Bifana Boys bring a taste of Portugal to Ontario
If you’ve been thinking about those night out snacks, or those legendary lunches, but want something new, look no further than the bifana. This sandwich is dripping with flavour, from the flakey buns to the perfectly grilled pork, all topped off with a mouthwatering array of sauces and veggies that are sure to leave you wanting more.
A classic sandwich, the Bifana is a Portugese fast food staple that is often enjoyed during a night out or for lunch. The sandwich itself contains seasoned pork strips covered in spices and white wine, between two crispy buns. Ontario-based chef Ricardo Cavaco modified tradition to create his own, renowned, Bifana Boys sandwich.
Cavaco is the founder and owner of Bifana Boys, a Portuguese fusion establishment based in London, Ontario. He aims to change the game when it comes to making bifanas with a unique new approach.
“We put our own house aioli on top”
Cavaco explains how the Bifana Boys recipe breaks away from the expectations of a traditional bifana to surprise the customer: “There’s so many different ways in Portugal, the way they do it. What we do is grill it, and then put our own house aioli on top, which is not typical in Portugal.” But the aioli is not the only exceptional thing about Bifana Boys’ sandwiches.
Cavaco aims to combine traditional recipes with innovative flavours, right down to the most base ingredients of the sandwich. “The way we caramelize our onions is also unique,” explained Cavaco. He mentioned that they cook the onions in their own brand sauce to ensure the original taste of Bifana boys exists throughout the sandwich.
According to Cavaco, people love his original take on the tried and true sandwich. “We’ve even had people who had gone there (to Portugal) and been disappointed because they haven’t been able to find one similar to ours.”
“A little taste of home with a twist…”
Describing the proper ingredients is important for any recipe. Cavaco shares his tips to make the sandwich, and what makes the Bifana Boys sandwich so special.
“To me, it’s basically about having a really good cut of pork,” said Cavaco. He said that Bifana Boys uses pork loin, but also explains that the shoulder is more readily available price wise. “A really good fresh bun, and the toppings of course, the veggies, just make it really really good.”
But of course the flavours that accompany the ingredients are just as important. “I like the flavour of white wine, garlic, bay leaves, pimento, and the pepper sauce that we make… it’s like a little taste of home with a twist.”
Cavaco described the idea of Portugese fusion through the use of flavour. He says the concept of starting with a Portugese base and then adding flavours from Asia, or other specific european countries like France or Greece, is important to defining the Bifana Boys sandwich because it makes it unique.
Savoury … and sweet
In addition to the sandwiches, Bifana Boys also offers another traditional Portugese treat: homemade custard tarts!
“They’re Portugese custard tarts, they were made famous by the monks in Portugal a long time ago,” said Cavaco pointing to the many tarts that he prepared that day. “We make our own custard tarts from scratch, everythings from scratch, the dough is hand rolled, there are no fillers, y’know.”
Overall, Bifana Boys commitment to tradition while simultaneously pushing new boundaries is sure to leave you with the experience of true Portuguese cuisine with some twists to talk about!
Lead photo by Alieska Robles Photography; tart and sauce photos by Jacob Greenwood.