THIS RESTAURANT HAS CLOSED
If the sign outside reads "Chop House," then you've arrived at the right restaurant - alternately known as TC Chop House, Tasca Convivio Chop House and, simply, Tasca Convivio.
Ambiguity ends at the doorstep; the flavors coming out of chef Kathryn Kane's Portuguese-New American kitchen are bold and clear. While Kane doesn't share the Portuguese heritage of co-owners Alberto and Georgina Martins, she cooks as though she does. And if some dishes sound unfamiliar, the eager young crew is knowledgeable and forthcoming.
That's some fine and fruity red sangria I'm drinking. It goes well with shrimp in a casserole set atop a dynamic combo of chopped pancetta, hot pepper and lemon butter over garlic toast, which soaks up all the piquant juices.
Grilled calamari are tender and well marinated; better still is the lemony octopus salad and delicate shredded salt cod salad.
A special of thick, juicy pork chops with bacon and apples excels. If the allure of grilled octopus escapes you, the sumptuous pulvo rustico with root vegetables and lemon aioli drizzle should open your eyes. Roupa velha - a casserole of shredded cod, vegetables and pancetta with cornbread topping - is all about home-style satisfaction.
From the lunch/quick bites bar menu comes the transporting Franceshina sandwich: roasted brisket, ham, spicy Portuguese sausage and cheese on grill-pressed multigrain bread crowned with a sunny-side-up egg and a spiced, beer-based, cream-enriched demiglacé known as "drunken" sauce.
Kane's crisp house-made waffle fries make a worthy accompaniment.
My favorite dessert is a wine-poached pear with freshly whipped cream. But don't overlook the flan or the "Romeu e Julieta," Edam cheese layered with quince marmalade and drizzled with honey and lime.
Pork scallopini with Madeira sauce seems humdrum while the "Alantejana" (pork and cockle clam) casserole is marred by overcooked meat. There's also a surfeit of oily sauce on the near-perfect grilled octopus plate.
The bargain-priced bar/lunch menu stars hearty sandwiches and vibrant salads.