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All photos by Robert Sietsema

Sietsema Explores Newark's Ironbound

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Ironbound, a picturesque 19th-century neighborhood that follows the twisting course of the Passaic River downstream from downtown Newark, was named for the prevalence of iron foundries and rail yards within its four-square-mile expanse. The neighborhood was first settled by Germans, Poles, and Ukrainians, and became famous for its breweries and taverns, but by 1910 Portuguese started arriving, a group that still dominates Ironbound streets, giving them a distinctly southern European feel.

Ironbound is a short walk from Newark's Penn Station, where PATH trains arrive from New York City. A walk down the main drags of Ferry Street and Wilson Avenue, with their late-night pastry shops and fragrant barbecues, past the landmark 1874 St. Stephans Church, will make you feel like you're strolling the streets of Lisbon. Nowadays, the newcomers to the neighborhood are Brazilians, who have added their own special flavor to the streets, especially along Wilson Avenue.

ironboundiberias.jpg[Iberia]

The Portuguese are as obsessed with cooking over hardwood as Texans, and as you maneuver down Ferry Street, past the sprawling, castellated restaurant Iberia (80-84 Ferry Street, 973-344-7603, more impressive landmark than dining option), the first thing you'll smell is fragrant smoke wafting through the streets. Portuguese barbecues utilize pits with hinged lids, often located right in the dining room. Attendants turn rotisserie cranks by hand, as the plump chickens kick like a Radio City chorus line. Specializing in both poultry and pork ribs, Ironbound BBQs are really inexpensive. Sometimes you can get steaks, too, and the entrees are served with pickled veggies, plus fried potatoes and well-oiled rice, for a double-starch whammy. (Triple, I guess, since there's bread and butter on the table, too.)

ironboundferryst.jpg[Ferry St. Barbecue]

Easiest of these smoke pits to get to is Ferry St. Barbecue (89 Ferry Street, 973-344-7337), which boasts some tables right on the street, but a longtime favorite of mine, patronized by Newark cops in a building that was undoubtedly once a German corner tavern, is McWhorter Barbecue (104 McWhorter Street, 973-344-2633).

ironpicnic.jpg[Pic-Nic Barbecue]

Claiming to be the neighborhood's oldest smoked-chicken joint, but also offering pig and lamb, Pic-Nic Barbecue (233 Ferry Street, 973-589-4630) is another favorite.

ironboundlopes.jpg[Lopes Co.]

No visit to Ironbound would be complete without dropping in at Lopes Co. (304 Walnut Street, 973- 344-3063) an ancient outfit that fabricates all manner of Portuguese charcuterie on the premises, including the dried pork sausage called linguica, and wonderful presunto hams (something like prosciutto, only more rustic). The store lets you watch butchers at work, and there are kitschy pig statues everywhere. Picturesque Independence Park is a half-block away. Picnic!

ironboundseabras.jpg[Seabra's]

Ironbound boasts two marisquieras—a type of Portuguese restaurant that specializes in seafood. Seabra's Marisquiera (87 Madison Street, 973-465-1250) is the oldest and most accessible, with a lovely, blue-tiled barroom in front, and starchy formal dining room in the rear. In between is an open kitchen and iced display of fish that even fancy Manhattan seafood restaurants would have trouble duplicating, and much cheaper, too. Sit in the front room with neighborhood types, and wash down a wildly generous plate of octopus salad with a Sagres beer or glass of Portuguese white wine.

When it comes to pastries, two iconic items—one Portuguese, one Brazilian—battle it out for neighborhood supremacy. For the former, it's pasteis de Nata: a delightful little custard pie with a flaky crust and nicely browned top. Named after a Lisbon neighborhood, it shows a Moorish influence via the extra egg yolks in the filling. Get the best at Teixeira's Bakery (186 Ferry Street, 973-344-4902), where you'll find yourself welcome to linger as long as you like over a pastry and demitasse of very strong espresso. There are several other branches of this typical Portuguese pastry shop in the neighborhood.

ironboundcasadepao.jpg[Casa de Pao de Quijo]

From the Brazilian side of the ledger comes pao de quijo, wonderfully rubbery little round cheese breads invariably served warm right out of the oven. It's the tapioca starch in the recipe that makes the balls so Brazilian and so rubbery. Get them at Casa de Pao de Quijo (331 Wilson Avenue, 973-344-3232), a bakery that specializes in snacky little pastries and meat-stuffed fritters, but also offers a selection of Brazilian comfort-food meals. Open 24 hours!

I knew you were going to ask me where to get the all-can-eat Brazilian barbecued meat feed called the churrasco, cooked on a barbecue grill called a churrasqueira. Waiters dressed as Argentine gauchos circulate the dining room, offering portions of several meats, and there's a buffet of typical Brazilian dishes including black-bean feijoada and multiple mayo-laced salads. I hesitate to recommend these places, because you often leave feeling sick to your stomach, but here goes: Boi Na Brasa (70 Adams Street, 973- 589-6069). The name means "Bull on the Coals."

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Ferry Street Barbecue

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89 Ferry St
Newark, NJ 07105
(973) 344-7337

A great, easy to get to Portuguese bbq spot

2. McWhorter Barbeque

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104 McWhorter St
Newark, NJ 07105
(973) 344-2633
Visit Website

Another great Portuguese bbq spot, this one frequented by cops. [Photo via Yelp]

3. Pic-Nic BBQ

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233 Ferry St
Newark, NJ 07105
(973) 589-4630

Claiming to be the neighborhood's oldest smoked-chicken joint, but also offering pig and lamb, Pic-Nic is another favorite.

4. Lopes Co. Meat Market

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Walnut Street
Newark, NJ 07105

An ancient outfit that fabricates all manner of Portuguese charcuterie on the premises, including the dried pork sausage called linguica, and wonderful presunto hams.

5. Seabra's Marisqueira

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87 Madison St
Newark, NJ 07105
(973) 465-1250

The oldest and most accessible of Newark's marisqueiras, with a lovely, blue-tiled barroom in front, and starchy formal dining room in the rear.

6. Teixeiras Bakery

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184 Ferry St
Newark, NJ 07105
(973) 344-0103

Here get pasteis de Nata: a delightful little custard pie with a flaky crust and nicely browned top. [Photo via Romancing the Scone]

7. Casa Do Pao De Queijo

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131 Wilson Ave
Newark, New Jersey 07105
(973) 344-4148

Get pao de quijo at Casa Do Pao De Queijo, a bakery that specializes in snacky little pastries and meat-stuffed fritters, but also offers a selection of Brazilian comfort-food meals.

8. Boi na Brasa Churrascaria

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70 Adams St
Newark, NJ 07105
(973) 589-6069
Visit Website

I hesitate to recommend these places, because you often leave feeling sick to your stomach, but here goes: Boi Na Brasa.

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1. Ferry Street Barbecue

89 Ferry St, Newark, NJ 07105

A great, easy to get to Portuguese bbq spot

89 Ferry St
Newark, NJ 07105

2. McWhorter Barbeque

104 McWhorter St, Newark, NJ 07105

Another great Portuguese bbq spot, this one frequented by cops. [Photo via Yelp]

104 McWhorter St
Newark, NJ 07105

3. Pic-Nic BBQ

233 Ferry St, Newark, NJ 07105

Claiming to be the neighborhood's oldest smoked-chicken joint, but also offering pig and lamb, Pic-Nic is another favorite.

233 Ferry St
Newark, NJ 07105

4. Lopes Co. Meat Market

Walnut Street, Newark, NJ 07105

An ancient outfit that fabricates all manner of Portuguese charcuterie on the premises, including the dried pork sausage called linguica, and wonderful presunto hams.

Walnut Street
Newark, NJ 07105

5. Seabra's Marisqueira

87 Madison St, Newark, NJ 07105

The oldest and most accessible of Newark's marisqueiras, with a lovely, blue-tiled barroom in front, and starchy formal dining room in the rear.

87 Madison St
Newark, NJ 07105

6. Teixeiras Bakery

184 Ferry St, Newark, NJ 07105

Here get pasteis de Nata: a delightful little custard pie with a flaky crust and nicely browned top. [Photo via Romancing the Scone]

184 Ferry St
Newark, NJ 07105

7. Casa Do Pao De Queijo

131 Wilson Ave, Newark, New Jersey 07105

Get pao de quijo at Casa Do Pao De Queijo, a bakery that specializes in snacky little pastries and meat-stuffed fritters, but also offers a selection of Brazilian comfort-food meals.

131 Wilson Ave
Newark, New Jersey 07105

8. Boi na Brasa Churrascaria

70 Adams St, Newark, NJ 07105

I hesitate to recommend these places, because you often leave feeling sick to your stomach, but here goes: Boi Na Brasa.

70 Adams St
Newark, NJ 07105

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