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Author: Julie Fadda Powers
February, 2015 Issue

505 Mendocino Ave.
Santa Rosa
(707) 623-9382
Brazilian Steakhouse
Dinner nightly
$7-$12 (small plates); $40 (rodizio)
Full bar, nice wine list
Headed to Brasa? Show up hungry and enjoy a Brazilian, rodizio-style feast.
The front of the restaurant has a large, lively bar and an adjacent lounge area that has a fireplace to the side. There’s a second fireplace in the rear of the formal dining area, which is alongside the lounge. During warmer weather, you can enjoy the large outdoor patio.
Meantime, let’s talk about dining options. Chef Cristina Faga is originally from Brazil, and offers two different ways to enjoy the menu: a la carte; or rodizio, which is served family-style (everyone at the table must participate) and offers unlimited helpings of eight different meats, along with several side dishes. Faga told us 90 percent of Brazilian restaurants only serve rodizio-style, but she added small plates as an option to best serve the needs of Wine Country diners. Most dishes are entirely gluten-free. At Faga’s suggestion, we chose rodizio. She also told us she suggests people eat lightly and drink lots of water before visiting if they plan on doing rodizio-style dining.
We started with a traditional Brazilian cocktail called Caipirinha, which is cool and refreshing and reminded me of a margarita, but a bit sweeter since it’s made with Leblon Cachaca (sugarcane rum) and lime juice. We also decided to add an appetizer to the meal, and went for the spicy grilled prawns. There were six plump, fresh prawns served in a white wine and garlic reduction sauce that had a great kick (house made chili sauce being the key ingredient).
The meal comes with a choice of soup or salad as well as cheese bread, which is made with yucca and corn flour, then rolled into balls, fried and topped with oil. The result is dense and hearty. The mixed greens and hearts of palm salad had bite-sized chunks of mango and was lightly dressed. The soup was chicken and Charlotte potato, which had shredded chicken, chunks of potato and green onions in a thick chicken broth.
Our sides included crispy polenta, fried yucca and crispy plantain (served in thick strips that are crisp outside and soft inside); grilled pineapple; pan fried okra with cherry tomatoes and roasted garlic (earthy); shredded and marinated fresh collard greens (light); jasmine rice; black beans; and chimichurri sauce (a green sauce made with fresh herbs, oil and vinegar).
Next came the meats, brought to the table on large skewers and sliced right there, allowing a couple large bites for each person. First was the spiced pork sausage, an herbaceous linguica that was great with the chimichurri. The pork loin with parmesan cheese was super tender and had a crispy layer of cheese on it (it was definitely one of my favorite parts of the meal). The bacon-wrapped chicken breast had a lovely smoky flavor, while the top sirloin was cooked medium rare, peppered and had a nice layer of fat on the edge. The New York strip was cooked medium and had lots of natural juices. The garlic-marinated top sirloin and chicken breast (served separately) both had plenty of garlic, but not to the point of being overwhelming. Everything was served hot and tender, expertly cooked and presented. You can choose to try everything or skip items that don’t interest you (we enjoyed all of them, though!).
For dessert, we went for Brazilian coffee (rich, dark) and chocolate-dipped strawberries. There were four large berries that were dipped in creamy caramel, then had a lush, dark chocolate shell. They were sliced in half and added a sweet ending to the meal.






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