On Columbia Road, a little north of Everett Square, is a haven for Dorchester's Cape Verdean community. Restaurant Laura is the kind of warm, clean place where neighbors drop in for a glass of port, a little bite, a little gossip, and a good time. They have live music.
My companion and I popped in on a cold night and were made welcome. The wine selection was extensive and inexpensive, perfectly paired to the menu. I had bacalau stew. My companion had a roast beef dish so tender she cut the meat with a spoon. Everything was bright and fresh and swimming in garlic-infused, Portuguese olive oil the color of near-equatorial sunshine. It was a welcome respite from the subarctic wind blowing off Dorchester Bay. It's not just the food that makes Restaurant Laura special.
They say Dorchester is home to the largest Cape Verdean community in Massachusetts. More Cape Verdeans live around Uphams Corner than in New Bedford, if you can believe that. Restaurant Laura caters to them and everyone else who wants to enjoy some of this island nation's unique culture. The spot has a lazy atmosphere. People linger over their dinners and the talk travels between tables, good-natured jokes, compliments, commentary, most of it spoken in Cape Verdean creole, a branch of the Portuguese mother tongue. The night we were there, there wasn't a lull in the atmosphere. Musicians were on stage serenading the patrons with ballads that made at least one diner think he wasn't in Dorchester but in Praia, the capitol of Cape Verde.