Chaves a Português: A Tour of Portugal
By Doug Yuan
Mamaroneck is home to a new continental Portuguese market specializing in breads, pastries, and meats, as well as more hard-to-find products. A family-run operation, Chaves a Português lda owner Manuel Ferreira says he hasn’t done any advertising since the Thanksgiving opening; customers have found their way in through strong word-of-mouth and by spotting the Portuguese flag flying proudly outside. Ferreira notes that the store fills an important niche for the community, being “the only Portuguese market in lower Westchester that specializes in what we do.”
Everything inside is authentically Portuguese, from the ceramic tiles lining the walls, to the decorative red roosters—Portuguese symbols of joy and luck—for sale behind the counter.
Shelves are stocked with olives oils, sea salts, vinegars, spices, dried pastas, cookies, and imported ceramics. Freezer and refrigerator cases contain a variety of frozen fish, vegetables, and beverages, including Sumol, the national soda of Portugal.
The back of the market houses cheeses, meats, breads, pastries, and soups. Ferreira explains that Portuguese cheeses are creamier and smoother than American cheeses. Linguiça, chorizo, and Serrano ham fill the meat cases. Among the savory and sweet pastries: codfish croquettes, shrimp-filled cakes, meat-filled pastries, and Pastel de Nata, a Portuguese cream custard tart.
Ferreira’s mother makes many of the soups herself. “Soups are my mom’s recipes that have been in the family for decades,” he says. They include a three-bean soup and a beloved Portuguese kale soup, caldo verde. The specialty sandwich of the store is a pressed panini called a tosta mista.
Chaves a Português’s showstopper, and one of its most popular items, is the salted Norwegian codfish, brought in to fulfill special orders by customers. Requests can also be made for items not carried in-house.
Public servants receive 15 percent off their bill, and daily lunch specials are offered—soup plus soda, or sandwich plus soda, for $4. Coming soon are an espresso machine and countertops, so that customers can stand and enjoy a bite to eat in the store.
Chaves a Português is open Monday to Friday, 6 am-7 pm, Saturday 8 am-5 pm, and Sunday 7 am-3 pm. Catering services are available.
Have you stopped in yet? Which product are you most eager to try?
Chaves a Português lda
360 Mount Pleasant Ave