Perfect for rice and fish dishes

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by Praskipark on January 10, 2013

Rio Formosa is situated on Av. 5 de Outubro in Olhão, the main strip overlooking the waterfront. The restaurant is large and welcoming with a friendly patron who is very helpful and likes to talk about the food served in his restaurant. He will advise on portion sizes and tell you about the house specials which change daily.

The atmosphere in the restaurant is more café like and very relaxed. We visited in the early evening, the restaurant was quiet when we arrived but it soon filled up with Portuguese families and groups of friends who seemed pleased to see each other and were looking forward to their dining experience.

Décor is pleasant enough, more functional than artistic, ordinary tables covered in white paper tablecloths and straight forward white plates and bowls.

On this particular evening we dined with two friends who wanted to try out a cataplana. They both had large appetites so I suggested they ordered one for 4. I thought this would be enough food if they had a bowl of rice to accompany it. They took my advice. My husband and I chose different dishes, I went with the eel stew and my husband chose the monkfish special. We all decided to drink beer on this occasion rather than wine so we chose 4 large glasses of beer from the pump. We could have had bottled beer but draught beer has more flavour.

After a wait of about 15 minutes the cataplana dish came to the table first, it was of the copper variety. Before the waiter placed the dish on the table he put a thick, circular mat made from cork down and then placed the piping hot cataplana dish on top. I noticed that the dish wasn’t quite filled to the brim like it should be but the ingredients inside looked colourful and interesting. Our friends ordered rice but they could have ordered homemade thick chips.

My meal came next, eel stew followed by my husband’s monkfish special. I know eel isn’t on everyone’s top ten fish list but I like the meaty taste of it and here in the Algarve, chefs know how to make a good stew. This one was quite thick in texture with potatoes, bread, tomatoes, onion and garlic all doing their own thing, fusing together with chunky pieces of eel to create a nourishing and tasty stew. It was delicious and I liked the added taste of oregano and fresh coriander. The eel was tender too which is great as it isn’t very nice if it is tough.

My husband’s monkfish special was a stew also with the rice mixed in with the fish. The aroma from the terracotta serving dish was wonderful and lots of flavours hit my nostrils at the same time. I could smell plump tomatoes, garlic, sweet red peppers and paprika. The colour of the stew was a cross between orange and red and I could see several pink prawns sat on the top with chunks of white monkfish underneath. My husband tucked into his meal straight away and after he had eaten a few forkfuls, I asked if I could try some. The dish was hot and I liked the way the flavours blended together although I thought there was a bit too much garlic in the stew for my taste. The piece of monkfish I tasted was soft and fleshy, a good sign. It tasted good.

As for the house cataplana my two friends were impressed with their preferred meal and ate it all. They both said that the white wine added to the ingredients gave the fish stew, which is basically what it is, cooked in a special utensil, an extra kick. They loved the chourico and sea bass. Prawns and mussels were cooked well and they enjoyed the overall consistency formed by the tomatoes, pepper, onion and garlic. They did have a little complaint and that was about the rice, they would have liked more!

Overall, we were all satisfied with our food and I recommend this restaurant if ever you are passing through Olhão. My advice is try to arrive early evening as the place does fill up with locals or book in advance. Meal prices are very cheap starting from 15 Euros per person including a glass of beer or wine.

The restaurant is open every day except Wednesday. Hours of opening are: 12.30-15.00 and from 17.00 until 23.00 hours.

There are parking facilities near to the restaurant.

Credit cards and ATM cards are accepted.

Address: Av. 5 de Outubro, Olhão
Restaurante Ria Formosa
Avenida 5 De Outubro 15-16
Olhão, Portugal
289 702 504

© LP 2000-2009