75 North Street Suite 110 - Central Block Building
(entrance on McKay Street)
Very few restaurants are open in The Berkshires seven days a week, but this new specialty food emporium has both lunch and dinner hours on whichever day you choose to eat out. As is obvious from the name, the food is Brazillian in style and nature; the service is classic Rio de Janeiro. The menu varies from day to day, so be aware that something you enjoyed for lunch on Monday may not be available on Saturday night.
There are some staples: white rice, a yellow/vegetable rice, beans, salsa, salad greens. Beyond that the options are plentiful and intriguing. As a veteran of Brazillian restaurants in New York City, having this cuisine readily available in Pittsfield was an exciting prospect. The reality falls just short of what memory led me to expect, but there’s nothing wrong with the final product. It is perfectly acceptable for New England palates.
First - the style. The restaurant is plain and open with a counter, small tables, long tables and a few booths. The decoration is spartan and almost cafeteria-like and this is quite in keeping with family dining joints in Rio. You pick up your own plate and silverware, then head for the steam tables where you can decide on your side dishes, and the occasional meat dish, before ending up at the carving station where the chefs will carve beef, pork, chicken, ribs, and other barbecued and grilled delicacies for you, as much or as little as you’d like. Then your plate is weighed and the price is written down on a bill. At the end of your meal the tab is totalled and you pay for what you picked. A typical plate with vegetable rice, beans, two slices of beef, a bit of pork and onions and small portion of chicken hearts, with a salsa and sausage combo came to $7.53. That is the most expensive plate of food I’ve purchased at one time in Brazillian. Normally, the bill-of-fare has been just under $6.
There is a relatively full bar available along with Brazillian wine and beer specialties. The red Brazillian wine is sweet, syrupy, and a nice combination with the delicately spiced meats. Brahma is the beer of choice, a light, sparkling drink that is refreshing and, again, a good accompaniment to the food, especially the beans and sausage. For dessert, try their flan. Not like those small, cup-shaped custards you’re used to in Mexican and Spanish restaurants, these are heady slices of heavier custard with a dark, rich caramelized sugar sauce. If you don’t have too much food on your plate, the dessert is a must-have option.
On Sunday the steam table possibilities include a lasagna made with shredded chicken which is very nice, but a bit too filling.The Feijao tropeiro, a beans, flour, bacon, sausage and onion combination is wonderful, a dry food that works well with salsa and with the rice.
On Wednesday the Bife amilanesa, deep-fried beef, makes a nice base for the larger meal which should include the Banana frita. Thursday’s specialties at the hot-plates includes Muqueca, a fish, tomato and green pepper stew that was superb.
Saturday, a day to look forward to (and I haven’t done this yet) brings Feijoada, the Brazillian National Dish. All Feijao dishes are based on beans, but Feijoada is specifically black beans with port and sausage. Usually cooked for 24 hours in a steam pit, (an option that doesn’t really exist in Pittsfield), this dish is always reserved for the Saturday night special or certain occasions when something high-end is called for. I will be trying it in Brazil in the near future, and then I’ll come back to this restaurant and give theirs a whirl.
There is music on the weekends and a crowd of young Brazillian men and women crowd the bar and stage areas. Some nights you may find a clown or other entertainment roving the room. The place is a laid-back, relaxed experience with unusual food items and a casual atmosphere. Is the food unique - it is. Is it authentic - not really, but it could get there if we keep trying to push them out of New England’s tastebud mindset and into the Amazon delta. What it is, however, is good food, slightly off the beaten track, and so very affordable.
Definitely worth a multiple try. You’re bound to find a day when the steam table is just to your liking.
Brazillian Restaurant and Pub is open seven days a week. Lunch hours Monday-Sunday are 11:00 to 3:00. Dinner hours Monday-Sunday are 5:00 to 10:00. No reservations are necessary. 413-236-9100.