Brazilian native Ivan Utrera came to the United States with a stack of family recipes and an idea for serving bottomless portions of rotisserie-grilled meats. That style of eating, similar to that in a churrascaria, has been popular in Brazil for many years. Rodizio Grill has since expanded to several locations, where servers armed with giant skewers of marinated pork loin and beef saturated in garlic travel around the dining room, carving off the meat tableside. The chefs also slow-cook on the grill and expertly season Brazilian sausages, lamb, chicken hearts, and pineapples. Much like a list of terrible babysitters, the selection of adventurous meats often includes rattlesnake, bison, and wild boar.
You'll never feel more like a Brazilian cowboy than the moment you take your seat at Copacabana Steakhouse. As you tuck in, fork and knife in hand, waiters pass by carrying 14 different styles of slow-roasted meat still sizzling on their skewers. Upon your signal, they shave portions of top sirloin, Brazilian sausage, leg of lamb, and barbecue chicken straight onto your plate. This meat parade, or rodizio, mimics the communal feasts of the 20th-century gauchos who settled in the grasslands of Southern Brazil with their massive herds of Carnival parade floats. As they eat, diners sip bold South American red wines that complement the flavors of the steak. For guests who aren't looking for an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord, the churrascaria also serves single portions of its meats paired with hearts of palm and fresh veggies from the salad bar.
Wielding knives and sword-like skewers, the servers at Texas de Brazil seem prepared for impromptu duels. However, they only brandish the blades to replenish dinner plates, slicing meat from their spears at the behest of each table. The cuts of steak, lamb, and brazilian sausage are all slow roasted over an open flame in traditional churrascaria fashion—a technique that stems from the campfire meals of Brazilian gauchos, and one that fed the family behind Texas de Brazil during their life in Porto Alegre. In an effort to bring the South American style to the States, they established their first restaurant in Texas, thereby merging down-home charm with Brazilian spice.
Today, Texas de Brazil has expanded to several award-winning locations across the country. Despite the lofty ceilings and chandeliers that characterize their venues, the staff remains rooted in ranchers' habits. They conscientiously grill and season their meat, bake brazilian cheese bread in-house, and pass classic cocktails and loaner saddles over the bar for cowboys who consider chairs unnatural. To complement savory bites, guests can browse more than 50 gourmet sides at the salad bar—a compendium of soups, vegetables, and appetizers such as imported cheeses. They can also ask the resident wine specialist for recommendations on suitable pairings from the cellar.
Two longtime residents, nurse Audrey Hochroth and her husband, contractor Sal Barone, grew weary of traversing the bridge to Manhattan whenever they wanted a good steak. So in 2009, they opened Augie’s Prime Cut—a local place their neighbors could go for delicious steak-house fare, such as slow-roasted prime rib, dry-aged porterhouse steaks cut by hand, and fresh lobster plucked from the tank, without driving to the city or kidnapping a steak-house chef. Audrey recently told the Examiner News that so many customers flock to Augie’s Prime Cut on the weekends that they had to open a new 18-table area upstairs—Augie's Loft—to avoid turning people away.
An Incan warrior gazes stoically at guests outside Inca & Gaucho Restaurant’s entrance. The life-size statue, resplendent in his red cape and gold crown, stands as the first indication of restaurateur Eduardo Campos’s mission to pay tribute to South American culture at his eatery. Chefs prepare Peruvian-style seafood such as ceviche, and serve fried calamari and shrimp atop heaps of yellow rice. They also grill Argentine meats such as black sausage and sweet breads, which have earned nods from the _New York Times. In addition to the Inca warrior stationed at the restaurant’s entrance, the dining room pops with traditional South American instruments interspersed with paintings and tapestries of the South American countryside.