By Sally Deering Photos by David Bayne
If you’re looking for a hip and sexy bar lounge or a great place for Portuguese dining, Port-O Lounge Tapas & Wines on First and Newark Streets fits the bill. Located close to the Grove Street PATH Station in Jersey City, Port-O Lounge Tapas & Wines serves traditional and flavorful Portuguese fare in a sexy and alluring atmosphere just right for dinner with friends or a date with that special someone.
Filipe Costa, who was born in Portugal, opened the Port-O Lounge in June 2010 and created the beautiful and cozy downtown Jersey City restaurant out of an old Newark Avenue warehouse. He exposed the red brick, painted the original tin ceilings and added suede-covered chairs, glass-top tables and cozy sitting areas in the lounge. The dining room is formal, yet warm, with linen-topped tables where guests dine by candlelight. The bar is long, sleek and roomy enough for friendly conversation and the kitchen is located at the end of the bar, where the chef prepares traditional Portuguese cuisine and the aromas fill the lounge and restaurant with the scent of freshly cooked garlic that teases the palate.
“The idea was to make it as comfortable as possible for our customers,” Costa says.
Along with a fantastic atmosphere, Port-O Lounge offers a large selection of traditional Portuguese Tapas on its menu that are as yummy as the décor. Tapas, which originated in Spain, are small appetizer-style dishes of pork, seafood, beef and vegetables that can be enjoyed over cocktails, a bottle of wine or a pitcher of Sangria. As a sampling, Port-O Lounge serves Chorizo Flambe, a smoky, succulent sausage that’s crunchy on the outside and tender on the inside ($9) Fresh Cockles, a small clam dish, very tasty and very traditional in Portugal ($11.50) Fresh Asparagus wrapped with Smoked Salmon ($11.50) and a very typical Portuguese dish, Shredded Codfish with Onions, tiny chopped Potatoes and Scrambled Eggs ($9.50.)
The dinner menu ranges from $12 to $21.50 and entrees include Seafood Linguine with Scallops, Shrimp and Clams ($14.50) Paella made with Lobster, Shrimp and Clams ($18.95) the traditional Portuguese dish of Marinated Pork Cubes sautéed with Clams and Potatoes ($14.50) Veal Scaloppini and sautéed Spinach topped with Mozzarella with Portuguese Risotto ($19.50) and a Sizzling Strip Steak topped with sautéed Mushrooms and Maitre d’ Sauce ($18.50.)
For dessert Port-O Lounge serves the Serradura, layer cake with Maria cookies infused with Espresso ($6) the classic Portuguese Almond and Egg Yolk Pudding ($6) White Chocolate Mousse ($6) and the Orange Tart ($6.) Special dessert coffees are just right for after dinner and Port-O Lounge serves Spanish, Italian, Irish and French Coffees ($6-$7.50) and the House Special Port-O Coffee made with Espresso, Portuguese brandy and Portuguese liqueur.
The Wine List features Portuguese wines from five different regions that range from $20-$180, French wines including a Pinot Noir and Bordeaux from $30-$80 and Italian wines, Chianti and Pinot Grigio from $28-$80.
Familiar with the many Portuguese restaurants in East Newark, Costa specifically chose downtown Jersey City for his restaurant’s location.
“I like Jersey City,” Costa says. “I like the feeling of the neighborhood. There’s a lot of activity in the downtown area.”
And very few downtown restaurants that serve authentic Portuguese cuisine.
“Portuguese cuisine incorporates many of the ingredients of Mediterranean food,” Costa says. “The ingredients have to be fresh and then we prepare them as simple as possible. We don’t overdo it with ingredients, spices and sauces. If you’re having fish, you have to be able to taste the flavor of that particular fish.”
Port-O Tapas & Wines
286 First Street
Jersey City, NJ
Hours: Tues, Wed, Thurs, Sun: 12 noon-Midnight
Fri, Sat: 12 noon-3 am
Kitchen is open noon to 11 pm, Tues-Sun