2015-07-29 / Restaurant of the Week

COPACABANA

There’s a veritable food festa going on all day and night at Copacabana on 36th Avenue in Astoria.

The party can be found at the sizzling churrasca, or grill where (seemingly) several metric tons of high quality meat are skewered, salted, and spun on the rotating barbecue to render the juiciest, tastiest meats that keep the lines of patrons growing and moving down the tantalizing buffet.

As a matter of fact, while I was there on a recent weeknight, at least 50 people were served and either took it away or ate in the clean and comfortable dining room. This ‘serve yourself’ buffet is a great concept: take what you want, as much as you want, and pay a low price by the pound. The recipe works well because Copacabana has been around for 15 years and is always full. I even met two young gentlemen who come regularly from Manhattan to take in the delicious Brazilian style meals served here.

Start at Copacabana’s hot and cold buffet offering 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. With so many patrons, there’s no chance that these delicious dishes hang around and platters are constantly replenished to serve the hungry throngs. The staff is so friendly and conscientious, with special thanks to Marcello. 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. Fresh roast pork shoulder called pernil was on hand as well as beef brisket, roasted chicken, cod fish and mashed potato casserole, a traditional bean casserole and the national dish called feijoada made with different cuts of meats, sausage and beans in a heavenly sauce that’s ideal spooned over the fluffy white or brown rice that is a staple in Brazilian fare. The beans are fantastic too, especially when topped with corn meal. The crispy, fried fish fillets are great, accompanied by a helping of golden fries or sweet plantains and fresh vegetables including shredded kale salad dressed with olive oil and lemon. I can’t get enough of the cheesy bread puffs called pao de queijo. The bakery case in front has delicate croquetas filled with shrimp or codfish called bacalao.

On the cold side, the salad bar is filled with fresh, crunchy green salad, house made salsa, cole slaw and platters of fresh vegetables which go well with the meats. If you don’t eat meat at all, there are plenty of rice and vegetable options to choose among.

Work your way to the star attraction, the expert grill man, who works the churrasca where delicious cuts of meat, chicken, and sausage are laced onto long, steel skewers and rotate constantly over the super-hot fire. There is savory top sirloin called picanha, sliced to order, flank steak, skirt steak, and beef ribs as well as pork wrapped in bacon, spicy pork sausage and mild chicken sausage, as well as chicken legs and chicken hearts, which are a delicacy. 

Simply ask for your favorite meats cooked as you like them and the grill man will cut them to order in bite size pieces for you to enjoy along with all the side dishes and salads you’ve chosen.

Best of all, this bountiful buffet is very economical, making Copacabana a very popular eatery. For the hot

buffet and salad, pay just $5.99 per pound. Add the barbecued meat to that and pay just $7.49 per pound. You can even order assorted barbecued meats alone for $9.99 per pound, which is less than you’d pay if you bought the meat yourself, and you could never replicate the flavor from this professional grill. One more thing…it’s too hot to cook!

There are house made desserts to cool you off such as passion fruit mousse, creamy rice pudding, delicious corn pudding that I enjoyed, and Brazilian style flan. Carrot cake, chocolate cake and Brazilian pastries will sweeten your palate too.

Copacabana is open seven days a week from 11:00 am to 10:00 pm. They are conveniently located just steps from the N train’s 36th Avenue station. Come join the food festa at Copacabana!

31-13 36th Avenue • Long Island City, NY
718.545.3685

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