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.
A caravel—“caravela” in Portuguese—was a 15th-century ship used by the country’s explorers. The vessel’s small size made it easy to navigate along the coast of Africa and into the Atlantic Ocean. The ship not only gives Caravela its name, but also represents the eatery’s menu, a transatlantic meeting of Portuguese and Brazilian fare. The majority of the selection comes from the sea, too. Shrimp caravela, for one, has jumbo prawns swimming in a lemon-cognac butter sauce. The grilled swordfish is drizzled with a spicy baiana sauce derived from Brazilian cuisine. Of course, there are options for those not craving seafood: chefs fire pork chops, racks of lamb, and filets mignons. The staff serves all of this in a dining room with a nautical theme modeled after Captain Hook’s room at the retirement home.