Greasy Spoons: Taste of Portugal’s Steak on a Stone

From an unassuming little building in Newark’s Ironbound section, you can get some of the best steaks you’ve ever had. I’ve been to a few of the top-rated steakhouses in America– Manny’s in Minneapolis, the Chicago Chop House. But for half the price I’ve had a fantastic marbled filet cooked just the way I want it, without worrying about reservations or throwing on a sport jacket. At Taste of Portugal on Delancey Street.

If you’ve eaten in the Ironbound, you’re familiar with Portuguese restaurants, famous for their rodizio, the unending delivery of grilled meat on huge skewers, sliced directly to your plate. Those that don’t offer that up often have similar menus full of platters of steaks and seafood, huge slabs of sea bass or bucket-sized bowls of paella, the obligatory appetizers of charred Portuguese sausage, and the platters of potatoes, rice and vegetables shared on the table. Here you get the standards trimmed into a concise yet varied menu that touches all the meat groups, including a goat leg appetizer and occasional deliveries of wild boar. If the boar is offered, all bets are off- skip the steak and have it.
Their flagship dish is the Steak on a Stone, a baseball sized filet with good marbling. It comes on a searing hot slab of black granite heated in their ovens, and arrives at the table raw. Your server slices it into four smaller chunks and places them on the stone to sizzle, and tops them with huge chunks of garlic herb butter. If you like, they will stay to flip the pieces for you. If you’re a hands-on diner who would rather eat the stone than a well-done steak, you can flip them yourself. I opted to be the captain of my own destiny, and was rewarded with a terrifically tender filet mignon slathered in creamy butter.

The side is red beans and rice with chunks of Portuguese sausage, and a gravy boat of mushroom sauce; not a green in sight. Our appetizer was a special of shrimp and pineapple; this turned out to be shrimp cocktail, with half-round chunks of pineapple and twirled slices of prosciutto. The salty slices where not di parma, but the drier, thicker kind. It all went well together but was nothing spectacular, except for the huge shrimp. The desserts are good but average, including Italian specialties like tartufo and tiramisu, plus Portuguese ones like serradura, which I found sort of bland.

If you want a great and unique steak meal for a mere $26.95, hie yourself down to the Ironbound section and get to Taste of Portugal. You won’t regret it.

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