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Watching the World Cup in Europe – On The Ave

Crab Cakes, stuffed mushrooms and favas followed by Sagres at Cotali Mar.

You would be excused if you thought you were in a corner of Europe sitting in the courtyard of Cotali Mar restaurant on Acushnet Avenue watching Portugal take on Iran during the World Cup.

The outdoor seating area out back of the restaurant is a gracious walled terrace within the city’s most relentlessly urban space. A fountain, an outdoor fireplace, tables, chairs and umbrellas are all arranged throughout the generous space in a way which allows you to appreciate al fresco dining.

On Monday, June 25, a 70-inch television was placed out on the terrace and Cotali Mar, normally closed on Monday, was host to about a dozen or so special guests to watch the World Cup match between Portugal and Iran.

Naturally, any occasion to cheer on Portugal is a cause for celebration along The Ave, which has benefits from the city’s huge Portuguese presence with an ample portion of restaurants like Cotali Mar serving cuisine from the old country.

The terrace of Cotali Mar.

So, it was an enthusiastic group that gathered to watch – especially evident when Ricardo Quaresma scored. There were moans when Cristiano Ronaldo missed a penalty kick, but the conversation before did conclude that the team needed to become less dependent on its star player. And besides, despite a late surge by the Iranians, Portugal still advances and faces Uruguay on Saturday, June 30 at 2:00 p.m.

Heading back to Cotali Mar to watch that match is on the agenda. Even though the restaurant was technically closed on Mondays, owner Carlos Madeira put out an impressive spread for guests – which included this wayward chronicler who mistakenly thought Cotali Mar was open for regular business. Nonetheless, he was welcomed to the table by the generous host instead of being handed a red card.

Grilled chicken, crab cakes, favas, whole crabs and more were brought out of the kitchen to the terrace with mouth-watering results as the match got underway. Needless to say, it was an appreciative bunch of World Cup spectators, who were also well-lubricated by Portugal’s signature beer, Sagres.

Sitting outside on a warm, sunny day full of Portuguese food and watching the World Cup, you almost felt as if you were in Portugal itself. It’s the pleasure of the city to possess a place like this on a street dubbed its International Marketplace – especially so when it’s a World Cup year like 2018.

Steven Froias