Boston's Hidden Restaurants

Casa Portugal

1200 Cambridge Street, Cambridge, MA 02139
(617) 491-8880 Find location!

Photo of Casa Portugal, Cambridge, MA It seems that the greater Boston area has relatively few Portuguese restaurants, and what ones there are tend to be mostly located in and around East Cambridge as well as Inman Square. Since Portuguese cuisine does not seem to be all that big in Boston and the surrounding area, an entire section could be done here on these restaurants since most of them are hidden gems. But this review will concentrate on one of the best--and most traditional--of them, a place on the eastern edge of Inman Square called Casa Portugal.

Small, humble, and unassuming from the outside, Casa Portugal is easy to miss on the way to other restaurants (especially in restaurant-rich Inman Square). But its plain exterior masks an old-world European atmosphere inside that borders on intimate and romantic. Service is as old-school as the atmosphere, as the staff is efficient but somewhat serious and businesslike (don't expect much small talk with the staff).

Meals at Casa Portugal include some nice, simple breads that come with an olive plate. The bread goes well with their excellent soups, which include a deliciously earthy kale soup with little pieces of chourico mixed in, and a mild but tasty Portuguese soup with beans, pasta, chourico, and kale. Salads and appetizers are also available, with little necks and grilled chourico offered within the latter category. Entrees at Casa Portugal are a bit more varied than at some Portuguese restaurants that focus more on seafood. Included are steak dishes such as the fried steak medallions with mushrooms mixed with a tangy and slightly sweet mustard and wine sauce; chicken dishes such as a terrific sauteed chicken with mushrooms mixed in a sweet port wine sauce; pork dishes such as a grilled scalloped pork in garlic sauce; and a variety of seafood dishes, such as grilled squid, baked whiting, and sauteed shrimp, as well as paella. Casa Portugal also has an extensive wine list, including a large number of red wines.

Casa Portugal might not be the best Portuguese restaurant in New England (there are some truly special dining spots featuring this cuisine in Lowell, Fall River, and New Bedford), but it is certainly one of the best choices for Portuguese cuisine in the Boston area--especially if you are looking for options other than seafood. For those who are looking to try Portuguese food for the first time--or for those who love this type of cuisine and wish to go to a low-key, traditional spot that doesn't cost and arm and a leg--Casa Portugal is one of the best of relatively few choices in the Boston area.