A ladle of … Portugal at the Casa Nata in Düsseldorf

New trends are constantly shaking up the industry – we track them down. In our series ‘A ladle of...’ we periodically present exciting projects and personalities from the food and gastronomy scene. André and Marta Piller from Casa Nata explain how a Portuguese café developed from a distant longing for specialities.

MPULSE Series - A ladle
Pastries by Casa Nata

What's it all about?

  • The idea for Café Casa Nata
  • Pastéis de Nata
  • Challenges to opening the café
Andre and Marta at Casa Nata

André and Marta, in April 2022 you opened the Café Casa Nata offering Portuguese bakery products in Düsseldorf – where did the idea come from?

André: My wife is Portuguese, and we usually spend our holidays in her homeland. Back in Germany, we always missed the Portuguese bakery products, especially Pastéis de Nata. Up to now, they were only available in Düsseldorf as frozen products. Although there are lots of Portuguese restaurants, there were no Portuguese bakeries. So we thought, why not bring Portuguese bakery products to the people of Düsseldorf?
Marta: Our café is in Unterrath, very close to Düsseldorf airport. Many of our customers come directly from their holiday in Portugal to stock up on our specialities to take home. This includes not only our bakery products but also Portuguese wines, liqueurs, beers, tomato jam and tinned sardines.

 

The Pastel de Nata is probably the best-known and most popular speciality among Portuguese desserts – what makes it so special?

Marta: Pastéis de Nata are handmade puff pastry tarts with a creamy custard filling. They have a long tradition in Portugal and are easy to eat with your fingers – at any time of day. But the special thing about ours is that we have more than just the traditional Pastéis de Nata; we also offer variants with different toppings, for example with chocolate, walnuts, flageolet beans and almonds, pumpkin-fig or apple-cinnamon. My husband is a trained chef so he loves trying out new combinations.
André: In spring and summer, we offer Pastéis de Nata garnished with strawberries, blueberries or plums, perhaps with a scoop of ice cream. This year, I’m also trying out a variant with white asparagus. For Halloween, we had a Nata with fresh chilli and caramelised honey, and for Christmas, one with gingerbread pastry shapes.

 

What was your greatest challenge when opening the café?

André: We opened Café Casa Nata at the start of the conflict in Ukraine. At the time, some of the ingredients we needed for our specialities were in short supply. But this was quickly rectified. Back then, we were also running the Café Grüngold in Düsseldorf-Flingern Süd. To start with, we were keeping our options open with the two shops, working mornings in one and evenings in the other. But it was too much. In the end, we had to choose just one shop. In the long term, the new concept simply worked better, also because of the great location. We have a lovely terrace so our guests can also enjoy their Pastéis outdoors.
Marta: We were lucky that the response was so good. We have lots of returning customers from Düsseldorf, as well as from Duisburg, Cologne and the surrounding areas. Many of them found out about us via Instagram and Facebook. They want to try Pastéis de Nata and have a taste of that holiday feeling. That’s because they not only get a delicious pastry but can also switch off for a moment from their everyday lives.

 

Portuguese Bolo Rei

Another traditional Portuguese treat: Bolo Rei is a ring of leavened sweet bread sprinkled with candied fruit, nuts and sometimes chocolate and sugar. Click here to see the recipe.

Read more

Further articles