Wonderful Moments at Gaveto

Gaveto represents a diner in Matosinhos where vintners from the Douro Valley and the Vinho Verde regions frequently assemble. The precision in ingredient selection, flawless dish preparation, and impeccable service may be overlooked by regular visitors. However, this eatery was established gradually over a lifetime.

The founder, Manuel Pinheiro, commenced his culinary expedition at the age of 12, commencing employment in Porto at the residence of banker António Borges. At 18, Manuel secured a position at a dining establishment owned by the Borges family. His duties included lugging coal for the stove and tirelessly scrubbing pots and pans. Onward, he acquired culinary skills, kitchen management expertise, and dining area supervision. A decade later, Manuel utilized this experience to purchase a small eatery in Porto, transforming it into a favorite locale.

In 1984, while perusing fish selections at the Matosinhos marketplace, Manuel discovered that a commodious venue named Gaveto was available for acquisition. Desiring to broaden the customer base, he made the acquisition. The investment was sizable, causing his wife Margarida to shed tears for a fortnight, fearing financial ruin.

Manuel engaged his two offspring, João Carlos (depicted with his father) and José Manuel, in the enterprise. Collectively, they molded Gaveto into a culinary beacon and cultivated one of Portugal’s most remarkable wine assortments. Each time they present a rare wine from their stock, João shares an image of the bottle on Instagram tagged with his signature statement: “Some days are exceptional.”

The menu exclusively features traditional Portuguese delicacies, yet the selections are so alluring that decision-making becomes a challenge. During our recent visit, we deliberated over whether to savor the iconic lobster rice, the famed lamprey, the exquisite tiger prawns, the impeccably grilled fresh fish, or the tripe with beans, which former President Mário Soares acclaimed as the finest in the land.

When dessert beckoned, we contemplated indulging in a variety of custards and pastries, opting for the classic sponge cake, or sampling the fine Estrela Mountain cheese that Manuel procures. Decisions were not easily arrived at. At Gaveto, each day unfolds magnificently.

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Asraful Shohag

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