Located few minutes away from Macau’s major streets “Rua da Palha” – one of the main road directing to The Ruins of St. Paul’s. Unlike other neighbouring restaurants around tempted to alter themselves attracting more tourist from this famous route for turnovers, Mariazinha has kept their food qualities in its best traditional styles.
Its all about family business
The name “Mariazinha” came from their family member, Maria. As a fully family owned restaurant, the son Nelson mainly in charge front of house and admin, versus his father manages the back kitchen and day to day operations.
When entered in the dining area, the interior is cozy and clean in old European winery vintage styles. The entire place all surrounded with brick wall, decorated with wooden-furnishings. Nelson the son, core person presenting such beautiful place, always having him sitting in one of the tables close to the bar area. His father, is one of the chefs in the kitchen in charge, delivering the authentic tastes.
The restaurant’s name has a story in it. The name “Mariazinha” originate from his uncle tellings where he called his mum “Little Maria” when he was a kid. It was one of their family jokes till it gradually turned the restaurant’s name till now. The store opened five years and more in Macau, which back in Portugal they also owned similar piece of business long time. Hence its tastes, fragrance, olive oil and herbs enhancements are exactly based on the same recipes from Portugal. Thus most repeating guests in Mariazinha are mainly Portuguese and Macanese that wish to taste their dishes when home sick.
The menu provided is extensive, but not “one of the usuals”. Menu are mostly written in English and Portuguese, with simple translated Chinese. By the name you wont know its authenticity; However, if you are lost and not sure where to start from, ask one of the attendant or Nelson. He would be happy to give some recommendations, talk about Mariazinha’s specials and help you choose one of the bottles from his comprehensive Portuguese wine lists with exceptional, reasonable price set, in good varieties.
Lets dig down into some of their most famous dishes.
Appetisers and Seafood
Most patrons would like to start off with some seafood dish. One dish that I particularly go pretty well is the stuffing crab, with dips and home-made cornbread; Or an alternate preference Sautéed shrimps in olive oil, garlic, and spicy sauce. A typical starter dish in mosts South European countries, owners home dish. Honestly, Im not a fan of seafood due to seafood allergies, mosts time would like to take some fried stuff, the Beef croquettes, fried Bacalhaus prior main meal starts.
Mariazinha provides Bacalhaus dish in different varieties. Apart from appetisers, they have a good way presenting their home codfish in multiple ways. Grilled salted codfish with minced shredded bread crumps and small baked potatoes; and Shredded sliced Bacalhaus with onions and French fries – are always the best way trying their signature fish in the most authentic way.
Fried pork with clams and potatoes
Calms with coriander and mixed cubed pork is always a good recommendation worth a try. Rich seafood sauce blended and strained everyday prior store opened. Separately heat-up frying pan with pork lard (instead of olive oil), cook with meaty clams; together with overnight marinated bite-sized pork neck in the pan half cooked; Add rich soup base and other ingredients together – stirred fried till well done. Pour few splashes of brandy and port before plated, which always bring its tastes to the next level. When plated it smells quite sour and fruity; when swallowed, it always taste the enriched natural sour taste – all felt quite appetizing. It’s a must order dish every time I visit there.
Sliced veal with olive oil, garlic, black pepper, with small baked potatoes
Medium cooked, all sliced up; ready to eat without chewing behind. Again, the sauce makes the difference. To make it absolute bouncy and soft, chef mixed with top-quality olive oil with crushed black paper when start frying. The veal normally comes with a generous portion of mixed sauteed vegetables and with wonderful small baked potatoes, again, with thin skin wrapping around it with a bit of sweetness in it; having potatoes well soaked with rich brandy sauce left on the plate.
Roasted Piglet with black pepper sauce and french fries
One of the very popular dish each guests will order. When plated, the skin was slightly turned into brown color; which during prep time the entire raw piglet were stuffed with special herbs, hang dried for hours before other seasonings encountered. It all well-placed inside the oven – baked until the whole piglet turned dried crispy brown. Accompanied with freshly grinded black pepper thick sauce placed on top, along with the strong herbal tastes – it perfectly bring the unique taste. Accompanied with the thick skin French fries served on the side, the whole dish quickly comes to its distinctive style.
Seafood Rice in Portuguese style
Assorted seafood rice with prawns, clams, mussels named “wet” Portuguese styles – alternatively called Marisco; Is always one a common dish that large table will order. The tomato sauce never taste too strong, the sauce are boiled and strained everyday, blended with soft rice. Honestly, if you planned ordering this dish, you dont even need to think of order their soup anymore.
The Main Specials
Francesinha Especial (com Ovo)
Inside the menu that all described core ingredients of this beautiful Portuguese Sandwich; stuffed with ham, Mortadella Cheese, beef and chorizo; covered with cheese and tomato based, served with fried egg and french fries.
This rare dish was originated from Portugal, sightly altered fit in local’s appetite. The ingredient is so filling that not a lot of people can finish all. Hence, chef has chosen thinner bread slice reduce some carbohydrates. After all stuffings piled properly in squared shape, having sandwich wrapped up with few food layers of sliced cheese, placed in the oven till melted. After, accompanied with sunny side up eggs on top, glazed with a massive, thick orange sauce.
The secret recipe of this dish is the sauce, where the essence comes from few dashes of brandy and whisky sprinkles; after plated cannot taste the alcohol anymore, but rather in a very appetizing, sour-rich flavored tastes that neutralize the oilness from the spongy soaked bread slices.
Grilled Octopus with small baked potatos
As a squid and octopus lover, I never tried such tender octopus before, with a strong grilled flavor. It is so moisture and strong in flavor; the octopus almost sinked into olive oil base. First impression might taste extremely oily, eventually when tasted, the olive oil used was so pure and light that your mouth never gets greasy at all; in fact it soothes your stomach and feel good after finish the dish.
If wish, you can add olive oil till covering the whole octopus soaked in the plate – together with the small grilled potato set on the side, you will definitely experience its most original way.
I cant even move after cleaning up all dishes left on the table! Here few good recommendations from the owner:
Chocolate sponge cake is always a good choice to pick from. Crunchy on the outside and moist on the inside, true chocolate color and rich in flavor.
Portuguese sponge cake with top filling of egg cream (Pao de Lo) is also one of my bests favorites, but bear in mind these dishes are quite sweet and take time to digest with a good cup of coffee; Make sure you leave some space in your stomach before you regret anything further!