Portuguese Grill Turns Out Some of the Best Meats Around
By Nancy Lewis
Thursday, November 23, 2006
There are only a handful of Portuguese eateries in the Washington area. Manassas is lucky to have at least three: the recently opened Cafe Bakery Majestic, a European-style coffeehouse; Carmellos & Little Portugal, a more formal venue, offering both Italian and Portuguese specialties; and Espresso Cafe and Restaurant on Centreville Road.
Espresso Cafe features a large dining room that is often host to large parties on the weekends, and a smoky bar area in the front of the restaurant, where a charcoal-fueled grill turns out some of the best meats around. There is always at least one employee manning the grill.
Nuno Duarte, who with Rui Ramos has owned Espresso for nine years, said the grill turns out steaks, pork ribs, chicken, salt cod and quail. One can sit at the bar or a nearby table and watch the food being cooked.
The large dining room often sits empty during the week, but its extensive menu of seafood and meat dishes is also available in the bar. The house specialty is steak grilled over the charcoal fire and presented at the table on a piping hot black rock (bife na pedra).
Appetizers to consider include the Spanish-style clams (ameijoas à Espanhola), served bubbling hot in their own caldron of tomato and onion sauce, and the garlic shrimp (camarao à alho), which is milder than most Spanish versions.