- Graziano Scaldaferri
Right across New England, the local cuisine is dominated by seafood, and all the more so in the city of New Bedford, one of the biggest ports in America. New Bedford’s dining scene, however, is diverse enough to ensure dynamism, including an unusual concentration of Portuguese restaurants. Find out what’s cooking in our updated guide to 10 unmissable restaurants in New Bedford, Massachusetts.
Due to historic reasons, and more precisely to the 19th century migratory flows from Europe, New Bedford is home to the largest Portuguese-American community in the United States, which explains the high rate of Portuguese restaurants in the city. Established in 1989, Antonio’s is one of the most prominent Portuguese eateries in town, voted no less than best ethnic restaurant in all New England by noted food magazine Bon Appetit. Come here to taste Portugal’s traditional, authentic dishes like pork alentejana (sautéed pork tenderloin topped with littlenecks and fried potatoes) or a plate of cacoila (bits of marinated pork stewed in a spicy sauce).
Antonio’s Restaurant, 267 Coggeshall St, New Bedford, MA, USA, +1 508 990 3636
Join Cork Wine and Tapas in downtown New Bedford, and enjoy a tipple while nibbling your choice of tasty tapas. Cork is housed in a historic building formerly used to store nautical equipment. The warehouse was restored and transformed in a truly charming venue, but parts of the original establishment like the beautiful stone walls were cleverly untouched. Unsurprisingly, many (but not all) of the tantalising tapas – lobster crostini, sautéed shrimps, fried oysters – feature the fresh seafood that invades New Bedford everyday from the city’s harbour. Cork often hosts acts by local musicians, so be sure to check the restaurant’s programme beforehand for the possibility of some accompanying live music.
Cork Wine & Tapas Bar, 90 Front St, New Bedford, MA, USA, +1 508 994 9463
Cotali Mar is another restaurant where the cuisine is influenced by the strong Portuguese presence in New Bedford; however the menu features an eclectic mix of Portuguese and local fare with a few more international touches. Every dish is utterly delicious and expertly prepared; but Cotali Mar’s real edge is its stunning venue. This restaurant boasts a grand, classy dining room that immediately reminds diners of a ballroom, and is in fact frequently booked for special events. Another area, with a completely different look and feel, is inspired by the rustic style of Tuscany’s osterias. As if this wasn’t enough, Cotali Mar also provides al fresco seating on a large outdoor patio, anchored by a small, gushing fountain in the centre of the space.
Cotali Mar Restaurante, 1178 Acushnet Ave, New Bedford, MA, USA, +1 508 990 0066
Sometimes, there’s nothing better than having a light, healthy lunch with a soul-warming soup, especially if the soup is as delicious as it gets. For those times, New Bedford’s residents and visitors can drive to Destination Soups, a cosy, neighbourhood spot serving up tasty soups, fresh salads, delicious sandwiches and sweet pastries. The soups – the signature chicken vegetable and tomato basil are available every day – are served with a ciabatta or a French stick bread, the sandwiches with crispy potato chips, and every item comes with vegetarian and vegan options. Before ordering, make sure to take a look at the daily specials on the board.
Destination Soups Inc, 141 Union St, New Bedford, MA, USA, +1 508 991 7687
Looking for Mexican food in New Bedford? No problem! Head down to taqueria No Problemo – they will take good care of you. A popular lunch spot, here you can choose between tacos, taquitos, burritos, quesadillas and a selection of delicious tortas. Each staple is available with a variety of mouth-watering fillings, and at particularly convenient prices: tacos and taquitos range from $3 to $4, while you can pay as low as $5 and no more than $7 for every other item. For such fresh, flavourful bites and hearty portions, No Problemo proves to be a quick, tasty lunch with great value.
No Problemo, 813 Purchase St, New Bedford, MA, USA, +1 508 984 1081
Located a bit off the city’s centre, Italian restaurant Riccardi’s is nonetheless worth the extra detour. Open since 1973, Riccardi’s has long been a favourite among New Bedford’s residents looking for an exquisite meal of Italian fare, although the dishes are admittedly if somewhat altered to accommodate American and New England flavours and ingredients. Start with the appetizing crostini, and continue with the ultimate baked lasagna: multiple layers of egg noodles seasoned with ricotta, special cheeses, ground beef and tomato sauce. Riccardi’s is also equipped to satisfy pizza fans with its range of thin-crusted, melt-in-your-mouth pizzas – choose from the menu or craft it yourself picking from the available toppings.
Seafire Grillhouse and Bar
It is perhaps to pay homage to the historic, Candleworks building in which Seafire Grillhouse and Bar is housed that tables here are illuminated by candlelight during dinner. Stone walls, luscious wooden floors and elegant décor complement the intimate atmosphere of this downtown restaurant, a perfect choice for a romantic date. The kitchen effortlessly produces delectable dishes of both meat and fish, taking broad influences from several international cuisines. Seafood courses such as the seared scallops risotto and the swordfish casino are particularly flavourful, but the steaks and burgers are no less deserving of attention. Watch out for the restaurant’s calendar of events – Seafire frequently hosts music and dancing nights.
Seafire Grillhouse & Bar, 72 N Water St, New Bedford, MA, USA, +1 508 999 3333
The Green Bean
No judgements against vegetarians and vegans at downtown New Bedford’s The Green Bean. In fact, this cosy, welcoming café happily caters to veggie advocates with a selection of mouth-watering, wholesome snacks that have enough taste and flavour to appeal even to the most stubborn carnivor. Moreover, The Green Bean has two more good factors that make it worth visiting: the café frequently hosts live performance by local musicians; and in a similar effort to support New Bedford’s artistic community, The Green Bean’s walls exhibit fresh works by a rotating selection of regional contemporary artists.
The Green Bean, 740 Purchase St, New Bedford, MA, USA, +1 508 984 3300
Open daily for breakfast and lunch, and on Fridays and Saturday nights for dinner, Tia Maria’s is a casual, cosy spot offering European snacks and dishes, with Portuguese treats a particular speciality. Many of New Bedford’s Portuguese come here to reconnect with their roots and sample the aromas of the land where they were born, or that was the homeland of their ancestors. Tia Maria’s is also frequented by crowds of sweet tooths who swing by for the house’s delicious homemade pastries and desserts, which they like to wash down with the café’s great coffee. The Whaling Museum – New Bedford used to be a prominent city in regards to the whaling industry – is right next door.
Tia Maria’s European Cafe, 42 N Water St, New Bedford, MA, USA, +1 508 993 8900
Many of the best restaurants in New Bedford – including several of those featured in this list – are in downtown New Bedford, in close proximity to the city’s iconic port, but Waterfront Grille is one of the few to be right on the waterfront. It’s easy to guess that the picturesque view of the docks it overlooks, bustling with boats and fishermen, is a show- stopper, especially if enjoyed from the enchanting outdoor patio. Inside, the restaurant is equally captivating, and decorated with spot-on fixtures in a maritime theme. Another easy prediction is that Waterfront Grille’s cuisine largely focuses on delectable fish and seafood delicacies, with a whole separate sushi menu.
Waterfront Grille, 36 Homer’s Wharf, New Bedford, MA, USA, +1 508 997 7010