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Portuguese Cuisine with a Wee Bit of Irish Flavor in Bradley Beach

Recipes from Newark’s Ironbound section kitchens meet Jersey Shore Irish pub fare on Main Street’s restaurant row

If you’ve passed by the former Draughting Table lately and noticed it’s now called The Portuguese Shamrock, you might be saying “What’s with that?”

Or as at some local residents have asked, “Do they serve Portuguese or Irish food?”

Actually, owner Dan Pires serves both, with a slight leaning toward the Portuguese.

As sole owner of the new restaurant and bar that took over 416 Main Street in Bradley Beach, Pires knows that his outside signage has locals and visitors buzzing and asking about the menu. Fortunately, many of  those puzzled, curious folks have come in to check it out.

Since Pires opened his doors on Feb. 10, business has been brisk. And he 's thrilled considering the wind and rain that have blown in with March.

“This is the slowest month of the year, but we’re doing fine,” Pires said as several midday bar patrons watched a soccer game on television.

Like paella and yellow rice, the opportunity to watch soccer games from overseas will be a staple at The Portuguese Shamrock. Pires is packaging the eatery as a taste of Newark’s heavy Portuguese Ironbound section married to “Jersey Shore traditional Irish pub fare” such as fish and chips and corned beef platters.

The restaurant’s name pays tribute to both sides of Pires’ heritage—his Portuguese-born father, Telmo, and Irish-American mother, Cathleen. Telmo Pires oversees the kitchen staff.

To retain the Newark connection, two of the restaurant’s three chefs hail from the Ironbound section. The other chef is a Bradley Beach resident. All of the restaurant’s food is delivered fresh daily basis from suppliers in Newark, Pires said.

 “About 90 percent of the foods that we use are from up there,” Pires said.

For starters, the appetizers include clams casino, shrimp cocktail, buffalo wings, or fried calamari. Patrons can choose between red bean and cabbage soup or chicken soup.  The salads include two Draughting House holdovers—the Lindy Salad and the Harvest Salad.

The entrees include various meat and seafood dishes including Pork Alentejana (four clams served with cubed pork, potatoes, pickles, and olives served in a light sauce) and Bifinhnos (small sirloin slices sautéed in a mushroom wine sauce). Two separate paella dishes --Paelha Marineira (a mix of several types of seafood) and Paelha Valenciana (chicken, sausage and seafood) are served with yellow rice.

Mariscada--a mix of clams, shrimp, lobster, mussels, and scallops with yellow rice—can be served in either a red sauce or a white sauce depending on the customer’s preference.

Boiled potatoes and “Shamrock Fries” accompany some of the other meat and seafood-based entrees.  The kitchen will also prepare and serve standard burgers, delicatessen-style sandwiches, and salads if the customer desires, Pires said.

 Vegetarians are encouraged to custom-order vegetable-only platters or other choices. The menu is only limited by what’s stocked in the kitchen, Pires said.

“If we have it, we can make it,” he said. “Everything is made from scratch. It’s just a matter of altering the process.”

  Though Bradley Beach can boast of a variety of ethnic-styled restaurants on its main drag, the Portuguese Shamrock is the first to bring a bit of Newark’s Ironbound section to town.  

“It’s a perfect fit,” Pires said.

The Belmar/Lake Como St. Patrick’s Day Parade this past Sunday brought in pre-festivities patrons for breakfast starting at 9 a.m. Despite the rain that fell at the end of the parade, revelers came by to sample the complimentary buffet served throughout the day.

Since last month’s soft opening, the dining area’s 45 seats have been mostly full with a high turnover on Friday and Saturday nights, Pires said.  Another 20 customers can comfortably sit at the adjacent, yet separate bar.

With the “March Madness” NCAA basketball tournaments coming soon and the Major League baseball season in sight, Pires is planning to remove some walls as a means of creating more space for sports fans to root for their teams.

On St. Patrick’s Day itself, the Portuguese Shamrock will welcome revelers from all backgrounds to a traditional Irish celebration. The restaurant’s grand opening will be held in late March or early April—that is once permanent menus are delivered and the computer system is upgraded, Pires said.

Inspired by the warm reception he has received from Bradley Beach and neighboring towns, Pires of Avon, is eager to give back to the community by hosting fundraisers benefiting local charities.

“Fundraising in the town comes first,” said Pires, originally of Freehold. “(Bradley Beach officials) were excellent in welcoming us here.”

Members of the local governing body, particularly Mayor Julie Schreck, Councilman Gary Engelstad and their families have come by for a meal with their families. Other business owners in town have also stopped in to welcome him with open arms.

The Portuguese Shamrock opens everyday for lunch at 11 a.m. with daily specials. Business continues until 2 a.m., seven days a week. Pires believes in being available to the public.

“We’ll keep the kitchen open until 11 p.m. if people are still in here eating.”

 A former waiter, bartender, and manager at other area restaurants including Mango’s in Belmar, Harry’s Roadhouse in Asbury Park and Huddy’s in Freehold, Pires holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Monmouth University. Optimistic about the upcoming summer, he expects to  hire seasonal workers as the weather improves.

Becca March 31, 2011 at 03:24 PM
There is no Irish food on the menu. It is all Portuguese. Went there with my husband on a slow night around St Patty's day and they served Corn Beef as a special and it was the worst I have ever had.

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