2012-01-04 / Restaurant of the Week

COPACABANA

Warm up your winter with a hearty meal at Copacabana Brazilian churrascaria and pizzeria in Astoria. With an array of food as diverse as Brazil itself, Jose Bezerra’s restaurant has folks coming and going non-stop for the hot and cold buffets and delicious meats off the sizzling churrasca seven days a week.

Look for the green awnings on 36th Avenue near 31st Street and choose a table in the coral colored dining room with vibrant murals, or take your meal to go. Copacabana’s hot and cold buffet offers dozens of choices of entrees and salads each day, reflecting the culinary diversity of Brazil. There’s something for everyone at Copacabana with plenty of fish dishes, chicken, pork and beef, as well as fresh vegetables, potatoes and, of course, rice and beans. Trays of fresh entrees and sides are replenished constantly to feed the hungry throngs of guests. Platters of roasted chicken, sliced roast beef and gravy and mashed potatoes were hard to resist. Baked, fried or sautéed fresh fish are always on hand, as well as crispy French fries, cauliflower, my favorite kale salad and more. Scoop up the fluffy white rice or yellow, seasoned rice and spoon on the best beans ever. Both pink beans and black beans are made each day and make every meal complete. They’re so good, some people come in for rice and beans alone!

On the cool side, the salad buffet is filled with fresh, crunchy green salad, potato salad, three-bean salad, beets and tomato salsa, Russian salad with diced carrots and peas and several choices of dressing. Best of all, the hot and cold buffets cost just $5.49 per pound. Add a meat entrée and it’s just $5.99 per pound. Add some barbecued meats from the churrasca and the price is just $6.49 per pound.

As soon as you walk in, you’ll see and smell the tantalizing aromas from the churrasca grill. The grill chef artfully tends to the long steel skewers holding delicious cuts of meat, chicken and sausage that rotate over the hot flames. There is savory top sirloin called “picanha”, sliced to order, as well as grilled loin of pork and the tastiest sausages you’ll try, made with either pork or chicken. The beef short ribs are slow cooked for hours so the meat renders easily from the bone. Turkey wrapped in bacon and juicy chicken thighs are popular. Chicken hearts are a specialty in Brazil and you ought to try a couple here. After each portion is sliced, the meat gets a sprinkle of sea salt and is returned to the flames, which impart exceptional flavor and juiciness. You can also just order the grilled meat to eat in or take home at just $7.99/lb. At these prices, it doesn’t pay to cook it yourself and you’d never be able to replicate the unique flavor.

Finish your meal with some house made desserts such as light and fluffy passion fruit mousse, cool and creamy flan, rice pudding, “cocada” coconut pastries or chocolate treats called “brigadero”. You’ll love the Brazilian fruit drinks and sodas too.

Copacabana is open seven days a week from 11:30 am to 10:00 pm. The adjoining pizzeria has Italian and Brazilian style pizzas, topped with hearts of palm, pineapple and ham. They make juicy burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and more. Stop in on your way down from the “N” train on your way home from work for a delicious, hot meal. Choose all your favorites and discover some new ones at Copacabana. 31-13 36th Avenue  Long Island City, NY

718.545.3685

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