Mimicking Magellan's journey from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean in miniature, restaurant partners Tarcísio Costa and Miguel Jerónimo set sail with Alfama Restaurant from the West Village to Midtown East after a decade in business. At their new location, they infuse Portuguese flavors into modern dishes inflected by the country’s former colonies in Brazil, Southern Africa, and the Indian state of Goa. In the kitchen, executive chef Carlos Arriaga grills Piri-Piri-style organic chicken and serves it with fries and a salad, or roasts veal breast with broccoli rabe and baby potatoes to create Portugese-style entrees. The restaurant’s in-house bakery opens each day at 11 a.m. to serve freshly baked breads such as Pão de Deus, a brioche-like sweet bread with a coconut crust.
Behind the marble bar, bartenders pour crisp, light-bodied vinho verdes—featured in Wine Spectator for their felicitous pairing with heirloom tomatoes—from a mostly-Portuguese wine list. Though cocktails aren’t central to Portugal’s drinking culture, wine and spirits director Costa still makes sure that each has a relevant story to tell: “One cocktail, the Route to the Indies, is inspired by Magellan the navigator—when he was looking for the Spice Islands in the East,” he told the Village Voice of a potion that included curry powder and orange anise liqueur.
The dining area reflects the bright flavors of the food with vivid orange banquettes and blue and white tile work. The restaurant’s focus on Portuguese trade routes shines through as well: walls are ornamented with both the scenery of a Portuguese village and glass-stenciled maps of the world.