211 2nd St., Mineola
When Monica Oliveira and her family used to visit Portugal in the summer, she was intrigued by the waffles sold on the beach in her mother’s hometown of Costa Nova. She loved the big, thin waffles folded around a sweet filling, but could not figure out the name: bolacha Americana means “American cookie” in Portuguese but Oliveira had never seen anything like the waffle at home. (She later came to theorize that it was the massive, industrial waffle iron that must have originated in America, where the first waffle iron was patented in 1869.)
To Oliveira, 28, the waffle represented Portugal’s great culinary and cultural heritage — a heritage her parents never had the time to explore because they were so busy making a life for themselves and their children. And so, in October, she and her younger brother Andre and two cousins, Andrea and Amanda Alves, opened up a tiny waffle shop in Mineola, a block away from Winthrop Hospital, where all four were born.
Costa Nova makes both the crispy bolacha and the softer tripa. The waffles are a foot across and can be sampled plain ($3.50) or filled with chocolate, jam, Nutella, s’mores, peanut butter and jelly, Twix, Snickers or ovos moles, a sweet egg custard that is another specialty of the region. Fillings range from $4 to $5.50. Espresso drinks are made with Delta coffee from Portugal and, except for Coca-Cola, all the beverages — Luso water, Compal fruit nectars, Sumol soda — are imported from Portugal.
In fact, the trim little shop, decorated with paintings of Costa Nova and genuine azulejo (Portuguese ceramic tile), bursts with Portuguese pride and sells a small range of imported sea salt, chocolate, textiles, cookies and even cosmetics.