A tiny slice of Portugal in Inman Square
by John Buntin
Inman Square boasts a number of restaurants that cater to Cambridge's
Portuguese community. The newest is O Cantinho, a small café whose
proprietor, Joseph Cerqueira, also owns the excellent Portuguese restaurant
Atasca. With its bright orange walls and flowers in hand-painted pots, O
Cantinho has a cheerful, homey atmosphere that should give it instant crossover
As should the food. Moelas guisadas -- chicken giblets served in a spicy piri
piri sauce ($3) -- will tempt even those who normally avoid internal organs.
And when the table next to ours mistakenly received our bowl of polvo guisado
($4), octopus stewed in a red-wine sauce, they were understandably reluctant to
part with it.
The café also serves a wide selection of salads and hot and cold
sandwiches. The salada com pasteis de bacalhau ($4.95) -- warm black-eyed pea
salad topped with fried salt-cod cakes -- was a particular favorite. Like most
European-style sandwiches, O Cantinho's are meat-and-bread affairs, without
condiments or other toppings. The moist febras de porco ($3.95) is made of thin
slices of marinated pork loin served on a Portuguese bun; the quiejo São
Jorge com presunto features home-cured ham topped with sharp St. Jorge
O Cantinho's midnight closing time, along with its case of cakes, pastries,
flans, and custards, suggests that this place has its sights on diners who want
to continue dinnertime conversations begun elsewhere. Try an espresso and a
queijada (a chewy Portuguese cupcake), lean back, and talk into the night.
O Cantinho, located at 1128 Cambridge Street (Inman Square), in Cambridge,
is open daily from 6 a.m. to midnight. Call (617) 354-3443.
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