and all those memories gone. And so we did the unthinkable walked out, another part of my life and childhood gone. I literally wanted to cry. So we head to nearby Costa Verde and sit in the bar area. No one came over for a half hour, so we get up again and move to the dining room.

Lo and behold our waiter tonight IS OUR OLD WAITER FROM PORTUGUESE MANOR. This man served us every single visit there for 20 years! I cannot tell you how happy seeing this guy made me. I needed a picture. Every special occasion dinner for my life, he was there. After my dad passed, he talked with my mom and I for a half hour about what a great guy he was. Just this moment alone makes my birthday complete. This was surreal! It was like the universe handed me a gift. I saw him walking to our table and my brain could not comprehend it.

Obligatory dinner pics: I had chicken in garlic sauce (usually I would get a steak but had one the other night and was not in the mood for red meat), Justin had broiled shrimp, mom had red snapper. Appetizer was garlic shrimp.

Midway through our evening, Justin said he was getting up to go to the bathroom. Instead, he secretly went to our waiter to tell him it was my birthday. The waiter said he already knew and had a dessert picked out (tartufo, which we always ordered at Portuguese Manor). So after an embarrassing “Happy Birthday!” blasting over the loudspeaker, the evening was complete. I could have killed him!

The night went from absolutely ruined to seeing this guy’s face and all of a sudden everything was fine and I was “home”. Words cannot describe.

Thank you for indulging in this story if you’ve made it this far.


Happy birthday and what a great story. Bonus Justin picture too. Story had it all. Even food, lol!!


He doesn’t look like a wrestler. Happy Birthday! Glad it worked out


I always stalk the Jersey board 'cuz you guys always seem to have the best stories.a This one may be the best one yet.

(And I also love putting Justin’s face to his name now. You both look so happy!) :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:

a Second only to the Greater Boston board. I’m a little competitive :wink:


Nice story, Happy Birthday :birthday::wine_glass:

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So glad you enjoyed!!!

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Happy Birthday again. I’m not sure which couple is looks happier - you and the waiter or you and Justin. Either way it’s nice to see such smiling faces and good food.


A great story.

Happy Birthday!

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Congrats,! Happy bday!

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Lovely seeing your photos. Milestone birthdays should be memorable. Glad yours was redeemed!

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I think both of those photos should be in a side-by-side frame as a reminder of your 30th. :rofl::rofl:


First, Happy Birthday!
Second, Great Story!
Third, I do remember reading in a blog about Portuguese Manor being sold and the blogger worried about possible changes. :grinning:

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Happy birthday! So glad your story had a happy ending. I felt so sad reading the first part of it. Love the pictures. I agree with @CurlzNJ that they need to be framed together.


Ha! I still went several times since and talked to one of the waiters (not my guy, the other one-- they only ever had the same two) and he was quick to quell the rumor and said something along the lines of his sister owned the restaurant and if it was sold he would know.

So it either really was just a rumor in 2017 (and believable at that, given the age and downhill turn of the place) or it was actually sold and just took this long to make the changes.

Either way, I spent every visit since then wondering “Is this the last time?” Now I know it is. In a way, I would have rather shown up to shuttered doors and an “Out of Business” sign than what I walked into.

They re-did the bar and lounge area-- all the original woodwork was gone. Dining area was made brighter but not many changes there. It’s the menu. Every specialty was gone. And fettuccine Alfredo??? I should have taken pictures. Kudos to both mom and Justin for pushing stubborn me and saying “We don’t have to stay here”.

I advise any fans of Portuguese Manor reading this to keep your memories of the old place in your heart and stay far, far away.


I think I will do just that!


What a great story, thank you for sharing! Everything happens for a reason - we just don’t know what those reasons are at first. A very happy birthday to you, and best wishes for a wonderful year ahead filled with health and happiness.

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And honestly, now that I’ve seen the photo of you and your mom on IG, I think it needs to be a triple frame!

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I love this story. I’m sure your dad swept in to save the day! What a fantastic birthday surprise and story!


Wow, what a fabulous story! Thank you for sharing & good to see you both!

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Happy birthday, and this entire post made me grin from ear to ear! You were meant to go to this restaurant!

And I love seeing a pic of you and Justin!