2011-09-07 / Restaurant of the Week

Villa Brazil Café Grill

The new Villa Brazil Café Grill is a larger, more comfortable version of its former self, just a few doors away. Villa Brazil Café has a roomy dining room with clean wood floors, russet red walls adorned with mirrors and artwork, and a tin ceiling. This self-service, buffet-style restaurant has plenty of tidy tables to dine at, and the place seems to always be buzzing with patrons, from morning till night, for the delicious Brazilian delicacies, homestyle cooking and, of course, that sizzling churrasca that produces some of the best meats around. Owner Deilson Teixeira and his wife do everything they can to ensure a great dining experience and the chefs surely comply.

Follow your nose to the rear of the restaurant where you’ll find the steam table that holds over a dozen delectable entrées and side dishes. A cold salad bar has even more for you to choose among and patrons are invited to choose their favorite meats and chicken from the barbecue. The variety changes every day and sometimes hour to hour to keep the steady customers pleased while offering the freshest dishes possible.

One of the chefs took me through the platters and pointed out succulent racks of barbecued ribs, glistening with tangy sauce. They were so tender, the meat just fell right off the bone. Tender cutlets of beef were prepared Milanese style with crispy breadcrumbs. Grilled chicken paillard are great with a side of savory rice and beans, and there are both red and black beans to choose among. Italo-Brazilian chicken rollatini is stuffed with fresh spinach and cheese, while everyone wants a scoop of the penne pasta. I was pleasantly surprised by tender crepes that looked like manicotti, filled with savory ground beef and mild spices. Chicken stroganoff is cooked with a creamy sauce and vegetables and goes well with a helping of steamed broccoli and carrots or sauteed kale with garlic. There are plenty of vegetable dishes too, so you’ll find all your favorites. The chef’s vegetable casserole has a light bechamel topping, and you’ll find their famous corn souffle too, or corn on the cob while it’s still in season. The fried yucca sticks resemble thick cut French fries but taste even better with their crunchy texture. Brazil’s diverse cuisine includes lots of fish too, and so fresh tilapia fillet is sautéed in lemony Francese sauce, or perhaps fried fillet of flounder will be on the menu. Best of all this incredible buffet costs only $4.99 per pound, to stay or to go.

The star of the show in Brazilian cuisine is the meat, prepared on rotating steel skewers until everything is crisp on the outside and juicy inside. For just $5.99 per pound, you can add any meats from the grill. My favorite is a tender filet of beef tenderloin that is sliced to order off the skewer, sprinkled with sea salt and then replaced for more slow- cooking. Beef short ribs fall off the bone and melt in your mouth as does the marinated skirt steak. A decadent treat is tender pork tenderloin wrapped in smoky bacon made crisp over the open flame. There are also sweet and flavorful barbecued sausages, in pork and chicken varieties and tender chicken legs and chicken hearts, a Brazilian delicacy. You can also order meat alone for just $6.99 per pound, a real bargain when you consider that all the work has been done for you. This is a great option for apartment dwellers who cannot barbecue themselves. Just take it home and dinner is made.

Visit the cool salad bar where you’ll find freshly tossed salads, marinated beets, grilled vegetables, Russian style potato salad and more. The homemade salsa goes well on the fabulous meats from the churassca too. Sweeten your palate with some fresh fruit.

An eye dazzling array of cakes and pastries is available, including moist and delicious chocolate layer cake, chocolate cake with coconut, tapioca cake, coconut cake, an assortment of fine pastries and light and creamy flan and coconut flan are also on hand, along with mango and papaya mousse.

Visit at lunchtime, the Villa Brazil Café Grill offers hefty sandwiches made on chewy rolls filled with sliced beef, pork and chicken. An array of homemade soups is available each day. You can even pick out a chicken croquette or empanada from their bakery section to enjoy as an appetizer or a light snack.

Celebrate Brazil’s Independence Day today, September 7, with a fabulous meal from this diverse, beautiful country. Everyone here is so friendly, not to mention beautiful! The food at Villa Brazil Café is meant to be shared and enjoyed, to eat in or to take home. Obrigada!

Villa Brazil Café Grill
43-16 34th Avenue  Astoria

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