Not a lot of ideas dreamed up on a first date come to fruition. But for Daniela and Brad, their first date in a Sao Paulo pizzeria grew into more than just a romance. With every successive date, their wouldn't-it-be-nice dream of opening a Brazilian-style pizzeria grew too shape. Not too long after, they decided to use the recipes handed down from their Italian ancestors to create their pizzeria, Fogo 2 Go.
In their cozy store-front?taken up by a main counter and an enormous brick oven?they bake crispy, Italian pizzas paired with unique Brazilian influences. Their pies come layered with everything from classic Italian sausages to more unique brie margherita and shrimp scampi toppings. True to the idea's Brazilian roots, they also cook up treats such as coxinha?an empanada filled with seasoned chicken and mashed potatoes?as well as desserts such as flan and Nutella & Banana pizza.
Aside from the Brazilian-Italian comestibles, Fogo's crown jewel is the brick-fired, charbroiled whole, half, or quarter chicken. Thanks to the intensity of the oven's heat and the incantations of the bistro's house shaman, the chicken quick-cooks, leaving a bacon-crisp skin and sealing in juices. What they never decided in their dream was the type of beverages to serve, so the pair let customers make that choice themselves with their BYOB policy. Fogo 2 Go even satisfies late-night hungers by staying open until 3 a.m. on Friday and Saturday nights.
Brazilian-born chef Jorgina Pereira relies on ingredients such as cassava root, collards, and coconut to infuse stews and stir-fries with tropical flavors at Sinh?. Pereira prepares her homeland's cuisine at home, welcoming guests into her historic brick townhouse for intimate meals in the mid-afternoon and private events in the evenings. In addition to doling out tropical comestibles at its brick-and-mortar location, the staff takes a custom catering menu on the road with Brazilian musicians, dressing for events in a Carmen Miranda-like uniform of flowing dresses and fruit-filled head dresses. Sinh? is a local favorite, and was even featured on ABC 7 Chicago News in a restaurant segment.
Inspired by the traditional eateries of southern Brazil, Al Primo Canto serves rotisserie-roasted meats and eats in a warm, inviting setting. Opt for a family-style meal of multiple courses ($30 per person), or select from an à la carte menu. Preheat your appetite with a classic Brazilian palate-tickler such as caponatto de beringela, a dish of roasted eggplant with tahini paste ($6). Then, move to a main course of veggie-friendly pasta such as homemade gnocchi caprese with tomato, basil, and fresh mozzarella ($13) or slow-roasted, mouth-watering meats made in Al Primo Canto's brick-lined charcoal rotisserie, a Brazilian import. Entrees from this alchemical producer of food-gold include the restaurant's signature galeto al primo canto, a young chicken marinated in white wine, fresh garlic, and sage, rotisserie-roasted over natural wood charcoal ($16). Silence any last hunger pangs with desserts such as the Romeo e Julieta, a tragically tasty warm guava cake with vanilla mascarpone sauce ($5).
Texas de Brazil blends the steak-centric cuisine of Texas with the traditional churrasco method of slow-roasting meat over an open flame grill to form a luscious meaty mélange. The full dinner ($39.99) marches out a cavalcade of choice cuts, allowing diners to welcome continuous windfalls of flavorful proteins. Brandish your table's provided card, green on one side, red on the other, and it will function as a meat traffic light that summons servers to either send stacks of seasoned beef, pork, or lamb skewers or halt plate traffic like a decorated culinary crossing guard. Or feel free to substitute greens for the grill by stepping into the sprawling salad-bar conga line ($24.99), two-stepping through toothsome goodies such as imported cheeses, steamed asparagus, and dozens of other hors d'oeuvres.
Rather than stay cooped up the kitchen, Brazzaz's gaucho chefs make forays into the dining area to carve portions of their 18 churrascaria-style, fire-roasted meats for guests. As customers lounge beneath geometric pendant lamps, they can take their pick of Brazilian bites, from succulent slices of tenderloin medallions wrapped in bacon to whole legs of lamb marinated in a secret blend of ingredients. In addition to devouring the all-you-can-eat meats, diners can pair their entrees with selections from the gourmet salad and sides bar, which stocks more than 60 items of seafood, imported cheese, cured meat, and fresh-cut vegetables. After dinner, sweet teeth sink into freshly crafted desserts, which may be purchased for an additional cost and run the gamut from Brazilian flan to chocolate mousse topped with homemade whipped cream. Throughout each feast, bartenders can help wash down bites by whipping up cocktails or pouring selections from a sommelier-selected, 150-item wine list, which focuses on vineyards in the Americas from California to the Little California districts in major cities.
With the same meticulous preparation used in Brazil since 1979, the chefs at Fogo de Chao expertly grill 15 cuts of meat that are sliced to-order tableside. They flavor New Zealand lamb with a mint marinade, wrap filet mignon in bacon, and massage baby back pork ribs with a special wet and dry rub before fire-cooking each slab. The restaurant’s gaucho chefs then cart the speared meats from table to table, stopping to slice tender pieces onto guests’ plates and challenge one another to fencing matches. As a result, Zagat rated both the food and the kitchen-to-table service at very good to excellent.