Monday, September 27, 2010

Piri Piri: A Wonderful Night of Portuguese Fish and Wine

Not long ago, we passed by a new Portuguese restaurant, Piri Piri, on Herricks Rd. in Mineola.  It's a tad out of the way and located in an office building.  We decided to give it a try after our friends Sal and Marina let us know it was a  winner.  It's named after the spicy Portuguese sauce made from the African piri-piri chile pepper.

First the Food 

The restaurant is very handsome with a fine staff, Joao was our friendly waiter for the evening. The menu is classic Portuguese.  One of the owners, Roy, came to greet us and spoke of his family and a recent trip to Portugal.  We felt very relaxed and welcomed.  I'm sure things went so well in some measure since Mary is Portuguese and can speak and banter with the staff.

We were first served what I think was some very good traditional Portuguese hard bread and rolls. I've loved this bread since we first visited Mary's family on Madeira Island in 1971. The bread was served with spicy olives and marinated carrots.  The carrots were fabulous.

We both ordered soup.  Mary had a traditional caldo verde, which is kale and potato based.  It was thick and tasty.  Much thicker than usual.  I took one taste. It was superb.  Mary loved it.  I ordered a seafood soup.  This variety was less of a stew and more a true soup.  The broth was fabulous, possibly the best I've had.  The fresh fish aroma and taste combined perfectly.  It contained scallops, clams, lobster, and shrimp. The clams had a slighty refreshing ocean taste. There's nothing like feeling you are near the ocean when eating a seafood soup. Totally delightful.

The main course for Mary consisted of a bacalao (cod fish) with peppers, onions and boiled Portuguese potatoes.  Mary noted happily that the bacalao was not as salty as normal. The only negative was that the cod was every so slightly dry. It was a very enjoyable dish.

Not being Portuguese I thoroughly confused the waiter by ordering an appetizer for dinner.  With some coaching and a growing awareness on my part it all worked out.  I ordered octopus. It came sliced into small pieces in mild sauce and served with broccoli rabe, broccoli, carrots and the most delicious boiled and then fried potatoes. The octopus was done perfectly and was delicious. I spiced it up with a mild but tasty piri piri sauce our waiter shared with us.

Now the Wine

The waitress brought us a wine list that included the usual fare but on closer examination the flip side contained a listing of Portuguese whites and reds.  Vinho Verde, such as a Quinta da Aveleda, Casal Garcia or a Gazela, is what we usually order when going Portuguese.  This night was no different but we went with a slight variation.  We tried a slightly higher end Muralhas de Moncao Vinho Verde.  It is 70% Alvarhinho and 30% Trajadura. It was mildly and pleasantly aromatic. Besides the usual green fruits of most Vinho Verdes it showed specific apricot notes with a firm body and an ever so subtle effervescence.  Mary thought the finish was slightly bitter but fully enjoyed the wine.  This was a nice find.

We highly recommend Piri Piri.  The food is very good, moderately priced and served in ample quantity. It's located at 100 Herricks Rd in Mineola, Long Island.  The phone number is 516 873-9277.

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