There’s no denying that we’re living exciting days concerning the new Portuguese gastronomy, new chefs with new techniques and audacity, stimulating restaurants, and specialized producers. However, every time I get excited and challenged by the boldness and creativity of these chefs, I also seek to balance that side with a simpler cuisine, authentic, and above all, based on the product.

In contrast to many other countries, like our neighbor Spain, for years, the Portuguese few or nothing worried about knowing and highlighting our produce, or about restaurants specialized in this or that. All this with the due exception for the famous Leitão à Bairrada (suckling pig) – many Portuguese families and friends know very well the National Road Nº1, crossing the town of Mealhada, and there have delighted themselves with one of the most famous national dishes!

It’s a mythical dish in the country and along with the wine, the greatest highlight of an entire region. However, there are different restaurants and different piglets, and there are also emblematic spaces outside the usual address.

One of those spaces is located in the small town of Fogueira, at Sangalhos, the restaurant Mugasa, open more than 40 years ago by Álvaro and Helena Nogueira, it became famous for the several dishes built around the suckling pig, and of course, the chanfana, one of the oldest dishes in the region. Nowadays, leading the stoves is Ricardo Nogueira, born and raised between the kitchen and the wood ovens, he’s now been improving the technique and the selection of the product, taking the best possible products to the table – a kind of Victor Arguinzoniz of suckling pigs.

But on to our meal, installed in the comfortable and recently renewed room, the choice was obvious and served at a good rhythm, starting with the always tasty bread of the region.

Suckling pig “Iscas”

For starters, we taste other parts of the piglet, like these iscas de cebolada. Delicate and less intense than the ones from its “heavier brother”. Great seasoning, although I must confess I rather prefer other textures of the liver, more undercooked, and a bit less dry in the mouth.

Suckling Pig “Cabidela”

Masterfully prepared, this fake cabidela (made without blood), deserves a trip to Mugasa just by itself! A combo of piglet offals, nicely stewed, finished in the wood oven, below the piglet, absorbing all the juices from the roast. Delicious!

Leitão à Bairrada

Several are its secrets, but not all hidden from those visiting Mugasa, first, the suckling pig – they only use the little ones, not over 4,2kg, and all raised in liberty in the fields, developing a better fusion of muscle and fat. And then, of course, the cooking, roasted in a specific type of wood, and with the care of those making this for a living. Last, but not least, the cut. Ricardo Nogueira’s technique is beautiful to watch (always a highlight to watch) and better to taste, with all the small pieces, and the amazing crispy skin. Everything is perfect, the taste, the texture, the greasiness, the juiciness!

Coconut pudding

Once the amazing Abade de Priscos pudding of Miguel Oliveira was already gone, we went for a nice coconut pudding, with two layers, balanced sweetness, of good texture and flavor. A nice surprise!

We also tasted the aletria, hard and dry as traditional in the area, leaving no memory to us used to a creamy and rich aletria.

The wine list is another reason to visit Mugasa, firstly for the quantity and variety of national sparkling wines, mostly from Bairrada, and secondly for the amazing price/quality ratio. Sinful for any oenophile!

In our case, we accompanied the meal with a sparkling Vinha Formal 2010 from Luís Pato.  A wine going through a beautiful tasting phase.

Final Remarks
Unfortunately, and for many years, the product cuisine in Portugal lost its place to cheaper and of fewer quality products, something very different to what happened in our neighbor Spain. Happily, with the conscientization of the guests, and the improvement in terms of our products, we’re starting to see a new direction, new chefs, new products and new guests, worried about the quality of what they’re eating more than the beauty of the presentation.

Well, this Mugasa is just that, one of our Product Temples; and Ricardo Nogueira is nowadays the face behind the future of this delicacy, and the passion he has for his work leaves no one indifferent. We need these examples to put our gastronomy on the map.

Suckling pigs? There are many, but Mugasa is unique!


Average price: 25€/ pax without wines 
Largo da Feira, Fogueira – Anadia
+351 234 741 061

Versão Portuguesa

Photos: Flavors & Senses

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