The layout of Rio Rodizio is telling: with a candlelit dining area in one section and a long bar lined with flat screens in another, it's as much a place to take a date for a romantic meal as it is a spot to grab a drink after work. In the dining room, gaucho chefs carve cuts of lamb, beef, and pork right at the table, forcing diners to clear plate space next to seared fish, homemade pastas, and sushi rolls drizzled in flavorful sauce. Like a home that's been decorated by robbing a furniture store in the dark, the cocktail menu is a fusion of tastes, its Asian and Brazilian proclivities represented by sangrias, tropical juices, and sake.
There’s no questioning Berimbau chef Carlos Inacio’s intimate connection to the cuisine of Brazil when you scan his menu, a focused collection of dishes rich with traditional ingredients such as calabresa sausage, yucca, and seafood. He hails from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, an area known for its “stellar cuisine,” according to New York magazine, which also lauded Berimbau as a “pioneer” among NYC Brazilian restaurants. Berimbau is far from a common rodízio steakhouse, although there’s no lack of pork or steak on the menu. But instead of all-you-can-eat feasts, patrons select elegant presentations of distinctive dishes, such as fraldinha, grilled skirt steak served with yucca purée, sautéed collard greens, and creamy hearts-of-palm sauce. Chef Carlos continues to position his homeland’s food in a fresh, colorful context through dishes such as risotto with asparagus, sautéed shrimp, and cilantro butter. Berimbau’s wine list has been curated with pairing in mind, and the white, sparkling, and red wines—categorized as either Old World or New World—add grace notes that perfectly emphasize the potpourri of Brazilian flavors. But the beverages of choice here are the caipirinhas—Brazilian cocktails that can be mixed with passionfruit, strawberry, coconut, mango, or lime.
In accordance with the customs of rodizio dining, this restaurant’s meat cutters carve up prime beef tableside and then pass it out on skewers. They also cart around a whole roasted pig, slicing off succulent morsels for diners to devour throughout the prix-fixe meal, which includes a first course at a buffet of Brazilian delicacies.
Vintage bicycle-themed artwork and patches of exposed brick add a certain cozy charm to Zebú Grill’s dining room, where the chefs serve everything from housemade Brazilian sausage to flan. Tropical ingredients accent most of the food and drinks—shrimp braises in coconut milk, wild salmon wears a coat of açaí sauce, and caipirinha cocktails made from Leblon cachaça muddle fresh lime and sugar.
Two of the eatery’s signature dishes include a churrasco platter with steak, chicken, sausage, rice, and beans, and Brazil’s national dish, feijoada: a black-bean stew with sausage, pork, and beef. For less-meaty dishes, the chefs also hollow out acorn squash, carve a hungry face into its surface, and fill it with seasonal veggies.
Just as the surrounding Theater District transports audiences to faraway places, Brazil Grill's dining room immerses guests in the rich culinary traditions of Brazil. Though it boasts a substantial selection of entrees, the eatery's specialty is radizio, a traditional Brazilian dining style where passadores, or meat servers, present diners with an endless rotation of skewered morsels. Patrons can nosh to their hearts' content on beef, pork, lamb, duck, and the other meats that continually appear tableside during the course of the night. To complement the authentic dishes, servers can also recommend options from the restaurant's selection of wines culled from Chile, Italy, and New Zealand. Most nights, guests eat as they absorb the sounds of live Brazilian music, the play-by-play of Brazilian League soccer matches, or napkins practicing their Portuguese accents.
Brazil Brazil Restaurant spirits diners away from the helter-skelter streets of New York City into a space rife with french doors, exposed brick, and blond hardwood. Its back patio—a white-trellised three-seasons room and kind of solarium—surrounds guests with lush flora and wrought-iron furniture that exudes the feeling of the tropics, with the scents of grilling seafood wafting over the secluded tables.
This spot is one of the best places to relax in the city, with the New York Times even lauding the patio as a “romantic retreat” and “an ideal place to escape the city’s rapid pace.” Chefs plate flavorful Brazilian dishes such as wine-marinated shrimp or pan-seared red snapper in mango sauce with sides of yucca and fried bananas. Late in the evenings, a Brazilian band starts serenading guests lounging in the bar’s cushy sofa chairs, creating a festive atmosphere. Located next to a host of Broadway theaters, the bistro is a great pre-show spot for on-the-go eaters.