By Sylvan Hardy
The story of Oporto Pasteleria, Panaderia & Cafeteria is really the story of its owner, Marta da Silva.
The bakery is the namesake of da Silva’s hometown, Oporto, Portugal, and mixes the baking tastes and styles of her native country, with her culinary school training in New York, where her family moved when she was 13.
Just as important, Marta says, it incorporates the tastes and styles of Cuenca. “There were a lot of adjustments I had to make from what I had learned in New York,” she says. “This is not New York, and after I listened to the people of Cuenca, learned about the local food culture and the kinds of baked goods they like, I adjusted my original concept.”
In the U.S., da Silva originally thought she would have a career in accounting. “I spent years studying for that, years in front of a computer thinking that would be my future, but then I changed my mind,” she says. “I had always enjoyed baking and decided to pursue that interest.”
During her culinary training, daSilva worked at the prestigious Bouchon Bakery and Restaurant in Manhattan, founded by master chef and baker Thomas Keller. “The hours were long and work was hard but it taught me the trade,” says da Silva.
While she was in New York, da Silva married Cuencano Philip Ochoa, who, like her, had moved to the U.S. as a child. Today, Ochoa serves as da Silva’s right hand at Oporto.
“Even though he is from Cuenca, he had been gone for so long he had to learn what people in Cuenca like too, just like me,” she says.
With two young children in tow, the couple moved to Cuenca in 2011 and opened Oporto a few months later. “We decided we didn’t want to raise our children in New York and it was natural for me to go into the bakery business,” she says.
Da Silva concentrated on custom-made cakes when she opened her shop on Jose Peralta 3-48 and Av. de el Estadio, around the corner from the El Vergel Supermaxi. “No one else in Cuenca was doing it, so we made cakes in the shapes and decorations that customers wanted.”
During the first few months, da Silva learned what breads and pastries the locals liked and didn’t like. “We were baking for Cuenanos, not New Yorkers, so we made changes in what we offered,” she says. She also saw the need for a small dining area at Oporto, which she added two years ago. “We realized that our customers wanted a quiet, comfortable place where they could enjoy coffee and pastries,” she says. Today, the dining area also offers light and full breakfasts, and sandwiches for lunch, including over-sized ham and cheese, Italian, a house special, tuna, and a smoked turkey bacon panini.
Breads and pastries are still Oporto’s mainstay, and da Silva changes her offerings frequently, although the popular items, especially the breads, are available daily.
Oporto sells 27 types of bread, both standard and sweet, including onion bread, cinnamon rolls, corn bread, ham and cheese bread, wholegrain bread, chocolate bread, and bread with berry jam.
The list of pastries, cakes and creams, many of them beautifully decorated, is long and impressive. Among them are passion fruit mousse, peanut butter cheesecake, strawberry
cheesecake, brownies, passion fruit tart, lemon tart, double chocolate mousse, coconut rocher (gluten free), chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, chocolate/passion fruit cake, Brasilian flan, peach/walnut cake, chocolate/nutella cake, and carrot/cream cheese cake (and many more).
In addition to the Jose Peralta bakery, Oporto has recently opened a second location on Av. Ordoñez Lasso in Edificio Riverview, just east of Hotel Oro Verde.
Oporto Pasteleria, Panaderia & Cafeteria, Main bakery and cafeteria, Jose Peralta 3-48 at Av. del Estadio (across from SUPERCOM); Second location, Calle Los Cedros at Ordoñez Lasso in Edificio River View (next to the Cruz Azul pharmacy); Tel. 410 3878, 099 557 1318 and 099 555 3252; e-mail: email@example.com. Click here to see a map and more info.