2011-11-02 / Restaurant of the Week

Point Brazil Café, Grill, Buffet

Step out of the cold and into the warmth of Point Brazil Café, Grill and Buffet. Owner Ziza Ribeiro and her lovely sister have smiles as warm as the Brazilian sun and make everyone feel as if they’re in their kitchen. Indeed food moves from the kitchen to the buffet perpetually, so there’s always something hot and fresh on offer. In the short time I was there, I noticed at least six new dishes arriving or being replenished at this busy little place, which rests on a quiet corner at 31st Avenue and 38th Street in Astoria. The cozy dining room holds several neat tables surrounded by walls in shades of sunny yellow with Brazilian artwork. In warm weather, you’ll love eating outside at their bistro tables.

Brazilian cuisine is as varied as the country and its people. With roots in Europe, Africa, and in its own indigenous peoples, Brazil is one of the most culturally diverse countries on earth. The wide array of dishes on the hot and cold buffets reflects this diversity, and it’s all so delicious and fresh.

The sparkling clean, hot buffet table features over a dozen dishes which change daily to keep the steady clientele happy. Ziza tells me some of the house specials are always there such as flaky sea bass, baked with mild herbs or fillet of tilapia with coconut milk and cilantro. Tender beef with onions is another house favorite and, of course, you have to pile on lots of their irresistible rice and beans, either black or pink. While there is plenty of fluffy white rice, the crowd goes crazy for the brown rice with spinach, a super healthy choice that’s oh so good. You might find tender chicken breast sautéed with lemon and butter, chicken with spinach and mushrooms, beef stroganoff and more. The barbecued ribs are delicious with a side of creamy mashed potatoes or traditional Brazilian side dishes such as roasted sweet plantains, wedges of baked pumpkin, okra or fried yucca. From the Italian community in Brazil come eggplant lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, chicken Marsala and wonderful polenta. Homemade soups are made each day, with a rotation that includes lentil, vegetable, bean, and chicken noodle.

Next, on to the churrasca, where the expert grill man prepares an amazing variety of fine meat, poultry and pork. Tender hunks of top sirloin called “picanha”, entire skirt steaks, roast beef, short ribs, sausages, pork loin, chicken legs and more are laced onto long steel skewers and placed over the fire. Choose what you’d like and the expert barbecue chef will slice your meat to order and place it on your plate. The skirt steak and top sirloin just melt in your mouth and there are both pork sausages and chicken sausages to choose from. The short ribs of beef fall off the bone and everyone loves the juicy chicken legs.

The cold buffet offers over a dozen freshly made salads and fresh fruit to complement the juicy meats. One of my favorite side dishes is their collard greens, cut into a fine chiffonade and quickly sautéed in olive oil and garlic for a healthy dish. Eggplant salad and colorful pasta salad are there for the taking, alongside fresh beets, cole slaw, couscous salad, cucumbers and freshly chopped salsa. You’ll also find a selection of olives and cheese, as well as sliced fresh fruit such as pineapple and melons.

Help yourself to any of the delicious items on the hot and cold buffet tables for just $5.99 per pound. The buffet plus the meats from the churrasca costs just $6.99 per pound. Some choose to buy the meat alone, especially to take home, at $7.99 per pound.

Point Brazil opens for breakfast at 7:30 am and tempts you with scrambled eggs, breakfast sausages, fluffy omelets filled with cheese, ham, spinach, mushroom and more. Fresh breads, rolls and delicious coffee fill the air with their tantalizing aromas. There are even fresh squeezed juices to start your day, including orange, carrot and beet. The house made pastries are filled with fruit or cheese.

The display case in the dining room features many of their house made desserts, including cool, creamy flan, chocolate mousse cake, coconut cake, passion fruit mousse, chocolate mousse, and something called chocolate pave with coconut and cream that was out of this world.

For a taste of Brazil, with all its richness and diversity, visit Point Brazil for a dose of sunny hospitality, delicious food, and outrageous desserts. They’re open seven days a week from 7:30am to 10:00pm, cash only. Obrigada! POINT

BRAZIL 38-01 31st Avenue, Astoria, NY 11103 718 278-1934 www.pointbrazilrestaurant.com

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