Wrapped in the aromatic embrace of Zona Sul Churrascaria’s smoldering barbecue pit, up to four friends gather over unending portions of Brazilian meats, rice, and vegetables. Diners pile thick slices of meat onto their plates as they gaze in wonder at the crackling sirloin steaks and pork sausages skewered on spits over the flames. Beef ribs line up in rows as foursomes hammer out xylophonic bossa nova songs with their forks, and chicken thighs strut to samba beats on palate dance floors. A bountiful salad bar complements the orchestra of sizzling proteins with rice, green vegetables, and whole onions painted to resemble soccer balls.
In parts of Brazil, families and friends come together during a centuries-old tradition called churrasco. At these festive barbecue-style gatherings, hosts cook enormous amounts of food, and guests eat until they're stuffed. Inspired by that tradition, Elaine Lima opened Brazil Grill with a similar vision in mind. Here, the grill runs all day, rolling out an assortment of juicy meats that includes pork loin, ribs, lamb, and top sirloin presented in a colorful buffet alongside vegetables and other Brazilian-style sides. It's a simple setup that makes guests feel as at home as they would at their own friend's barbecue.
Yolande Lacan grew up surrounded by great French cuisine. Her father, Noel, was a gourmet French chef. As a child, her family lived in an inn that featured a handful of restaurants—one that specialized in old-world French food and another that served sweet and savory crepes. When Lacan found that New Haven lacked an inviting corner bistro with good onion soup, escargot, and steak tartare, she took it upon herself in the fall of 2012 to open Yolande's Bistro and Creperie, which incorporates all of these staples of French cuisine.
Lacan and her cook Stephanie aim to create traditional French cuisine that is “not too fancy or intimidating,” such as frog legs Provençale and duck leg confit. In addition, Lacan folds imported cheeses and salmon into gluten-free buckwheat and oat-flour crepes, and chops champagne bottles open with a saber. Dinner and brunch feature plates that are a touch fancier than the average cafe, while lunch features casual French-inspired fare such as cracked-pepper burgers and bistro beef sandwiches.
Owner and Sao Paulo native Felipe Franco embraces the culinary traditions of his home country, telling the New Haven Independent in 2012 that "my interest is to show Americans Brazilian food and culture." His menu brims with the country's signature cuisine, including Brazil's peppery national stew of black beans and meat, as well as moqueca—a seafood stew of fish, shrimp, mussels, calamari, or kraken-gone-astray that simmers inside a handmade clay pot. To accompany these entrees, the bartenders deftly mix potent yet refreshing caipirinhas using cachaça, or sugar-cane rum, Brazil's favored spirit.
Chops Steak & Fish Grill—formerly Chuck's Steakhouse—dishes out fresh catches and premium cuts and chops in a gold-accented dining room. Plates of crisp vegetables from the salad bar temper robust strip steaks, top sirloin, filet mignon, and Delmonico steaks. Risotto, gnocchi, and other pastas embrace vegetables or morsels of lobster and scallops, and chefs' specials treat tablescapes to daily surprises dished out beneath gold picture frames and soft lighting. Chops also hosts special events in the banquet room with aged wood-paneled walls and enough hardwood tables to seat 120 people, exactly the number of people in a standard bridal party.
At iD Brazil Churrascaria and Restaurant, servers arrive at tables with giant skewers bearing perfectly grilled, aromatic meats. It’s called rodizio, a traditional style of serving cuisine at Brazilian restaurants. In this case, you can get your fill of more than a dozen meats, including pork loin, beef ribs, and Brazilian pork sausage. The South American steakhouse also offers a vast buffet, as well as traditional drinks, such as the Caipririnha, a blend of muddled limes, cachaca, and sugar.