The Queens Courier
"Portuguese at its finest"
Joanna M. Adduci
October 16, 2012
Dining | Portuguese at its finest | Queens Courier
The Village Voice
"Winter Guide: Cozy Up to New York's Warming Restaurants"
November 24, 2010
...While there are no great Portuguese restaurants in Manhattan, there is a very nice and cozy one between downtown Jamaica and Kennedy Airport, a perfect side trip if you’re on the way to somewhere else. O Lavrador (“O Farmer,” 138-40 101st Avenue, Queens, 718-526-1526) is ancient, outfitted in dark woods and so deep that you can’t see the rear of the establishment as you enter. Cod fritters and other bar snacks are delicious, but look at the chalkboard for the meat and fish specials (including seafood stews called caldeiras), and get yourself a bucket of Portuguese Sagres beer to wash it all down....
Incredibly Cheap Eats
"Salt Cod Fritters at O Lavrador, a Portugese Restaurant in Jamaica, Queens"
March 2, 2010
"Portugal in Jamaica at O Lavrador Restaurant"
April 6, 2010
The New York Times
August 28, 1992
$25 and Under
Richmond Hill, a Queens neighborhood of small houses and run-down industries, is not a place you’d expect to find a farm, But then, O Lavrador is not exactly an agricultural enterprise. O Lavrador is Portuguese for The Farmer, and the name of this rustic restaurant and tavern is a paean to the Portuguese farmer, who, as the florid menu indicates, "dedicated his free time to the chores of fishing."
While the specialty of the house is seafood, prepared as the menu says, "in the homemade taste, as only our mothers knew how," the Portuguese farmers must have had a way with chicken, too because O Lavrador makes a terrific barbecued chicken, cooked over natural-wood charcoal.
O Lavrador is not much to look at, a stone façade next to a liquor store on a grimy block. But the food draws a steady business from a diverse clientele, including workers at Kennedy Airport, Jamaica Hospital and York College, as well as local residents. Fernando Condesso, an assistant manager with TAP Air Portugal, says he eats lunch there once a week. Aside from the food, he said, "the ethnic atmosphere is one of the main things that drives me there."
There are two heavy wood doors in front, the left one leading to a sometimes raucous tavern, the right to a more sedate dining room with the dignified informality of oak floors, brick walls and dim lights. On one wall are scenes from the old country; on another is a painting of what seems to be conquistadors confronting the people of the New World.
Appetizers center on seafood, and among the best were a half-dozen cherrystone clams in broth, flavored with Portuguese ham and chorizo. The clams also came in a garlic-and-oil sauce, perfect for sopping up with big slabs of fresh, dense whole-wheat bread. Broiled shrimp were charred perfectly but were difficult to extract from their shells.
Two appetizers that need more of Mother’s attention were a mound of tender mussels in a bland cream sauce and, in a nod to Portugal’s Iberian neighbor, gazpacho, which was tasty enough but had an unattractive layer of oil floating on top.
The main courses are hug and come with mountains of yellow rice and crisp French fries, almost impossible to finish If you’ve had an appetizer. Pork and clams a specialty of southern Portugal, are a delicious juxtaposition of flavors, the chunks of pork marinated in wine and spices set off against the clams in a lemony brown sauce. The barbecued chicken was marinated in a hot sauce and seared to a peppery crisp on the outside while still tender within. It came with a cache of picked carrots. Succulent fried veal with white wine and lemon, another Spanish dish, came with green beans and rice.
Arroz de mariscos, which is shrimp, squid, scallops and clams with rice was tender enough but bland, and dry salted codfish broiled with potatoes, green peppers and onions was, no surprise, dry and salty.
Vinho verde, or green wine (actually yellow) in a fine accompaniment to this food. The different varieties are fresh, low in alcohol and slightly effervescent. Alianca is a nice, refreshing choice.
Beyond a moist orange cake in a sweet caramel syrup, desserts were not a high point at O Lavrador. But after all, we were promised a Portuguese farmer, not a baker.
"The Hit List"
"…Off-the-beaten-path, well priced ethnic restaurants in New York City…"
"O Lavrador (Portuguese). Sit at the bar and try pork and clams over french fries or the exceptional barbecued chicken."
Marcia Moxam Comrie
"A Gem of Portuguese Dining"
November 4, 2001
"A popular veteran, O Lavrador specializes in in soulful cooking. Among the winning dishes are roasted pig, fried pork chops, broiled porgy, octopus with onions and garlicky shrimp."
"New York's Hidden Restaurants"
Tonia N. Cimino
October 19, 2005
"A Tradition of Good Food"
"Many families have recipes that are passed down from generation to generation. But at O Lavrador Bar & Restaurant, two generations combine to bring a tradition of good food to the table.
With a plethora of Portuguese-Spanish and American cuisine, and specializing in seafood dishes, O Lavrador (which means "farmer" in Portuguese) is the perfect place for all occasions – from corporate affairs to wedding to birthdays.
My companion and I had the pleasure of eating there, and we felt the warmth of the staff and owners who have helped to make the restaurant a staple in the neighborhood since 1981.
Our gracious hostess, Manuela Henriques, general manager and daughter of the owners João and Almerinda Ferreira, was kind enough to make recommendations as to our selections, since the menu was quite extensive.
But first she treated us to a pitcher of sangria, a traditional summer drink that combines red wine with fruit, soda and brandy for a sort of citrus wine spritzer.
We began with chourico caseiro and polvo a feira. The former was a dish of homemade sausage flambé. An amazing display as it was brought to the table, the sausage was crispy and had an intensely smoky flavor. Absolutely divine. The polvo, which was octopus with paprika and olive oil, was mild in flavor, yet complex in its texture.
For entrees, we indulge in paelha marinheira and filete de linguado a delicia. The paelha, which consisted of lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari and scallops in saffron rice, was a beautiful array of colors. The abundant amounts of seafood were a perfect complement to the rice, which was delicately peppered with fresh peas. The fielete was a filet of sole with banana in a wine, butter and lemon sauce. Exquisitely unique, the fish was surrounded by fresh vegetables and rice. The juxtaposition of the sweet banana with the tender filet was astoundingly delicious. Highly recommened. For dessert, although we were sated by the hearty potions, we nevertheless had an expresso, mango sorbet and bolo de cenoura (carrot cake). The sorbet, served in a mango, was light and refreshing, while the carrot cake was sinfully delicious, yet not too sweet. The dessert menu, I was pleased to note, also includes pears in port wine and baked apples in a brandy sauce – quite enticing.
I was thoroughly impressed by the warm atmosphere and impeccable food at O Lavrador, as I truly felt transported to Portugal."
"O Lavrador: You Could be Dining In Lisbon"
Step into the cozy, charming dining room where you are warmly greeted by the gracious staff, inhale the delicious aromas emanating from the kitchen, close your eyes and you’ll swear you are in Portugal. Good news, you are only ten minutes from JFK! So if you can’t escape to the Mediterranean, this is the next best thing for an hour or two.
Manuela Ferreira, the lovely young manager, discusses the menu with us, recommends a refreshing red sangria, and answers our questions about the restaurant. O Lavrador belongs to her family and I’m surprised to learn, has been opened sinche 1981. Seafood is the star here and for those who love Bacalhau (codfish) it’s available prepared three different way. We opt for Chourico Caseiro to start, homemade sausages flambéed, tasty, tender and well seasoned, and clams in a mouthwatering garlic wine sauce. Every last bit of this sauce was consumed with the homemade Portuguese bread.
For our main course, we savored grilled shrimp in house sauce, which came cooked to perfection, moist and subtly spiced, and the Mariscada in Salsa Verde, an abundance of lobster, clams, mussels, shrimp, calamari and scallops in an incredibly delicious green parsley sauce. The salsa verde was the best we’ve ever tasted, including those we’ve had in Portugal!
O Lavrador’s menu also features a fine selection of grilled steaks and chops for those who prefer heartier fare. The steaks we saw our neighboring table devour with gusto convinced us a return visit is in order. Although we couldn’t eat another bite, we managed to share a wonderful homemade flan and a fine glass of white port.
O Lavrador has a lovely bar and two private party rooms. Metion the Airport Press whether you stop by for a drink or dinner. And enjoy!