By Valerie Franchi, Contributing Writer
Hudson – Executive Chef Albert Sousa said his restaurant was “an afterthought.” But the Riverview Restaurant at the Hudson Portuguese Club has proven to be a much-appreciated part of the facility, attracting both members and nonmembers for its worldly rustic cuisine and friendly family atmosphere.
Much of the success can be attributed to Sousa, who mastered his trade while traveling abroad in Italy, the Azores and Portugal, working in local kitchens.
“I never went to culinary school,” he said.
Riverview was intended as an outlet only for members, for informal dinners and catering larger events. But “cooking for them became an everyday event,” Sousa said, and the club decided to make it a full-service restaurant and open it to the public.
Sousa donated his time cooking at the restaurant before becoming its executive chef in February.
His menu incorporates Italian, Spanish, American and, of course, traditional Portuguese cuisine.
“My inspiration comes from a lot of different places and what is available to work with,” Sousa said.
The menu changes every couple of months to use seasonal ingredients and specials are added daily.
“I like to keep it fresh,” he noted.
Appetizers such as flaming chourico are served alongside traditional fare like Buffalo wings and mozzarella sticks.
Entrees include a varied selection of seafood, steak and poultry dishes. Traditional Portuguese dishes include bitoque, beef cortador and bife a Portuguesa – hand-cut seasoned steaks all topped with an egg.
One of Riverview’s best sellers, according to Sousa, is the polvo Acoreano, octopus stewed in a red wine and potato broth for at least four hours.
The quality of the food and the affordable prices keep customers coming back. Entrees range from $8.99 for spaghetti and meatballs to $29.95 for “Tour of Portugal,” a choice of any three entrée items on the menu.
In addition, Riverview does a busy takeout business and hosts weekly karaoke nights, live entertainment and special events.
For Sousa, working at the restaurant is like coming home. He grew up in Hudson and “used to come to the club as a kid for the festivals,” he recalled.
Through Riverview, he hopes to bring some of the European culture back to his hometown.
“In Europe, I learned that food brings people together,” he said. “That mentality has been lost a little bit here in America. I am trying to bring that back.”
The décor also adds a European atmosphere, with hand-painted murals of stone arches, island cliffs, and a blue-green seascape in the dining area. The adjacent open lounge is decorated with a granite bar and cocktail tables overlooking the outdoor pavilion and the Assabet River.
In addition to the Riverview restaurant and pavilion, the Portuguese Club has function rooms to accommodate up to 600 guests, with full catering capability.
Riverview is located at 13 Port St., Hudson. Hours are Tuesday from 4:30 to 9 p.m.; Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Thursday-Saturday, 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; and Sunday, 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m.
For more information, visit www.riverviewhpc.com. For reservations, call 978-567-1929.