It is in the most emblematic neighborhood of Aveiro, long nicknamed 'Vila Nova', that we immerse in the history of Snack Bar Picota and in experiences of the past. It all started with the Vareiro tavern, more precisely in the old Rua do Vento, today Rua Dr. António Christo - a homage obtained, not without struggle with the municipality, by the people of the land to the illustrious personality who defended tenaciously the interests of those people who work the salinas (Marnotos), fishermen and the salty region itself. Gone are the times when, at dusk, the old marnotos, young men, fishermen and washerwomen of all ages, encouraged the taverns of this street to escape a day of struggle and tiring, especially the tavern of 'Ti António Vareiro '. In this typical neighborhood, nobody knows anyone by name, but by nickname. So, António Libânio da Silva, from Ovar, could not escape this fate.
'O Vareiro', settled down in Aveiro in the middle of the 30's, after having ventured to explore the Americas, since deciding to go to Brazil for assault with his tender 8-year-old. With is wife much younger than him and with a small child, he rented the house at number 21 and 23, as well as the commercial establishment that was on the ground floor. Fruit of the experiences that had lived beyond the sea, he turned it into the tavern and the busiest grocery store of Rua do Vento. The bizarre mixture of odors that made itself felt when entering the store, let us guess the sale of some of everything such as the wine served from barrel, the dried codfish, potatoes, olive oil, oil, blue soap ...
The couple were very dear in this neighborhood, whether it was for the strength and vision of Antonio's business or the humanitarian nature of his young wife who fed the poor and made dinner for the legionaries.
Well, more than half a century past, it is from another couple no less dear in Beira-Mar neighbourhood that we will tell this story - Armanda Gomes Martins and António Ramalho.
Armanda, from Mortágua, went to study for Viseu at the age of 11, staying in her cousins' house. But soon she saw that school was not for her. She missed home, knew no one but her cousins, and wept in every corner. She only studied for a year, because she wanted to start working. And at age 13 she did so, being first waitress and then Cacimbo's kitchen helper- the cousins' restaurant that still exists, on Alexandre Herculano Street, in Viseu. After 3 years of being there, the cousins called her and said to her: 'from tomorrow you take your kitchen bill, the cook goes on vacation' - Armanda cried all night fearing the burden of responsibility - was thus challenged to take control of the kitchen to replace him. After 15 days things went so well that they said, 'You're going to stay 15 more, and the cook completes the month of vacation.' She fulfilled the task so well that her dream became closer: to have a kitchen, a business of her own.
Her brother got work for her in 1987 - she was 18 years old- in the restaurant Mercantel, in Aveiro, because the founders of that restaurant were from the village of Armanda. Also in the restaurant Mercantel- whooping of Aveiro in terms of seafood- Armanda was part of the kitchen team that had 4 people. When management changed, Armanda became responsible for the kitchen.
In the Mercantel she met Antonio Ramalho, whom she fell in love with.
Antonio, now 59, first served as a clerk in the automotive business, selling parts at the Justino Stand. Then, approximately for 3 years, at the age of 28, was shipped, 1st on our coast to catch the clamshell, then the cod and swordfish. The Mercantel followed (where his specialty was to cook seafood), but here he worked not for long. The sister of Picota's owner, Lurdes Cavaco, was a client of the Mercantel, and when Antonio left, she spoke to him about the vacancy that his brother had to fill. There he was hired to the Picota, taking care of the table counter and the barbecue, where until today he is master. It passed from the sea to the earth without blinking. António from the parish of Glória, is the right and left arm of Armanda who is the owner of the business, helping her to make decisions.
In the late 80's, the old Tasca do Vareiro was acquired by two members. One from Sever do Vouga and the other from Oliveira de Frades, who founded the Snack Bar Picota and decided to give this name to the house because on their lands they used the picota (shadoof) for the extraction of water, symbolizing life and business success. On July 3, 1990, Armanda replaced the previous management, only with 20 years of age.
Since Armanda Martins took over the helm of the business several were the changes to the space. The whole kitchen was remodeled to stainless steel and the counter was cleared by opening the space for more tables in the restaurant.
The business reflects a crucial value to Armanda since always - family. They say that Christmas is when Man wants, well, for the family of Armanda, every Monday is Christmas. On this day, when the restaurant closes doors for the well-deserved weekly rest, Armanda and her husband travel to her native land, Mortágua, to rediscover the whole family that is dispersed in different places, but that religiously joins to live and work the land. For Armanda there is nothing more revitalizing and relaxing than putting your hand on the land that saw her rise. She gets up at 6 o'clock in the morning and goes to work in the fields. Here she refresh the oxygen for the weekly bustle she finds in the snack bar. From Mortágua she brings in the bag the potato, the beans and cabbage used for the confection of meals in the restaurant and at home.
The son of the couple, «Paulinho», who is now 22 years old, is well known to people in the neighborhood. Since childhood accompanying his parents in the snack bar, he continues to help them at weekends - in the pauses of the course of Mechanical Engineering- with the calm and affection that characterizes him.
This is a snack bar serving the most typical of Portuguese food. The menu varies, but fixed dishes are kept throughout the week, is the case of grilled food and pork roes. On Tuesdays they serve bean stew from Trás dos Montes, on Wednesdays creamy cod, on Thursdays portuguese stew, on Fridays meat pie and cod with chickpeas, on Saturdays «Bacalhau à Brás» and roasted pork loin or roasted veal, on Sundays the roasted lamb and the famous fillets of octopus with the juicy rice of cockles.
The house is open from Tuesday to Sunday from 7:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m. in the morning.
People say that places need a name and whoever names them, they need people. But people also need a place, to be and to be in ... at Snack Bar Picota we can find this place!