Life is made of connections and disconnections. Fernando Sousa and Margarida Batista had a restaurant in Viseu, our hometown, for many years. We lived in the same city without ever crossing paths. Nine years ago, the couple moved to Vouzela, a quiet village in the countryside. We heard about their restaurant from Abílio Tavares da Silva during a visit to the Douro valley. Since then, we have tried a few times to make reservations but received a friendly message telling us the restaurant was fully booked. Finally, we managed to email with enough lead time to secure a table for lunch.
We got off the highway, following the sign that reads Vouzela, and soon we were driving on a narrow, winding road. The sight of granite dominates the landscape. There is granite on every hill, and these stones are used in street pavements, exterior walls, and church façades.
Fernando greeted us with a promise: “I will take care of you.” He manages the dining room, and Margarida does the cooking. We sat at the table, and soon a pleasant Dão wine made with the classic trio of local red grapes, Alfrocheiro, Touriga Nacional, and Jaen, filled our glasses.
Then Fernando brought a wood turntable with rice cooked in the oven with mushrooms, sausages, and meats, and golden veal accompanied by vegetables and roasted new potatoes. Both dishes have sumptuous flavors. The veal melts in the mouth, and the rice is deeply satisfying.
Fernando showed us with pride a photograph of Maria de Lurdes Modesto, the chef who codified traditional Portuguese cooking, taken when she visited them. It is natural that Modesto, who prized flavor above all, liked this restaurant.
Margarida is a simple place. What makes it shine is Fernando’s copious affability and Margarida’s gifted cooking. What else do we need?
Margarida is located at Rua Mousinho de Albuquerque 33 in Vouzela, tel. 936 935 843, email email@example.com. It is a small restaurant; reservations are a must.