Within the Ironbound

By / Photography By James J. Connolly | May 01, 2018
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Owner and Chef Angel Leston of Casa d’ Paco
Owner and Chef Angel Leston of Casa d’ Paco

It would take many hungry days to do justice to the Ironbound, home to Newark’s Iberian community and a ten-minute walk from the Prudential Center. Important to note is the wealth of worthy spots off of Ferry Street. Throughout the neighborhood, you’ll find Brazilian bars, Portuguese grocers and lively crowds who maintain connections to their roots.

9am: Breakfast Two Ways

Michael Kenlay of Asbury Park’s Local 130 Seafood, whose wife’s family lives in the Ironbound, recommends a start at Nova Alianca Bakery. It offers counter service, strong espresso and a window into the neighborhood elders’ world. “It’s where my wife’s grandmother goes,” Kenlay says. “Super classic. Lisbon style.” Order a pastel de nata (custard cup) and bank the flavor memory. Also try Casa do Pão de Queijo, tucked away in a courtyard on Adams Street. Made from fermented cassava flour, the Brazilian cheese bread is tantalizing served warm. Think gougères, but with more tang.

10:30am: Shopping Trip

Ferry Street is a busy shopping hub. Pick up bacalhau (salt cod) at Popular Fish Market, where residents line up in the morning. For Portuguese olive oil and spices, wander the aisles at A.J. Seabra’s Supermarket. Off the main drag, Lopes Sausage Co. reverberates with a reddish glow inside. Come hungry for real-deal Portuguese sausage, from chorizo laced with smoked paprika to the pure pork flavor of linguiça. “We supply everywhere from Miami all the way to New Bedford. I make about 15,000 pounds a week,” says president Herminio Lopes, whose father opened the shop 53 years ago. His favorite? Regular linguiça, grilled. “I never eat it at home, ever. But when I go to a restaurant, I always order it,” he laughs. The shop also offers a curated selection of Portuguese cheeses. Round out your shopping at Lisbon Wines & Liquors, where the port game is strong.

12:30pm: BBQ Chicken and Chatter

Portugalia Bar & Restaurant is pared back and packed with men who gather on weekends to talk life and soccer with the attentive bartenders. Defined by a curved bar, the space is alive with a hum of Portuguese and clattering silverware, as people dig into barbecued chicken with crispy skin and buttery steamed clams. Though it looks plain, the rice alongside the chicken is gorgeously seasoned. During popular hours, it can be tough to find a spot, so plan accordingly. Super Bock beer is sold by the bottle.

2:30pm: Bar Hop

Continue the revelry at Brasilia Grill on Monroe. You’ll know you’re there when you spy the palm-topped neon sign. My uncle, who lived in Newark for seven years, praises the sangria and caipirinhas. “The menu at the bar is such value for money, and on Friday nights they have a Brazilian band in the bar area,” he says. If you can get in—fair warning—he also recommends a quick stop at the private Sport Club Português on Prospect; its Ironbound museum is open to the public during office hours.

4:30pm: Sweet Rewards

Come late afternoon, Teixeira’s Bakery is a haven, women in white baker’s hats taking orders behind a long counter of Iberian breads and sweets. Not only is the space peaceful and adorned with lovely Portuguese tile, it’s also home to what some claim are the best pasteis de nata in Newark. Those could be considered fighting words. All the more reason to wander and explore this part of town. Silky smooth and not too sweet, these transported me via a sugared daydream to Pasteis de Belem in Lisbon, where a secret recipe for the pastry has been in use since the 1830s. If your tastes lean savory, find your way to the hidden courtyard at Allegro Seafood Grill and order patiscos, the Portuguese version of tapas.

6:30pm Iberian Dinner

For dinner, head to Casa d’Paco for Galician tapas (see page 38). Can’t get in? Mompou Tapas Bar & Restaurant is another great bet. Modern in style, the business has a direct connection to Catalonia. “In addition to owning Mompou, I also own a cooking school in Barcelona,” explains owner Tony Martinez. Don’t miss the tapa de paella negra, black with squid ink and topped with octopus. (Made from scratch, it takes about 25 minutes.) Sweet pimientos de piquillo arrive stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts, then topped with a honey vinaigrette. Purists will savor heaping platters of jamon, olives and Spanish cheeses like manchego and cow’s milk tetilla. To make it a crawl, head on to Casa Vasca, where Basque cuisine is on the menu. Or do as Chef José Andrés did when he visited town a few years back, and visit Spanish Pavilion Restaurant in nearby Harrison, which has been serving Spanish classics since 1963. Seabra’s Marisqueira, on Madison, offers plates full of fresh seafood cooked with a Portuguese flair. Buen provecho.

Late Night Snack

Lively bars beckon throughout the Ironbound, which may leave you hungry. Luckily, Altas Horas Lanches is a 24-hour institution. Bright green and welcoming, the restaurant specializes in Brazilian-style burgers and sandwiches, which come to the table topped with egg, bacon, potato sticks, corn and mayonnaise.

Lopes Sausage Co.; Teixeira’s Bakery
Lopes Sausage Co.; Teixeira’s Bakery

Teixeira's Bakery baked goods

A.J. Seabra’s Supermarket
260 Lafayette St.

Allegro Seafood Grill
58 Kossuth St.

Altas Horas Lanches
266 Ferry St.

Brasilia Grill
99 Monroe St.

Casa d’Paco
73 Warwick St.

Casa do Pão de Queijo
70 Adams St.

Casa Vasca
141 Elm St.

Lisbon Wines & Liquors
114 Ferry St.

Lopes Sausage Co.
304 Walnut St

Mompou Tapas Bar & Restaurant
77 Ferry St.

Nova Alianca Bakery
121 Ferry St.

Popular Fish Market
129 Ferry St.

Portugalia Bar & Restaurant
280 Ferry St.

Seabra’s Marisqueira
87 Madison St.

Sport Club Português
55 Prospect St.

Teixeira’s Bakery
186 Ferry St.

For a map of these locations go to

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