If you snake along the river to the bustling seaside town of Matosinhos, you’ll encounter one of our favorite restaurants on the planet, O Gaveto. Run by Joao Carlos Silva and his family, this restaurant is not only part of the cultural fabric of Porto, but sells some of the best fish and seafood in the North of Portugal. If you’re in the vicinity, be sure to order their seafood sampler.
Joao Carlos Silva’s Top Tips for Eating Fish in Portugal
- Portugal as a whole is blessed with some of the best fish and seafood in the world.
- Good food must be accompanied by fantastic wine, which Portugal has ample amounts of
- Beyond seafood, salted cod (bacalhau) is a must try in Portugal
- Great service in O Gaveto means that the customer feels completely at home
- The port wine houses are a must visit while in Porto
- O Gaveto will soon reopen in a beautifully revamped space.
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1. Seafood is clearly a major highlight of Portuguese cuisine, in large part due to your coastal position. What is Portugal’s secret to serving up such stunning seafood?
The clean, cold water along the rocky coast makes for an ideal habitat for fish and seafood; and we’re next to the largest fishing port in Portugal, allowing us to receive fresh fish daily. Consequently, we’re extremely privileged to enjoy some of the best fish in the world, which makes our job simple. We intervene as little as possible to allow the fish and seafood to speak for itself. We add salt to fish, grill and serve.
2. Gaveto is unique not only due to its menu, but the frequent number of winemakers that have made it their second home. How has Portuguese wine changed since Gaveto opened and what is the most exciting aspect of it today?
In the last 30 years, the panorama of Portuguese wines and consumers have changed radically. Being a seafood restaurant, we tend to sell more white wine. What has been interesting, however, is seeing the enormous change in Vinho Verde wines that went from light and sugary wines with a touch of gas to beautifully structured wines with freshness and acidity that pair stunningly with seafood. The Douro region has gone from almost non-existent white wines to extremely diverse and versatile wines that can accompany any type of fish from salted cod to baked fish. We argue that good food must be accompanied by good wine, an opinion also shared by many winemakers and producers who choose O Gaveto; whereby making their wines known to customers, critics and friends.
3. Gaveto focuses on marisco (seafood), but your menu highlights a variety of items. What are some of your favorite dishes that people tend to overlook, but shouldn’t?
If there was ever a dish few people order at O Gaveto, it’s our Bacalhau (salted cod). And though we feature a new recipe daily, our Icelandic Bacalhau roasted in olive oil is a personal favorite, as the natural fats enhance the texture, bringing the entire dish to life. If your a meat lover, then be sure to order our entrecosto de boi grelhado.
4. For Catavino, great service is paramount to a wonderful experience, which is why we love Gaveto! What does great service mean to you?
We practice an informal yet attentive service, so that our customers feel at home. For us good service not only means that our customers feel relaxed and cared for, but that they’re listened to. We take great care to understand exactly what they want to experience, so that our suggestions match accordingly. As a family restaurant, with staff who have been with for decades, we genuinely care about our customers, and we take great pride in that.
5. If you could give one travel tip to people visiting Porto, what would it be?
I highly suggest a walk along the river in both Porto and Gaia; a visit to the Port Wine cellars, a visit to the Serralves museum, and a late-afternoon stroll along the river’s mouth to the sea where you can finish with a sunset dinner in Matosinhos at one of the many fish and seafood restaurants lined with the enticing aroma of grilled fish.
6. Finally, do you have any sites, events, projects, or other cool things you want to plug or share with our audience?
In the very near future, Gaveto will reopen in our original location with a completely remodeled space. On the ground floor, we’ll retain our classic style with traditional Portuguese tiles lining the main floor and counter surrounding our live shellfish aquariums. The second floor, we’ve created a polyvalent space dedicated to events and groups for which wine will play a more prominent role. That said, the cornerstone of our restaurant is our cuisine, and we fully anticipate to keep it as it’s always been: fresh, simple, delicious, and most importantly, traditional.
Find Joao Carlos Silva
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