2014-11-05 / Restaurant of the Week

FAVELA BRAZILIAN CUISINE

Favela, named for peasant villages in Brazil, is a cozy, cool spot to enjoy the rich and diverse cuisine of Brazil. Located on 28th Avenue in

Astoria, Favela was opened seven years ago by wife and husband team Andreia and Jean. The warm, brick walls, tile floor and soft lighting created a relaxed mood and soft Brazilian music fills the air. There’s even live music on Friday and Saturday evenings from 8:30pm to 11:30pm when you can lose yourself in samba and bossa nova rhythms.

To further relax you, you need only imbibe one of two of the local drinks, such as the national drink called a caipirinha, pronounced KAI-pee- REEN-yah and made with cachaca liquor, fermented from sugar cane. Local beers such as Xingu and Devassa make good accompaniments to the good food here, as well as the fine wines from Argentina, Chile and Brazil too.

The friendly barman Artur mixed up our drinks and suggested we start with some traditional savory pies called salgados. Delicate pastry crusts came filled with bacalao (cod fish), mildly spiced beef, cheese, or chicken ($6.95). A platter of sautéed “Calabrese” thinly sliced sausage arrived, along with a side of yucca fries, as well as their famous beef jerky, Brazilian style, which was tender and juicy. The light and flavorful salads are laced with hearts of palm, cucumbers and tomatoes, while the soul warming soups are abundant with beef and broth. Even the menus are cleverly designed, mounted onto wooden cutting boards.

The churrasca chefs deliver the highest quality meat, fish, and seafood which Brazil is famous for. Diners nearby were presented with swords of meat from which the skilled waiter carved off slices of perfectly cooked sausages, skirt steak and pork tenderloin wrapped gratuitously in bacon for extra flavor. A special cut of meat called picanha is a top sirloin cooked to perfection and served with a salsa vinaigrette and farofa, ground casava meant to be sprinkled on the meat with the salsa. A fiery hot sauce called malagueta should be handled with care, but adds a significant kick to the meat as well. Favela’s signature dish, and the star of the show is called Costela Bam-Bam, which is a caveman-sized portion of beef ribs that have been slow cooked for over five hours, imparting such a rich and deep flavor and texture into the succulent meat which simply falls off the bone and into your mouth ($22.95). The accompanying rice and beans can’t be beat, or try the yucca fries. Frango or chicken, is also grilled on the churrasca, or prepared stroganoff style or parmigiano style with tomato sauce and melted mozzarella cheese. A national dish called feijoada is a hearty stew of black beans, Brazilian beef jerky, pork, bacon, sausage and ribs cooked for hours and served with collard greens, rice and farofa.

Fish lovers will enjoy the grilled, marinated salmon with fresh herbs, topped with a passion fruit reduction ($19.95). Shrimp dishes and fish stew made with herbs, onions, coconut milk and tomatoes are some of the other choices.

If you can breathe after all of that, please share a mouth-sweetening dessert, with kudos for their banana cake flambé topped with vanilla ice cream, caramel flan, passion fruit mousse, or coconut flan. The coffee is great too.

Favela is open seven days a week for lunch or dinner. There’s a reasonably priced “Preito Feito” or Fixed Price lunch special for just $9.95 that includes chicken, steak or pasta with rice and beans, served from noon until 5pm. Come for the great food and drinks, excellent service and a warm, friendly atmosphere that will make you want to return. Read the great reviews on social media too and don’t forget the live music on Friday and Saturday. Make your way to Favela Brazilian Cuisine soon. Obrigada!

33-18 28th Avenue  Astoria
718.545.8250

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