Why aren't we eating more Brazilian food? Yes, of course steakhouses like Fogo de Chão are more popular than ever, along with the bevvy of Portuguese-influenced churrasco grills that pack you with slow-roasted meat. But rodizio is just one part of the cuisine in Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world. And once you delve into the menu at this new restaurant in Amityville, you'll be asking the same question.
Brazico, which opened in December, is a chicly designed fusion concept that melds Brazilian and Mexican cuisine. Owner Marcelle Torres hails from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; her husband, Mike Torres, is from Long Island and has always loved the heat and flavors of Mexican cuisine. Their tacos get people in the door, but the classic Brazilian dishes are what really stand out here, as Brazico prepares icons like pão de queijo cheese bread and coxinha chicken croquettes, importing the dough and other products from Brazil.
These dishes are usually the purview of small bakery storefronts or casual Brazilian delis like the new GV Brazil Restaurant in Valley Stream. But Brazico takes a slightly more elevated approach fit for a date night or fun evening with friends (but not the blowout of a rodizio grill). And the two did a fine job bringing a tropical vibe to the former pizzeria, lining dining nooks with colorful wallpaper and the bar area with mosaic tile.
Funky bossa nova tunes from João Gilberto and Quarteto do Rio provide a lively soundtrack for the bartender's cocktail shaker. Out of it comes a flurry of cachaça drinks ($14) made from distilled sugarcane juice, like the limey caipirinha and the coconutty batida de coco. The latter is Brazil's answer to the piña colada, mixed with both coconut cream and condensed milk. Even through the thick terra cotta clay cup, there's enough cachaça in here to really kick you.
Luckily, Brazico excels in bar snacks like the bolinhas de queijo ($10), which are, frankly, the best cheese balls you'll ever taste. Four fried spheres arrive on a wooden board lined with a banana leaf. They look like nothing — until you break into them and feel the breadcrumb crust give way to a molten mozzarella center that oozes from the soft, glutinous dough. The kitchen also prepares croquettes stuffed with salt cod, bolinhos de bacalhau, and Brazilian empanadas, pastéis.
Then, head straight to the entrees, which include Brazilian meats like picanha top sirloin and the famous Afro Brazilian fish soup moqueca with dende palm oil. Brazico prepares a mighty fine feijoada, the national dish of Brazil, a slow-cooked black bean stew studded with pork and sausage. It's a deep and hearty affair, but here served in a mini cast iron pot alongside a neat spread of white rice and toppings in little bowls.
Marcelle said to put some of the black beans over the rice, then sprinkle a pinch of farofa, a toasted cassava flour that looks like powdery pork rinds and tastes of nutty grains. In another bowl: ribbons of collard greens, only slightly cooked so that they remained snappy and bitter, were slicked in olive oil and garlic.
Together, it all made the perfect most satisfying dish, but it only got better with a drizzle of the bright red housemade hot sauce, which was about three times spicier than anything you'll taste at a restaurant. Ripe and fruity, yet pierced with the fire of the Brazilian malagueta peppers, the sauce was a sign that the kitchen respects Brazilian food, and wants us all to taste the real deal.
Brazico, 217 Broadway, Amityville, 631-464-4323, instagram.com/brazicoamityville. Open 3-10 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday, closed Monday.