2009-08-12 / Restaurant of the Week

Brazilian Fare at...Copacabana

 
For eight years, Copacabana has been serving delicious home style Brazilian fare, complete with sizzling meats from the churrasca, entrées, lots of tempting side dishes and delicious pizza. Copacabana started as a pizzeria serving traditional pies and Brazilian style pizza, topped with hearts of palm, chicken, olives, sliced egg and onion. With the addition of the buffet next door, there is something for everyone at this restaurant and churrascaria.

Just at the entrance is the grill man who works the churrasca where delicious cuts of meat, chicken and sausage are laced onto long skewers and rotated constantly over the hottest fire. There is savory top sirloin called "picanha", sliced to order, as well as grilled turkey wrapped in bacon and the tastiest sausages you'll try, made with either pork or chicken. These sausages are neither greasy nor salty, and pack lots of flavor. The beef short ribs are slow cooked for hours on the giant, steel skewers, as are tender pieces of chicken and a Brazilian favorite, chicken hearts. Cooking on the churrasca brings out the best in these high quality meats and we can enjoy them at very reasonable prices. Just choose what you want and pay at the cashier.

 

 
Copacabana's hot and cold buffet offers dozens of choices of entrées and salads each day, reflecting the culinary diversity of Brazil. Owner Jose Bezerra runs a tight ship and makes sure that all dishes are made with quality ingredients and served hot and fresh. Indeed, with the amount of patrons, there's no chance that these delicious dishes hang around too long. Each day and night you'll find plenty of fish dishes, chicken, pork and beef, as well as fresh vegetables, potatoes and, of course, rice and beans. Sample whatever you'd like, such as beef stew ladled on a mound of savory rice. Fried fish fillets were crispy and golden, while the sautéed fish was juicy and flaky. On my recent visit, there was braised tongue in brown gravy which was juicy and tasty. Tender veal cutlets were on hand as well as "fejoada" a traditional dish made with lots of different meats and beans in a delicious sauce. Chicken and potato casserole is topped with melted cheese and goes nicely over the seasoned rice. I loved the crunchy French fries, but fresh vegetables such as steamed Swiss chard, broccoli and cauliflower or green beans are offered as well. Hearty pink and black beans have been cooked for hours and are meant to be spooned over fluffy white rice and topped with Brazilian corn meal. On the cold side, the salad bar is filled with fresh, crunchy green salad, house made salsa, which goes well with the meats, potato salad and beets. Brazilians and native New Yorkers alike can enjoy this hearty, soul-satisfying food at such reasonable prices.

 
The affordable prices at this "serve yourself" buffet make Copacabana a popular eatery. For the hot buffet and salad, pay just $4.99 per pound. Add the barbecued meat to that and pay just $5.49 per pound. You can even order assorted barbecued meats alone for $7.99 per pound, which dollar for dollar, costs less than buying the meat yourself and cooking it. Besides, you could never replicate the flavor from the rotisserie grill at home.

There are house made desserts like passion fruit mousse, which was delicately sweet and lighter than air, or creamy flan made of coconut or pineapple to end your meal on a tropical note. Ask Suelli at the cashier about the handmade pastries available.

Copacabana is open seven days a week from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm. Lunchtime is a great time to try their pizza or a juicy hamburger, Brazilian chicken sandwich, pasta dish or salad. For great pizza, Brazilian style barbecued meats and a full hot and cold buffet to eat in or take away visit Copacabana. Free pizza delivery is available and Copacabana is easy to reach by the N or W train 36th Avenue stop. Enjoy the flavors of Brazil at Copacabana.

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