Hungry? You better be when you head to Rodizio Grill, one of Stamford’s latest openings, where in the style of Brazilian churrascarias, servers dressed as gauchos come to your table with skewers of juicy and tender rotisserie-grilled meats and a long knife for tableside carving. Your only job is to keep your personal tong in hand and serve yourself.
Seem intense? Well, it is … in a delicious way, since you can control how much feasting you indulge in with the flip of a red and green wooden cue. Green keeps the food coming; red stops service if you need a breather. I knew this place would be right for my friend and me, though one thing is for sure: No matter how many different cuts you want to taste, this is a meal you want to take your time savoring.
When we arrived we were greeted right away, and seated at a table with a prime view of the space. The mix of booths and banquettes lend Rodizio Grill a festive yet warm ambiance, and the crowds at the large bar opposite the dining room added to the day’s already upbeat mood.
We set out to enjoy the full experience, and quickly ordered cocktails: a caipirinha, a nicely balanced blend of sugar cane rum, sugar and lime, and a Paradise Iced Tea, an offshoot of a Long Island Iced Tea, but made with mango and passion fruit. Both went down very smoothly but the “tea” ingredients tended to separate (not a problem if you don’t mind constant stirring.) “I’ll have another,” we said, as we perused the prix-fixe menu options, which consist of the Full Rodizio—grilled meats, glazed pineapple, salad bar and appetizers—and the Unlimited Salad Bar, something anyone can delight in since the variety of hot and cold dishes offered can easily make for a grand meal.
We started with the light bites they bring to every table: banana frita, fried polenta and pao de queijo, Brazilian cheese bread. Without a doubt the banana frita was our favorite. These are sautéed, cinnamon-glazed and served on a light layer of
granulated sugar. It was like starting your meal with dessert. We also loved the fried polenta. Cut like oversized French fries and sprinkled with Parmesan cheese, the dish was a perfect salty companion to the sweet bananas. We could have skipped the cheese bread, though. While it was served warm and had a pleasant gooey inside, it lacked depth of flavor.
Our wooden cue remained red while we checked out the salad bar. Aside from typical greens and vegetables, it also included fifteen prepared fixins’. One of our favorite salads was the salada de morangos, a strawberry mix topped with toasted coconut in a tangy yet sweet raspberry vinaigrette that offered a light start to what we knew was coming. The Salada Rodizio, a signature dish with greens, mayonnaise, bacon and mozzarella, an interpretation of the traditional steakhouse iceberg salad, was also a winner.
While making my way around the salad bar, I noticed the hot dishes also offered. It was then that I knew we were embarking on a meal of epic proportions. But how could I pass these up? There was the couve, sautéed collard greens and bacon cooked with enough snap but still tender, and the traditional black bean stew (feijoada), perfectly smoky, complemented the creamy heaven that was pure de batata, whipped potatoes.
Hoping our metabolism could stand it, we also tried the pasta alfredo and legumes com Parmesao, a skewer of grilled zucchini, red peppers, onions and squash sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. The pasta seemed a bit like an afterthought, with no real distinction, but the skewered vegetables were nicely charred and the cheese gave them the right amount of saltiness.
With two dishes piled high with side options, we were back at our table and settled in for the long haul. The cue was flipped to green, and within moments, the first three-foot skewer was produced, holding maminha, seasoned tri-tip sirloin. During the meal we were also served picanha (top sirloin) and fraldinha (beef tender). We devoured these so-juicy-they-were-dripping cuts of beef—I could have easily made room for more—though it was difficult to distinguish the two sirloins. (A note about “doneness”: Let the server know ahead of time what your preference is. We both received rare pieces of maminha without asking, which we preferred, but tell your server at the beginning, to be obliged.)
One skewer soon blended into another, each a rich presentation of game, which included courses of “the other white meat,” a mild pork sausage, or linguiça, and marinated lombo, both prepared with a spot-on level of spice.
Of the poultry, we loved the juicy Sobre Coxa, a signature chicken that is marinated in Dos Equis Amber Lager. The peru com bacon, a lean turkey breast, was perfectly cooked with bacon wrapped around it, and anything wrapped in bacon is A-OK with me! If you are partial to trying new flavors, take a few bites of the coraçao, grilled chicken hearts with a twist of lime. These were new to me, and an unexpected surprise, with a flavor similar to pork sausage. The frango agri-doce, a sweet and sour chicken, was the only miss of these offerings. With its Asian flavorings, we couldn't figure out how it tied into the Brazilian theme.
Somewhere into our tenth or eleventh serving—we actually lost count—one of the servers humorously advised us to turn our cue back to red. (He must have noticed we were satiated.) But wait, what about a sweet ending to this mammoth meal? In that spirit, we were onto dessert, with the seriously delicious pudim de leite, caramel flan that had the right balance of creaminess and caramel and left us both smiling wide. We also inhaled the Brazilian cremes, traditional ice cream that can be combined with tropical flavors. We opted for strawberry—other options include coconut, mango, passion fruit, strawberry, banana, raspberry and guava. Despite our initial hesitation to forge into this sweet paradise, these desserts were so unbelievably tasty that we wiped both dishes clean.
Will we come back? Definitely, though I might cut back on how much I serve myself (except for dessert). After all, just because it happens to be an all-you-can-eat restaurant doesn’t mean you have to actually eat everything. Or at least that’s what I’m told. Just make it a special occasion and plan on a little over-indulgence. It’s well worth all those extra calories.
5 Broad Street
Mon.–Thu., 11 a.m.–10 p.m.
Fri.–Sat., 11 a.m.–11 p.m.
Sun., 11 a.m.–9:30 p.m.