Valenca in Elizabeth, NJ

7 Nov

Having a destination wedding meant a few of our favorite people couldn’t make it.  It was a bummer that we couldn’t celebrate with them, but a few of them offered to take us out to dinner to celebrate afterwards.  My cousins were one of those lovely, generous couples.

They told us that they had a place that they thought would be NomNom approved.  So off to Elizabeth, NJ we went to try Portuguese Restaurant, Valenca.

The restaurant wound up being huge inside with multiple rooms (I believe they bought up a few surrounding locations over the years).

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We got a pitcher of their sangria and it seemed quite appropriate that the pitcher had a lobster on it (since we had a lobster heavy Maine wedding).

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We started with a big bowl of salad for the table. It was fresh and dressed really well.  Simple and good.

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We saw a few flaming plates going by, so we quickly decided to order an appetizer of the grilled portuguese sausage, “flamed at tableside.”

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They then sliced it up for us.

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And with each slice you could hear a crispy crackle through the outside of the casing.

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It smelled great, but it tasted even better.  A little on the tough side, but somehow that didn’t matter as the crispiness gave way to an incredibly flavorful (yet not spicy) filling.

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Under the recommendation of our hosts, I ordered the surf and turf on a hot sizzling stone.  It came out with the meat set on a metal plate, along with butter and a lemon.

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And a side of homemade chips and rice.

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But the main event was truly the “cook your own” meat.  This stone came out blazing hot, and you slap your meat and shrimp on there and let it go.  My cousin gave us the tip that you don’t trim it up beforehand, but rather put it all on the stone and then slice it thin and eat after it cooks.  I was surprised, but it cooked up quickly and deliciously.  And sure enough, it was incredibly delicious.

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My cousin got a shellfish stew which she gets every time and loves.

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And Mike went with the paella with tons of seafood.  This was the biggest dish I have ever seen.  You can’t tell from the picture, but this was the width of a dinner plate and a few inches deep.  Everything tasted deliciously like the sea.

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We really loved our meal at Valenca and I really think Portuguese food is a hugely under appreciated cuisine.  Every time I’ve had it, I’ve loved it.  If you find yourself near Elizabeth, NJ, Valenca is definitely a great place to stop. It was a fun and different meal, and I highly recommend that hot sizzling stone!

NomNom approved!

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

Total Nom Points: 7.5 out of 10

 

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