Break Bread with Alfama’s Pão de Deus Without Breaking the Bank
I may have once griped that midtown is where authentic ethnic food goes to die. With all of the generic delis, weak sauce dumplings and ‘Momofuku meets Chipotle’ concepts, I breathe a sigh of relief when an institution like Alfama (52nd between 2nd and 3rd) graces midtown with their presence. But Alfama, a fairly well regarded Portuguese transplant from the West Village, is certainly beyond our price range at Midtown Lunch. However, they’ve recently rolled out a line of inexpensive, fresh savory and sweet baked goods, which they start serving at 7am in the morning – perfect for a breakfast on the go, or an afternoon snack.
When asked for a recommendation, the hostess immediately guided me towards the Pão de Deus ($3.50), or ‘heavenly bread’. “I eat one of these every morning”, she explained. Indeed, they make a perfect breakfast – they’re substantial enough to keep you going until lunch time, but unlike a doughnut, they’re not overly sweet or greasy. Rebecca Marx’s description over at Fork in the Road does this pastry justice, “faintly sweet, brioche-like crumb, working in concentric circles until you strike gold”. The gold being a tangle of toasty, not too sweet shreds of coconut. I’m not sure about the ‘heavenly’ moniker, but at least Alfama is keeping authentic Portuguese food alive and well.
Alfama, 214 East 52nd St (btw. 2+3rd), 212-759-5552