Text José Silva | Translation Bruno Ferreira
Marco Gomes was born in Alfândega da Fé, Trás-os-Montes. He studied in Bragança, graduated quite early and started an effulgent journey that led him to hotels and restaurants all over the country: Algarve, Lisboa, Viseu, Alfândega da Fé, Chaves and Amarante – place where he reopened the inn’s restaurant “Casa da Calçada”.
From there he got catapulted to Porto, where he opened the restaurant “Foz Velha”, in old Foz, by the sea and near the mouth of Douro’s river, twelve years ago.
During those twelve years he turned this restaurant into one of the most appreciated and well-known in town, where he practices a signature cuisine and mostly based of Portuguese traditional products and our aromas and tastes while maintaining a strong connection to Trás-os-Montes, his motherland. He then began a career that would give him national and even international recognition as he has been being invited to cook in several parts of the globe: Spain, Brasil, USA, Canada, Sweden, Denmark, Switzerland, Scotland, Germany, Hong-Kong and Macau. In the latter he participated even in the startup of a new project. Nowadays he takes part on a project in S. Miguel’s island, “Forneria Sta. Clara” restaurant, in Azores.
He also took part in the preparation of several books, one of which very curious. A book that he shares with other colleagues where each of them cooks with their own sons! Like father…
Doing small, medium and large scale services became a constant, a bit all over the country. He provides training in some schools, often helping students doing their internships and finding employment.
Naturally, he was invited to participate in a tv show, “Praça da Alegria”, a space he shared with other colleagues and where he stayed until this tv show was “relocated” to Lisbon. Nowadays he finds his space on “Porto Canal”’s morning broadcast, once a week, quite successfully. But life demands evolution, and so he has recently decided to make major changes at his “old” Foz Velha and got down to work. Having recuperated some years ago two rooms on the ground floor, he also created “Academia Marco Gomes”, a multipurpose space for show cooking, training and meals for small groups. While keeping said space and he also created a new concept, with a new image, new logos and a brand new decoration: the “Casa do Marco”.
He renewed the infrastructures, improved comfort and, on the first floor, the former “Foz Velha” gave place to two spaces and concepts: “Foz Velha” remains a more modest spot with a cozy hearth where they only serve tasting menus, keeping the quality and service level that we got used to.
Most of the room space is now occupied with “Casa do Marco”, a younger and more casual space but sharing the decoration, the tables’s layout and service of “Foz Velha” whilst having a wider offer of delicacies divided by: Para Picar, Os Caldos, Dá Cá Um Bacalhau, Carne, Inovações, Por Encomenda, Que Lateirices, As frigideiras, O Tacho, Acompanhantes e O Que É Doce, Doce É!!
The intention is to provide light or full meals under the same service and environment, choosing from this fun yet wide menu, from snacks to more consistent dishes.
With the inclusion of many of the Portuguese and even Oporto’s recipes (pica pau, tripas à moda do Porto and Francesinha), the client has the possibility to pick not only what he likes the most but also the adequate quantities for his appetite. This also translates into the final price, which can be a nice surprise. Many wines of the broad wine list are served by the glass, at very reasonable prices.
Marco Gomes himself often comes to the table, checking customers’ satisfaction and gathering opinions in order to improve the service of this house which is his but that he likes to share with customers.
At this point I had already eaten the “pica-pau”, alheira (sausage), chouriça and fine bísaro pork ham, a great cheese selection, squid rings and a superb cured salmon.
The tomato and onion soups are delicious, served hot. The Braz’s Codfish was on point, just like the shrimp’s bread soup and the wine and garlic’s ribs rice.
The ragged eggs and the traditional Francesinha are really good, just like the wine and garlic’s pork tenderloin. The grilled veal’s chop and veal’s big chop, huge, grilled on point, excellent.
The fried rice is irresistible and the “tripas à moda do Porto” and the chickpeas with cow hand are quite serious stuff. Regarding desserts the highlight goes to the puff apple pie with green apple ice cream and to the homemade chocolate mousse with hazelnut.
I leave you with Chef Marco Gomes’ invitation to visit his “Casa do Marco”.
It’ll be worth it!