Valenca Restaurant

665 Monroe Ave
Elizabeth, NJ 07201

(908) 354-4024

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I had a very enjoyable time at this restaurant.  I am often in Elizabeth NJ and for those of you that are too, well then you know, it can be a little scary in some places.  Fear not my friends, this is one of the nicer places I have been to in Elizabeth.  It has a private parking lot, the waitstaff wears vests and ties, the room is clean, it has that new Portuguese Construction look to it. Lots of stone and that outside metal work, it’s a nice place.

In addition to the restaurant, there is also a space for large private parties and a bar with separate entrance and menu.  Menu is still cooked in the same kitchen as the restaurant but, one can assume they have sandwiches in addition to the complete restaurant menu.

For those of you who have been to Iron Bound Section or know about NJ Spanish/Portuguese restaurants, than you know the formula.  Every entree is huge, it is accompanied with yellow rice and fried potato chips, there is lots of garlic, lots of sangria, and lots of food to take home.. It’s kind of like the Spanish version of a Red Sauce Italian place.   I have been to Spain many times and have never had a meal similar to anything served at these places.   Which doesn’t mean that the food is bad, I am just saying, you are going for the portions, the wine and the experience.  Even at the best of these places, it’s not going to be a mind blowing event.

A normal order for me at these places is, you eat the free salad and bread, you order garlic shrimp, either baked clams or chorizo and then you either get the garlic chicken or the marisco verde.  Any variation from these dish normally get you a plate of dried out pork, or something not done too well.

This place has one thing that separates it from the usual formula. Large raw steaks were served on a cutting board that had a hot stone embedded in it. Diners would slice pieces of steak and place on the stone with lots of garlic butter that they provided.. It looked like a lot of fun.  It would fill the room with smoke and garlic. Everyone looked incredibly happy eating this.  I will try this the next time I go back.

Prices were very reasonable.  The marisco verde I split with my wife was 34 bucks I believe.. It came with a lobster, New Zealand Mussels (the green shelled) plump clams, bay scallops and shrimp.  Everything was cooked really close to perfect. (a wonderful surprise)

For dessert we had this really lovely ricotta ice cream with toasted almonds and honey. it was delicious.

The prices were really inexpensive. Appetizers that fed the table were 10 bucks. Dinners were like 18 bucks for most dishes

People here complain about the waitstaff, they did seem a little young, orders were not flying out of the kitchen. I asked the waiter what is this place like on a Saturday night, he looked at me and said “if you don’t like noise, crowds, or the circus, do not come”  I am assuming this place packs up like crazy.

So, within this genre of food, I was very happy with what we go.

Baked clams were pretty good, the flaming side Portuguese Chorico was a little dried out after being set afire at our table (I prefer my Portuguese Chorico to be served with pickles) and the mariscado verde is pretty darn good especially for the price.  Sangria was delicious as always.

Enjoy. I will be back.

Flaming Chorico

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Stuffed Clams:

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Seafood in Green Sauce:

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