2015-04-22 / Restaurant of the Week


Since 1981 the Ferreira Family, led by Joao, has been serving authentic cuisine from Portugal and the Iberian Peninsula to the lucky residents of Queens and beyond who have had the good fortune of discovering this “Gem of Jamaica,” conveniently located just off the Van Wyck Expwy. “O Lavrador” means “the farmer” in Portuguese and in fact, you’ll find a bounty of fine food and wine here.

After parking in their own lot, you step into the peaceful dining room and are instantly transported into another world. The elegant, cozy and comfortable dining room is very European and features graceful, brick arches, tables dressed in crisp, white linens, shelves of wine bottles, and fresh flowers on each table. The live guitar soloist plays sultry music that fills the air Monday to Wednesday evenings, adding an extra special note to your overall experience.

Your hosts Manuela, Edgar, and Mario welcome you and invite you to sample the cuisine of their country of origin. Having had the pleasure of visiting Portugal a couple of years ago, I can say that O Lavrador serves authentic cuisine and wine, prepared with love, and served with pride. Speaking of wine, Portugal is famous for fabulous wines including vinho verde, or ‘green wine,’ which is a young wine characterized by its effervescence and light, fruity flavor. Just next door there’s a bar that’s open to all and serves delicious, hand-mixed cocktails, beers and wines. My caipirinha (kai-pee- REEN-yah) was perfectly mixed with cachaça, fresh limes and a sprinkle of sugar. Red, white or peach sangria welcomes the warmer weather and all these libations go well with the delicious food served here.

O Lavrador makes its own chouriço pork sausage which is incredibly delicious, thanks to its smoky, lean flavor. Your expert waiter will set it ablaze tableside, using fine wine, to render the skin crispy and crunchy, while the meat inside is tender and very flavorful. Croquettes of meat, chicken and shrimp are light and crisp and excellent for sharing, as are the baked clams topped with crisp, golden bread crumbs and smoky bacon ($10). Share some shrimp in garlic sauce, tomato brandy sauce, or piri-piri sauce, a spicy mix that I fell in love with in Portugal.

When you come to O Lavrador, please come hungry because the dinner entrées are huge and so delicious, you’ll probably be enjoying lunch the next day and reminiscing about your experience. The array of fish, seafood, poultry, and meat options made it difficult to decide so Manuela suggested her favorite: Mariscada Salsa Verde. Thank you Manuela because this seafood extravaganza included succulent lobster, calamari, scallops, clams and mussels swimming in a light, creamy, fragrant parsley sauce ($24). The fluffy rice that accompanies this dish is the perfect vehicle for soaking up that delicious sauce. You can have that same wonderful mix of seafood served over linguine if you wish, or cooked into a hearty paelha that gives Spain’s version a run for its money. Grilled octopus is something you must try here, and the bacalhau or codfish is a national dish. This flaky, fresh codfish is made in a number of ways: grilled with potatoes, onions and tomatoes, or stewed with clams, mussels, shrimp, and calamari, to name just a couple. Either way, these are the experts so come to O Lavrador for the real thing.

Frango means chicken in Portuguese and the grilled chicken is excellent here, served with French fries, rice, or salad. Try the frango with garlic and herb sauce or Frango Lavrador sautéed with shrimp in a light tomato sauce ($16). Our pork dish was so tasty, prepared with mild seasonings, white wine, fresh clams, and oven browned potatoes for a dish called Carne de Porco a Alentejana. We just called it outrageously good and could you please pass the dish?

Sweeten it up at the end with flaming cherries jubilee, which I hadn’t seen in years and totally ate up, literally! Poached pears in fine wine were excellent, and you’ll find crème brulee, tiramisu, creamy flan, and warm, chocolate cake. You must have a glass of Port Wine to end your meal, as is the custom in the Iberian Peninsula. This sweet, aged wine is the perfect digestif, along with a nice cup of coffee or espresso.

O Lavrador is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner. At lunch time try a smaller portion of their famous dishes, or a hefty sandwich of grilled ham and mozzarella, grilled sirloin steak on hearty bread, or classic Portuguese sandwich of beef, chouriço pork sausage and egg, served with fries. Even the hamburgers are great here.

Plan your next private party at O Lavrador. While we visited, three families came to plan baby showers, engagement parties, and graduation parties. With accommodations of up to 40 people, and excellent food and service, you will ‘wow’ your guests at O Lavrador. To the Ferreira family, I say obrigada or thank you for the singular, memorable experience of a meal at O Lavrador!

138-40 101 Avenue • Jamaica


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