Rua dos Correeiros is a street in downtown Lisbon where leathersmiths once sold harnesses to horseback riders. Local residents are used to seeing commerce evolve. But they are surprised by the how much space has recently been taken by souvenir shops and pizzerias. Will Lisbon end up losing its unique character? they ask.
At the end of Rua dos Correeiros we saw a new restaurant called Moma Grill that was full of locals. Curious, we decided to try it.
We loved the space with its mosaic floor, warm lighting, large blackboards with culinary drawings, and Thonet chairs. The owner, João Vaz Guedes, was so gracious that we were predisposed to like the food.
But when we asked for his recommendations and he said “pasteis de massa tenra,” our hearts sank. These delicate combinations of fried dough and meat filling were often on the table during our childhood. How could a restaurant compete with memories of food prepared by our grandmothers? “It’s not fair,” we told João, “the bar will be too high, we prefer to try something else.” João smiled and said, “I am very interested in your opinion, let me bring you a plate.” The pasteis were smaller and crispier than the ones we are used to. But we loved them, they were some of the best we ever had.
Our group tried an assortment of other items from the menu. Everything was delicious. The arugula salad was perfectly dressed. The codfish cakes were light, with the perfect mix of potato and fish. The grilled sardines were moist and succulent. The partridge was magically infused with the taste of olive oil and vinegar. The black pork was bursting with flavor.
The meal was well paced and the service had a quiet elegance that is rare. For the grand finale, João brought an irresistible raspberry tart accompanied by a glass of ginjinha (a cherry liqueur).
The wine list is short, but the choices are careful and the prices modest. We had a great white Encruzado and an excellent red from the Douro region (Quinta dos Aciprestes).
João and his wife Maria loved to cook for friends so, after retiring, they decided to open a restaurant to serve food inspired by Portugal’s culinary heritage. It’s people like them that keep Lisbon’s character going strong.
Moma grill is located on Rua dos Correeiros, 22-26, tel. 911 762 349.