Getting in Touch with my Portuguese side at Atasca

28 Jul

Atasca is probably one of my favorite restaurants ever. Considering that I live in Brighton, and Atasca is located in Kendall Sq, it’s not the most convenient for me. So the fact that I’ve been there about 10 times or so shows how much I love this place.

My Mama was born on the island of Terceira in the Azores, a group of islands about 1500km off the coast of Portugal. The last time I went I was probably 3 or 4 years old, but I still have memories of spending time with my grandparents at their huge stone mansion (in my eyes) and sitting on a huge ledge watching the parades go by. And eating amazing food. I hope to one day go back (very very soon).

Eating at Atasca brings me back to those times. I’ve brought my mother here many times in the past as well and she loves it. The inside is decorated with colorful plates, paintings, even a little guitar which my mom remarked to me one time that she used to own one just like that.

This particular time that we went, we finally were able to snag a seat outside. My profuse apologies for not taking a picture but it is beautiful. Shaded by grape vines, and decorated with tomato, thyme and rosemary plants, it’s difficult to think you are steps away from huge corporate buildings.

Whenever I come to Atasca I always need to have a glass (or carafe) of Sangria. With a refreshing fruity taste, I could drink this all night. They also include a nice offering of fruit with your Sangria.

Each table starts out with some delicious olives that are served with bread and olive oil (pictured below). I LOVE olives. I pretend they are like popcorn I eat them so much. Atasca always managed to have a slightly different assortment every time we come, and they are always equally delicious.

The bread is moist and tender, with a good crust, and the olive oil with garlic is out of this world. I could come here for just the bread alone and I would be happy.

For our appetizer this time around we went with Grilled Sardines with roasted peppers (Sardinhas Grelhadas). These aren’t your sardines that come in a can, no they aren’t. My Mama used to go to a Portuguese market in Hudson and would buy a dozen sardines exactly like these and bake them up nice and pretty. My favorite part is the tail, it’s nice and crispy and packs quite the crunch. These were cooked perfectly, and the cool peppers contrasted nicely with the grilled fish.

For my husband’s main meal, he went with Sauteed pork loin with clams, paprika, garlic and cilantro with cubed fried potatoes (Carne de porco a alentejana). I snuck a bite from him and it was amazing. The paprika was really pronounced (in a good way) and the clams were cooked perfectly. I’m slightly (read, very) obsessed with their potatoes. They are usually sliced thinly and fried to perfection. I don’t know what kind of seasoning they use, but it’s amazing.

For my meal, I went with the Cataplana, which is clams, mussels and shrimp, steamed in a copper steamer (the cataplana), with onions, red peppers, procuitto and linguica served with jasmine rice. The broth soaked up the rice beautifully, and the shellfish was in abundance. I couldn’t have asked for anything more. This ranks as one of the top dished I’ve had at Atasca.

I think over our many visits to to Atasca, we’ve managed to eat almost every dessert. From the sweet rice pudding (Arroz Doce) to the creamy custard tart (Pasteis de Nata) you really can’t go wrong with their desserts. This time around we went with the indulgent Chocolate mousse. This mousse was dense and intensely chocolatey, but not in a way that settled heavily in your stomach. It was the perfect ending to a great meal.

If you find yourself in Kendall Sq, make sure to pay a visit to Atasca.

Atasca on Urbanspoon


12 Responses to “Getting in Touch with my Portuguese side at Atasca”

  1. Renee {Eat.Live.Blog.} July 28, 2011 at 9:09 am #

    Here is my question….how is this POSSIBLY the first time I have heard of this place? It is at the top of my must try list now!

  2. Emily @ A Cambridge Story July 28, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    I really like Atasca (and Portuguese food in general) Have you been to Casa Portugal in Inman?

    • kitchenmisfit July 28, 2011 at 10:07 am #

      I have! I’ve actually been to almost all the Portuguese places in Cambridge in general. Hah. My other favorite is Portugalia.

  3. Kathy July 28, 2011 at 9:57 am #


  4. Elizabeth July 28, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Portuguese food is definitely an area I’m less familiar with. The food looks great!

  5. Michelle Collins July 28, 2011 at 1:09 pm #

    This looks like a fabulous meal! I’ve always wondered if this place was worth a visit.

  6. Megan July 28, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    I work in one of those corporate buildings nearby — well, for now. Switching jobs very soon! But anyways, I go to Atasca for lunch A LOT. They have they best lunch deal: sandwich, awesome potato/fry things, and salad all for about $7. Love it. That said, I’ve never been for dinner and the dishes you tried look so good!

  7. Lindsey @ BeantownEats July 29, 2011 at 12:54 pm #

    I grew up right near Fall River, MA, which has a very large Portuguese community and awesome food! My mom’s favorite dish is pork alentejana; I’ll definitely have to take her here!

    • kitchenmisfit July 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

      Yes, my Mom goes to Fall River & New Bedford quite frequently!

  8. Scott July 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm #

    Burritos aside, Atasca has been on my “must eat at” list for some time but I have still never gone. You’re meal looks fantastic and the olives, bread and olive oil are enough to make me want to eat there this weekend, which I won’t because my wife is out of town, but trust me, I want to!

  9. Megan August 1, 2011 at 11:39 pm #

    I need that chocolate mousse ASAP!

  10. Daisy August 2, 2011 at 10:57 am #

    amazing review! I really need to check this place out!

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